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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Charter

Balancing Work, Life and Elite Sport

By far the most common question I am asked to this day is, “How are you able to balance elite sport, professional full time work a relationship and still find time for yourself?” and it’s one I often struggle to answer and not for its complexity but for me it doesn’t require conscious thought but here are my musings.

My sporting story was far from normal, from a young age I had suffered from motor development issues. This put me behind others my age in terms of coordination and left me subject to bullying until I found my place in the sport of hockey. Eventually finding my feed and catching my peers and ultimately overtaking them.

At this point I found myself striving to reach the pinnacle of athletic performance but at the same time knowing that this would not provide for me financially for the long-term. This realisation ensured that I aimed to be a top performer in my study and my career in the workplace. That said balancing the demands of work, life and elite sport has been challenging but overtime you learn that transparency and finding fulfillment in other aspects of life are the keys to maintaining a healthy equilibrium. The moment you let yourself be defined by a single part of your being is the moment you fall from happiness.

The Synergy of Work and Sport

For me, work and sport provide an ideal balance. When I face challenges at work, I can find solace in my sport, using the physical exertion to clear my mind and let go of any negative emotions. Similarly, a tough day in training or a disappointing competition can be offset by achievements and accomplishments at work. In this way, they act as mutually beneficial outlets, helping me maintain a healthy and balanced life.

Finding Fulfillment Beyond Work and Sport

While work and sport play significant roles in my life, I've come to realize that having another source of fulfillment is essential for overall happiness and well-being. This additional source of fulfillment is not necessarily family or a significant other, although they can certainly contribute to one's happiness. It could be a hobby, a passion project, or a social cause that brings a sense of purpose and satisfaction. For me personally it changes, sometimes it will be dancing Forro with my wife seeing the smile that brings her, other times it will be playing board games with friends or cycling on the weekends.

Transparency: The Key to Successful Negotiation

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my journey is the importance of transparency. Open communication with coaches, employers, and significant others has been crucial in helping me manage my commitments and maintain harmony in my personal and professional relationships.

By being transparent about my goals and the time I need to devote to my sport, I have been able to work with my employer to create a flexible schedule that accommodates my training and competition needs. Similarly, keeping an open dialogue with my coaches has helped me manage expectations and ensure that I am not overextending myself in either domain. That said it is not without complexity, there are times where shifting priority and importance will be required to ensure that you can manage everything proactively.

Maintaining open communication with significant others has been vital in helping them understand the demands of my sporting pursuits and the sacrifices that come with it. This understanding has led to a more supportive and nurturing environment, which in turn has contributed to my overall happiness and success.

The ability to balance work, life and elite sport can be challenging but it’s a trained skill that you learn, and it ultimately becomes like any other action you perform. For me personally its foundation lay in transparency, a third place for fulfillment and the complementary nature of sport and my professional career to act as outlets for each other. By incorporating this in my life I have been able to enjoy a fulfilling and successful career while also continuing my sporting ambitions.

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