While it may often be presented otherwise, footballers do not exist in a vacuum, exclusively moving from training to matchday with nothing in-between.
Every player is an individual with their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings influencing them each time they step out onto the field.
Similarly, most players will have a network of friends and family behind them, supporting them every step of the way as they look to succeed in football as far as possible.
However, when you’re working at your career, it can be easy to neglect these important relationships. The various pressures and time constraints that come with your busy schedule can make it difficult to properly maintain your relationships, and these can quickly fall away as a priority if you fail to do this adequately.
But actually, keeping those relationships in fine fettle is important for your personal sense of wellbeing – indeed, thanks to many landmark studies and surveys, we now know the immense power of positive social relationships on our lives.
As a result, it’s vital for you to put the right amount of care and attention into those relationships, no matter what’s happening on the pitch.
So, find out how to make sure that you properly maintain and work on your important relationships while you’re building your football career.
Knowing the value of your relationships can help to keep them as a priority
As a starting point, it can be useful to know just how valuable positive social relationships are proven to be in contributing towards our health and happiness.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development presents interesting evidence of how this is the case. Starting in 1938, the study followed 268 Harvard students in their sophomore year and, over the course of the next eight decades, showed the immense value of relationships in their lives.
Indeed, relationships kept people happier and helped to delay mental and physical decline more than factors such as money or fame.
“Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” explains psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of the study. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too.”
Knowing that having strong relationships has been proven to be the most important thing in living longer and being happier might help you to keep them front and centre, no matter what’s happening in your career.
Remember to provide support to those around you
Of course, being aware of how important relationships are is only part of the battle – the real key is in looking after these over time.
One of the most important aspects of maintaining your relationships is in ensuring that they remain two-way streets, where you’re also providing support to those around you.
As Waldinger and fellow psychiatrist Marc Schulz explain on TED, “ask yourself: do you provide others the types of support you most want to receive? If so, to whom?”
A good way to do this is to think of the times you’ve needed support from your network. Perhaps you were going through a difficult patch in your career, or you’d been through an emotional upheaval in your personal life, such as a relationship breaking up.
Now think about who you turned to in these moments, and the type of advice they provided.
Doing this provides two benefits. Firstly, it shows you the individuals who are important to you. It’s vital to have people you can turn to in these difficult times, so being there to support them too is fundamental to maintaining that relationship.
Additionally, it also helps you to consider what kind of advice you find most useful. In turn, you can use this experience to inform the advice you give out, making you a better support for your friends and family, too.
Relationships are inherently a give and take, and it’s important to hold up your end of the bargain.
Take inspiration from how you build relationships with your teammates
One place you can take inspiration from for how to maintain your relationships is looking at the way you would do this in the dressing room. After all, if you don’t have strong relationships with your team, it can be far harder to succeed on the field.
Adidas’s work-life website Gameplan A gives a few examples of the ways you might go about this as a footballer, including:
- Mutual respect between you and your teammates or coaches
- Healthy communication, both on and off the field
- Feedback, both positive and negative, to help you all know where you can improve.
These ideas can all be applied to your personal relationships. For example, your relationship with your spouse or partner needs to include mutual respect for one another to succeed.
Similarly, communicating with your friends and family is always important, even during those periods when you’re very busy with work.
And when it comes to feedback, it’s often worth being willing to listen to your loved ones if they tell you they need a bit more from you. As with football, it’s easy to make mistakes in your relationships, and things may not always go to plan. The key is to listen to those around you and show them that you’ve taken what they’ve said on board.
You’ll have passively learned many important lessons about relationships from what you do for a living, so using this experience to improve your personal life could be well worth doing.
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This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.