There are a lot of athletes out there who don’t think about life after sport.
When you stop playing, it can leave a massive void. Look at the number of footballers who have lost their money gambling or cricketers who have struggled with depression in the last decade or so. You end up missing the buzz and competition. It is a big issue in sport.
Money doesn’t buy you everything. It doesn’t buy you happiness.
There’s a fine line between focusing on the present and planning for the future. You want to enjoy playing while it lasts so naturally you don’t plan ahead.
But over the last three years, I have started to think about what is next after squash. The first phase was when I started writing a book at 32 and set up my academy. I also happened to get married and move house that year too!
I don’t regret taking so much on at the time as the book was really successful. It was great doing a few different projects but if you’re not careful you can end up taking your eye off the ball.
However, after knee surgery last summer, it made me realise that I have to set things up a little bit better for when I do retire. When you are fit, you think you are going to play forever. When you get an injury, it makes you realise that sport is volatile.
The second knee op made me re-evaluate everything. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to come back so I needed to give myself clarity as things were threatening to get out of hand.
I have let other people take over some of the academy work and I feel that has eased some of the workload on me and opened my mind up again to squash.
I can feel the difference sorting one or two things out for the future has had on my personality. I am bubbly again and haven’t got anything on my mind so I can concentrate a little bit more on my squash and spending time with my family.
I certainly think it was necessary and hopefully it will give me peace of mind to make the most out of the last phase of my career whether that is one, two, three or four years. Now I feel in a good position to focus 100 per cent on my squash and don’t have to worry about what I will do if I get another injury.