Careers for Athletes with Taj Dashaun, Episode #70

Today’s guest is Taj Dashaun, Athlete Career Transition Coach and host of the podcast Thrive After Sports. When Taj first stepped away from the game he loved he struggled heavily with depression. He had never fully developed a clear vision of his life after football. Taj knew he wanted to get a good job, make money, and be successful, but felt lost and overwhelmed having no idea how he would do that and what to do with his life.

After several years of stumbling around in the emotional darkness of uncertainty, Taj decided to move the focus away from himself and look to serving others. Once Taj found his focus he created an intensive program for retired athletes who are struggling to adapt to life after sports. It has become his mission and passion to reach out and help others overcome the fear, frustration, and uncertainty associated with life post athletics. Listen in and hear how Taj has helped athletes approach, navigate, and successfully move into the next phase of their lives.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Taj’s path to becoming an athlete career transition coach [2:59]
  • When should athletes seek coaching from Taj? [6:55]
  • Why is it so hard for athletes to transition out of their sports careers? [10:19]
  • Getting your mind prepared for the day you’re no longer playing sports [12:02]
  • Assistance from the university for players after they are done with the game [14:33]
  • Lack of emphasis on athletes’ mental wellbeing [19:28]
  • Simple things athletes can do to help be more successful through the transition [23:50]
  • Challenges of leaving sports [28:21]
  • What Taj did today that put him in the right mindset for success? [32:28]

Taj’s path to becoming an Athlete Career Transition Coach

Taj played football at Stony Brook and when he graduated, just like many other athletes, he was lost. He had been playing football since he was 10 years old, and all of a sudden life no longer revolved around the sport. There weren’t a lot of resources for transitioning athletes in 2013 and so Taj went back to Southern California, back home to his childhood bedroom, with no job prospects and no clue what he wanted to do. He started out in sales and was making great money but Taj quickly reached this point where he was unhappy with day-to-day life. He knew he had to find something that was more true to who he was and who he wanted to be. As he was trying to figure it out he made a pivot from sales to recruiting where he was also helping people. Helping people became the theme leading up to everything Taj does now.

At what point does a transitioning athlete need someone like Taj?

You’re a collegiate athlete. Your tenure’s coming to an end. When should I contact Taj and what’s the process?

Taj says the timing is tricky because when you’re fully immersed in a sport, that’s all you’re thinking about. Taj is not the guy who comes in senior year and says “Hey, I know you have this championship game coming up, but have you thought about what you’re gonna do afterward?” That’s not his role. His role begins after you’ve played your last game and you’re either still on campus and you have all this free time or you’ve graduated and you’re out in the real world.

Taj’s goal is to help his clients find clarity. Before he even gets into what you want to do with the rest of your life there’s a period of healing that needs to take place because there’s this loss of identity, like mourning a death of a former self. Once a client can move past that, then Taj can help them start to develop what they want to do. How are you going to do it? Who do you need to be connecting with? And of course doing it for all the right reasons, not just a paycheck, because the money comes as a byproduct of working on something that is meaningful to you.

Why isn’t mental wellness a bigger priority for the total wellness of athletes?

Athletes spend so much time honing their craft, whatever the sport is. On top of that, they make sure that they eat right and that they’re physically fit. Yet there is little emphasis on mental wellness. It’s starting to be talked about, but you still don’t see that focus on the mental wellbeing side of things, which I think is crucial to any athlete at any level.

I asked Taj why he thinks this is the case he says “for so long—and not only athletes—but just people in general, the topic of mental health just hasn’t been in the forefront of the conversation. Especially in certain communities. It’s not just about minorities. It’s also about athletes. It’s also about men. How many men have opened up about their mental health over the years? I think men are committing suicide at an alarming rate in the US.”

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Taj Dashaun


Taj Dashaun is a former Division-1 college football player for Stony Brook University. When his football career ended, Taj struggled heavily with depression. Because he was so focused on the game, he never fully developed a clear vision for his life.

After several years of stumbling around in the emotional darkness of uncertainty, Taj began to take his eyes off of himself and focus on serving others. He now runs an intensive program for retired athletes who, like he once was, are struggling to adapt to life after sports. Not only does Taj help former players land jobs and start businesses, he helps them find fulfillment in every area of their lives.

It’s become his personal mission and passion to reach out and help others overcome the fear, frustration and uncertainty associated with life post-athletics. Taj is also the author of “Thrive After Sports”, and the host of the Thrive After Sports podcast.

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

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