I was fortunate enough to be included in the PhD study of a colleague looking at the importance of reflecting and one of the first projects was to write a letter to my younger self. Much inspiration for this letter came from one which Pete Sampras wrote to his 16-year old self that can be found HERE.
This assignment was a very interesting experience. Self-reflection can be a difficult process and is one that I occasionally will purposefully avoid – despite understanding its importance. It can be much easier to hide behind the ever-increasing amount of external stimuli we have access to rather than spend time internally with our own thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
A model of reflection was developed by Gibbs (1988) to act as a guide through the reflective process and can be visualized below.
It was easier for me to navigate my reflection through a professional lens – naturally, I took the easy way out. At the conclusion of writing my letter I was pleased to come across a heightened level of gratitude for my journey and the people in my life
Without wasting any more of your time…
Dear 18-year-old Jason,
You are about to enter University with much uncertainty on your future career path. Standardized exams have informed you that you are “well-suited” for a career in finance/accounting and the idea of a healthy salary is quite intriguing.
You’ll pursue this path for a couple of years before realizing that it’s not about the money – the cubicle life isn’t where you belong. You’ll weigh your options longer than necessary before making the switch to a degree in Exercise Science as a means to stay involved in sport. Listen to your instinct and embrace the decision with no hesitation.
You’ll find the University workload to be less after making the switch. Don’t relax – stay focused. You’ll question the relevance of your subject matter. It’s relevant. Aim to retain rather than memorize.
As you enter the world of Internships…
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. A job offer IS in the realm of possibility at the conclusion of your internship at World Athletics Center – stay open-minded, hard-working, and relatable and great things will come!
As you begin to coach…
Again, be comfortable being uncomfortable. There will be many challenges, particularly the first year or two. You will struggle financially. You will question your abilities. You will wonder if you belong in elite sport.
Likewise, there will be many defining moments the first year or two. Don’t get too comfortable. Identify gaps you can fill within the organization as well as your own development.
Don’t be complacent – continue to study and gain experience. Always strive for improvement and have confidence that you can be a successful coach within a high-performance environment.
Relax a little bit.
Try to be less anxious – less high-strung.
Continue to enjoy life.
Be comfortable being you.