Bob Dylan warbled about how the times they are a changin’. That song could be a metaphor for what I believe about my life right now. In my last few blogs I’ve written about how my life is so very different now to what it was fifteen, ten, even one year ago.
As many of you will know, I’ve spent the last few weeks getting rid of all of the football shirts I collected throughout my career in the game. The sheer number of shirts involved surprised quite a few people on social media but, believe me, no-one was more surprised at just how many shirts I’d amassed than me.
It showed, very clearly, just how immersed into professional football I was during my time in the game. I didn’t just wear the shirt, I collected those that my friends and colleagues in football had been wearing as well.
Football was my life and my life revolved around football. There would have been a time when I couldn’t even have begun to perceive doing anything else. And as for earning the sort of money I was fortunate enough to be paid during my career, not least during one season as a Premier League player with Norwich City in 2004/05, I thought that whatever else I did in my life, I’d come nowhere near to having that sort of income again.
Which, looking back is a little sad because, when I came onto the pitch as a replacement for Mattias Jonson during the Canaries opening Premier League game of that campaign, I was still only 26 years old. I don’t think I was quite writing myself off at that stage. But I do think I entered that stage of my life and that season thinking this was as good as it was ever going to get as far as my life was concerned, both professionally and financially.
The ‘happiest days of your life’ are said to be those that you spend at school. Not many people believe that now of course and they certainly wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told them that at the time. But I think that, just for a while, I thought the Summer of 2004 saw me living the best days of my life. Yet that didn’t turn out to be the case.
I’m enjoying my life at the moment and I truly believe that my best days are yet to come. From a career point of view, that is certainly what I am working towards now. I’m no longer a professional footballer. Everyone knows that. My great shirt ‘cull’ has emphasised just how that part of my life now is in the past. Great memories and good friends, yes, absolutely but it’s no longer my life.
Remember that one of those reasons I thought life couldn’t have gotten any better for me, than what it was back in August 2004, was the income that came with playing football at that level. We couldn’t ever expect to earn what even the squad players at clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea were being paid but we were still on very good wages indeed. I’d look at my payslip at the end of the month and, I’ll be honest with you, I’d just think “Wow” because it was the most money I had ever earned in my life.
Yet incredibly, the hugely enjoyable Keynote speaking that I deliver these can equal the money that I was earning back when I was playing in the Premier League.
The last thing I’m trying to do is impress anyone but, more importantly, I am challenging my limiting belief that I have picked up along the way and accepted as a reality for my life. The message I am aiming to put across is that if we spend a part of our lives believing that things will never get any better or that we’ve reached our professional peak, then, no matter what we are doing or how old we are, then that’s almost certainly going to be how things will turn out.
It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, we have a high likelihood to become what we believe about ourselves.
Through the work that I do now, I began to learn that most of us have a self-image that limits our potential and does not allow us to achieve what, possibly, we are able to achieve because it’s a ‘reality’ that we have created for ourselves. Ironically, it is one that only exists in our heads.
Just like the image I’d created in my head all those years ago about how my life was never going to get any better than this.
I have a different limiting belief these days. Except now, I’m working on creating a belief that can allow me to earn more money than I ever did in the Premier League. I’m not there yet but at least I’m further ahead than I was last year, last week or even yesterday….