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Your Career - Is there an Excuse for Excuses?

‘Are you willing, or would you take a lower salaried job if you could still survive, and it would guarantee to open up doors to bigger opportunities in 2 years’?

By Matt Ward

I recently posted the above question here on Linkedin and received some great feedback, which together with private messages and emails received, enabled me to gather interesting results as detailed below;

Based on 83 given answers (from all industries but mainly football coaches/staff)

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this question here. It’s all about what the person is willing to do or sacrifice, able to do or 100% needing to do, to get to where they want to be. How a person perceives their circumstance, will also reflect in their willingness to be flexible and I say perceive, as this is the only thing separating one person from another who are in almost the same (or actually identical) situation. It’s their own perception of how restricted they are, due to their own personal circumstances.

We must also remember that there are those who are contempt with their current situation, or those with greater dependence on them, in one way or another, e.g. disabled or sick family etc e 

Having said this, it should now become clearer at who this article is aimed at. It’s not been published for those who are happy in their current position, contempt with their progression or someone who accepts they can’t make a change because too much depends on them… it’s for those that feel they are stuck in rewind or pause, want to progress and develop their career, complain that they aren’t getting any breaks or luck, or they have no idea how to push their career to the next level.

Some barriers from those who gave feedback were fair, reasonable and indeed realistic.

“how do you tell your family, hey, sorry, no family holiday for 2-3 maybe more years cos I want to follow a dream that "maybe could" open some doors. Or, sorry you can't have this or that or the latest gadget or trainers or latest trendy whatever because I'm chasing my dream. So when you have certain commitments, and a family that is used to a certain lifestyle, and I'm not talking about a lavish one, just a certain standard, and they have to lower that standard for you, it comes across a bit selfish, and there's no guarantee that it will get better after 2 years”.

“Not just the pay drop but family time like many have said. I've got the added difficulty that my son has special needs. Also, both being teachers, we have plenty of time off together and now it is expected that we spend it together”.

“..why would I drop my salary when I’ve already worked so hard to get where I am. Also, I know what I’m worth and I know what I deserve”.

“I would have in the past, but I have a young family now so it would be very difficult to do”.

Everything was just a lot simpler when young, free and single…. It’s true

But it can’t just end there. How is anyone meant to reach for the stars and take what they deserve when faced with such a range of barriers?

Much of it is down to sacrifice and as some may see it, out right selfishness. As one of the above answers quite rightly stated, how can we take away from our families all because we are trying to put our own careers first? Why should our family or ourselves suffer, just for something which may not even happen? How can we survive on minimum money when we already have two kids, two cars, a house with bills and an annual golf membership to pay?

 I personally understand all of this. I feel it fully and I get it (as I went through the same, mentioned in my book ‘Zero to Pro in 4 Years’. But for me, here’s what it really comes down to and there isn’t much argument about it…


In a competitive industry such as football coaching and management, if you are focused on reaching as high and as far as you can in your career, there’s no way you can do it without being ready to sacrifice.

Some may disagree with me here but I’m talking from experience and very bluntly, if you are not willing to do whatever it takes, someone else will be and they will take what you believe should be yours, whilst crapping on you from above and whilst looking down smiling.

If you are not willing to go the extra mile, someone else will run past you. If you are not willing to give before taking, someone else will be receiving the fortunes from all the giving you did NOT do. If you are not willing to plan out your goals and strategize how to reach them, someone else has already executed theirs and are now taking action towards their next fully professional contract.

 I’m not meaning to sound like a dick; I’m just saying how it is. This is the harsh reality of the industry and after all said and done, we all have two choices; we do it or we don’t.

 Let’s now take a thought for the person who has had to leave their family behind, or sell a car, downgrade their house, cancel their golf membership or struggle for a couple of years just to get ahead.

These may be called selfish by some, but when it counts, these same selfish slugs are the ones who are feeling the most pain and mostly, they are doing it for their families, themselves or their legacy.

Would you be willing to work away from your family, if it meant securing your families future?
Would you be willing to downsize your single lifestyle if it meant in the future, you would slingshot yourself into a higher place?
Would you be willing to do some extra volunteering work if it meant opening the door to better opportunities in the future?

Here is some feedback from some people who said ‘yes’;

“I have done that in the past Matt.... worked well for me” ex-Head Coach of Sheffield Wednesday F.C

“Just about to take on an additional voluntary role, that will limit the hours I can be earning from my paid positions. It’s about the bigger picture, the end game , and the experiences I can pick up along the way”. - Essex F.A Coach Mentor

“Yes, having recently done this in my full-time job I now have bigger and better opportunities. I also love where I currently work, spend more time with my family”.  - Swansea City Development Coach

“I started as a volunteer and dedicated many a night and every weekend to different clubs”. - - Director of Football at Turks & Caicos F.A

“Doing it now” - Head Coach of a Top Tier club in Asia

Looking through some answers by those who are currently in such a role (a lower paid role) or have been in the past, one common thing the majority held, was that their experience in doing this led to a better opportunity at some point in time.

It’s also becoming more and more common for football coaches and staff to ‘put themselves out’, enabling them to create a better CV, personal network and increase experience and learning.


What about the house and Bills! I hear you say….

Look, I don’t have all of the answers in relation to your amount of spending, but one thing is concrete…. If you have a house and a family and have to pay bills, you are not the first person to be in such a position, and won't be the last.

Many others have slogged their way through these barriers and have come out the other side to tell the tale, and perhaps, looking down and smiling while they crap on everyone else’s head.

If you want to reach your full potential, then do what you need to do. Do whatever it takes.

If you are not willing to do whatever it takes, then be contempt with what you achieve and remember you had/have a choice.

If you want to reach your full potential and open doors to new opportunities but not sure where to start…..

You need to follow this link and click here (Of course I needed to do a little bit of direct selling somewhere in here ;-)

I genuinely wish you all the best in your futures, regardless of what your opinion and stand is on the subject. 

Matt Ward is the author of the book 'Zero to Pro in 4 Years', and also the owner of Matt Ward Consulting and the British Football Coaches Network. He has coached at Senior levels in two top tiers in Asia, Ghana Division 1 & China League One.

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