Hanging Up The Cleats (When Is It Time To Let Go?)

I’ve played soccer for almost as long as I can remember. It’s been the most consistent thing in my life over the past decade. Aside from video games (which I used merely as an escape from reality), soccer was my first love.

Over the last year or so, however, my love for soccer has slowly faded. Soccer started to become a chore. It became something I had to do rather than wanted to do. I found myself going through the motions, and feeling indifferent to my future in the game and whether my team won or lost.

I made a promise to myself long ago that I’d quit playing soccer the day I stopped loving it. Well, that day is long overdue.

Initially I thought I was just suffering burnout from the sport, but these feelings have persisted for well over a year now. I’m confident in my decision and I’d like to announce my retirement. I’m hanging up the cleats.

At this point there’s several reasons I’m calling it a career. I’ll list my specific reasons for quitting the sport below, but I’ll also offer some advice to help you determine when it may be time to let something go from your own life. (Feel free to read only the bold if in a hurry.)

Enjoyment

One of the main reasons I’m hanging up my cleats is I just don’t enjoy soccer anymore. Whether it’s because I found more enjoyable hobbies, or can’t have fun playing it because I see it as pointless is irrelevant. The important thing is it’s just not fun anymore.

Although I understand not everything in the world is fun, if something’s not contributing to my personal development or the improvement of society it better be REALLY enjoyable. If not, I’m going to drop it from my life without a second thought.

Too many people do things simply because they’ve always done them. If one of your hobbies is no longer fulfilling for you there’s nothing wrong with replacing it. There’s no point in trying to live someone else’s dream, because even if you succeed you’ll still be unhappy with yourself. Why? Because you’ll know you could’ve done better.

Time

One of the biggest reasons I can no longer afford to play soccer is time. This school year I expect to have literally zero free time. Between juggling and writing I already have 3-4 hours reserved for hobbies per day.

Also taking into consideration the fact that I spend a fair amount of time promoting my blog, as well as my juggling, and it’s not hard to see that I simply can’t afford to spend significantly more time on other hobbies.

Even showing up and doing just the bare minimum for soccer eats about 10 hours a week. I don’t care to be the mediocre player that everyone takes for granted, however. If I was to continue playing I would need to dedicate at least 15-20 hours per week to the sport and it’s simply not a good payoff at this point in my life.

If you can’t be the best at something, AND you’re not doing it for either enjoyment (or personal growth), it’s probably not a good investment of your time.

When one door closes another one opens. However, if you’re not willing to close the first door you’ll never see the second one open. If you’re not satisfied with what you’ve got now, but you’re not willing to let go, you’ll never be able to get anything better.

Energy

From a physical perspective soccer is an extremely demanding activity. When you start to reach high school, and other higher levels of the sport it’s not uncommon to get burnt out and overtrain from soccer alone.

Now consider the fact that I lift weights three times per week and juggle for two hours a day (which at high levels is strenuous cardio). Looking back it’s no wonder I never felt like doing anything during soccer season. I was averaging nearly four hours of exercise per day!

Of course, while my extreme example above may not be applicable to most people here’s something to think about. Every single thing you do has an energy cost and once you use your daily allowance you’re essentially done for the day.

You only have so much energy to exercise each day. You only have so much energy to write or make videos each day. You only have so much energy to listen to depressed people vent each day.

If you want to create the best life possible for yourself it’s absolutely crucial you relentlessly remove unfulfilling activities from your life. Happiness and fulfillment are derived from living in accordance with your values which are essentially the things you channel your limited energy into. If you’re not channeling your energy effectively into pursuits you deem to be worthwhile you’ll be neither happy nor fulfilled.

Purpose

If you want to be successful at anything you need a why. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending how you look at it) I just don’t care about soccer anymore. I see nothing wrong with playing it for fun, but if I’m unable to enjoy myself while playing I see no reason to do so.

I certainly don’t see any other big purpose for playing soccer. I’m not passionate enough (about soccer) to ever play at the professional level where I could leverage my skills to motivate others like Messi, Ronaldo, and countless others do.

My team may lose a a couple extra games this year without me, but although I love my teammates (and coaches) that just doesn’t mean much to me anymore. I’m a competitive person, but pouring my heart into something that benefits me (or others) in no way whatsoever for the sole purpose of winning at someone else’s expense seems rather pointless to me.

But alas, I fear I’m getting too much into the nitty gritty at this point. I think the main thing is that at this point in my life I’d much rather spend my time and energy investing in myself as well as doing things that’ll help others improve their lives.

Opinions differ, but I consider this the most noble pursuit of all and am able to draw constant motivation from it.

Each time I write a post on my blog it’s essentially a snapshot of who I was and what I thought about a particular topic at that point in time. Formulating my thoughts, articulating them, and then receiving feedback from others and looking back at them in the future has been an amazing activity that’s factored heavily into my personal growth this year. An activity I’d expect to continue having a heavy influence on me for years to come.

Of course, my writing is also useful to others. Through this blog I’m helping several hundred people improve their lives in some way each month and that number is only continuing to grow. I’ve only been at this for six months, but I’ve never done anything nearly as fulfilling, and I think that’s key.

Once you find things that are truly important to you whether they’re hobbies, relationships, etc., it’s only natural to want to introduce more of them into you’re life. When you find something you really love and realize just how much fulfillment is possible it’s amazing.

Once you have this experience you’ll want to introduce more similarly fulfilling things into your life, but until you let go of the partial matches you’ll never be able to.

If you have a girlfriend that you like, but aren’t in love with break up. If you continue to stay in the relationship other girls who are potentially better matches for you won’t even give you a second look. It’s the same with everything else in life as well.

As long as you hold on to things or relationships you just kind of like you resist the manifestation of things (and relationships) you’ll love and find truly fulfilling. I think in one sentence that perfectly explains how I feel right now.

Instead of forcing myself to continue reading a book I have no interest in I’d rather pick up a new one. Reading two books at a time isn’t possible so I’ve made the decision to return the first in exchange for another book I’m finding much more enjoyable and fulfilling than the first.

I pray that if you find yourself in a similar situation you have the courage to do the same.

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Huge shout out to Gary Mandli, Sean Jung, and Mike Jaworski. You all mean the world to me and I hope my retirement from the game hasn’t burned any bridges between us. You guys have been father figures to me and have helped mold me into the mature young man I am today.

I can’t express my limitless gratitude for all you’ve done. The endless hours you have invested in me mean the world to me. I wish only the best for all of you. You all have touched my soul, and I hope I was able to do the same for you. God bless.

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