I think many in the performance profession love their jobs… or used to. Some that loved it, now see it as a burden or are too burnt out to keep going. The gripes of many individuals in the profession are performance / S&C roles are low paying, there is a lack of job security at many levels, and the hours and travel schedules are long and unconventional at best.
While these are major points of contention for the profession, the reality is that every job has many of these same issues.
“There’s no job security.”
First off, if you don’t perform at a certain standard, your job will always be in jeopardy. An accountant that messes up tax returns or screws up the books won’t be an accountant for long. An electrician that makes a mistake that leads to a house fire will undoubtedly lose their job. Not being able to coach athletes to achieve higher performance outcomes for an extended period of time is the same as a bad accountant screwing up taxes. To be fair this is not always the case as there are great coaching casualties that happen simply from a head coaching change or organizational shift. This is something we all know is a possibility when we sign up.
“The pay isn’t good enough.”
Then wait for a role that you think is fair paying. Show your value to prospective employers through writing, speaking, and documenting results achieved. Yes, the salaries at many levels can be better, of course, but when you present yourself as a professional, your likelihood to be paid as a professional should increase.
In the mean time, find ways to diversify income streams. Some websites like Simplifaster and Catalyst Athletics will pay you to write a high quality piece. Offer a service related to the profession or start a completely unrelated side gig that you can do on off-hours. It’s never been easier to start something from scratch with minimal cash invested. Learn about stock market investing or real estate.
If you’re not happy with the income build something on your own that you have full control of.
“But, the hours are long.”
At the end of the day you’ve accepted a role where you most likely knew the schedule and travel demands in advance. Secondly, you dictate your efficiency in any role you take. Figure out how to perform your role more efficiently and save time for the other things in life you care about. For the young coaches, you will soon realize your life does not revolve around the gym. Tools and tech should make your life easier, not add hours administrative duties and paper work. Every job has some long and unconventional hours at times… unless you work a part-time job.
A couple things I try to keep in mind that help prepare for any professional situation:
Plan as if you will lose your job at the end of the year even if you know you won’t. Don’t actually be scared to lose job as this might affect performance, but be scared financially. What I mean by that is save as if you were to not have an income at the end of the year. Saving 3-6 months of your average monthly bills is a good start… and take into account everything that is necessary (rent, car, car insurance, health insurance, grocery, gas, electric, etc.).
It might take you a year or two (…or three) to get there depending on current income, but this also gives you more power and peace of mind down the road. This will help set you up when you actually do fall on hard times. The scenario of “lose your job then take the first one that comes along up because it’s an income” happens all too often. Having a financial cushion allows you to be patient and wait for the right role and when you find it to not be nervous to ask for more money in negotiations. If you have no cushion, chances are you’ll jump at the first number that is offered.
Rethink what you’re actually spending money on and if it’s truly important to your existence. You don’t need 6 streaming services or cable for that matter. You don’t need a car payment that is 20% of your monthly income. You don’t need a house or apartment that is 50% or more of your monthly income. Stop going out to eat and stop getting UberEats and DoorDash and limit takeout to once per week.
Lastly, write and speak in any way possible. This may not improve your value acutely, but over the long term you can present yourself as an authority which can enhance your network as well as paid opportunities down the road. A future employer may stumble upon your work and like what they see.