Ex-NFL Star Illustrates The Importance of Purposeful Careers

Eddie George is about to embark on a second career.  Football fans likely recognize the name. He won the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the college football player of the year, while he was at Ohio State, was a 4 time Pro Bowl running back in the NFL.  He’s been famous since his early college days and he’s earned enough money to never work again. His new career: acting.
That may seem typical as athletes often seeking applause head towards Hollywood. But that’s not what George did.  He took two years of serious acting classes in order to act in theatre.  He was told that if he wanted fame he should head to Hollywood but if he wanted to act, he should get on stage.  George decided he wanted purpose, as he already had enough fame and money. Unlike many former NFL players who suffer depression, get divorced, and indulge in other vices when they leave the NFL, George is thriving because he is purposeful.
I relayed this story to Mac, an early fifty something, who came to me for career counseling after he realized his time in therapy was useless. While Mac is not famous like George, he likely is richer. He left a Fairfield County hedge fund in 2012.  He had enough money to never work again several times over. At first, he did what guys like that do: he bought a bigger boat, a flashier car, another vacation home, and a few other toys.  But he noted that he already had big “time stuff”.  He had been wealthy since his late 30s.  Trading in his Porsche for a Bentley did little to improve his mood.  His roomier boat reminded him that he no one to spend time with since his friends and wife still worked and his kids were out of the house.  As for his new home in Nantucket, spending time there merely reminded him that he preferred his Darien home or his other vacation house in the Florida Keys.
Mac’s time in therapy did little for him. He realized he could benefit from spending more time developing his psychological and spiritual self but it wasn’t the “big thing.”  Mac contacted me because he realized the “big thing” was that he had no purpose and that work had always been his dominant purpose. 
After our first meeting, we identified several new career possibilities.  While he wasn’t sure what direction he would take, he said he felt alive for the first time in months.