I have always loved sports. All sports; Australian football, cricket, tennis, golf, sprinting, wrestling, basketball, down-ball, up-ball and any other type of ball I could find. If I couldn’t find someone to play with, I’d play on my own.
At the age of 11, I realised that my true passion lay with Australian Rules football, so it took up most of my thoughts and spare time. I dreamed of playing at the highest level. I could see myself running onto the field in front of thousands of adoring fans and kicking the winning goal. The power of visualization combined with hard work saw me fulfill my dream and play professional football from the age of 17 - 24 years old.
For those 7 years I followed my dream and passion with a one-eyed obsession. Unfortunately, I really wasn’t the professional footballing type! I was – well, I still am actually - a bit of a sook. I was really skinny, which could be a barrier to professional football. By far my most challenging limitation was that I just wasn’t all that skillful. So, the question must be asked - what drew to me that sport? I can say with great conviction that I have no idea.
But I worked hard, trained hard and spent most of those years in pain. When I finally ran out onto the ground in my very first senior level game, the crowd screamed, and I knew it was all worth it. I didn’t see much of the football that day, but it didn’t matter … I’d made it!
This pre-occupation with football - a better word might be ‘obsession’ – meant that other things were forced down my list of priorities. Little insignificant things like school, study, reading and education were no longer given much thought because I was going to be a famous & rich professional footballer.
I scraped through school with the bare minimum effort, with English being my worst subject by far because I didn’t like to read, I didn’t like to write and I couldn’t spell. I was footballer, no need for that stuff! I was 17 years old and didn’t really care, as long as it had something to do with sport. I finally decided on a Physical Education degree. It wasn’t football, but it still sounded like sport to me.
I did a little bit of study in and around my football career, but to be honest, I was doing it more for my parents than for myself. I was in the process of becoming a football star! I just fumbled through my course without any idea of where it was leading me.
After professional football, I taught for a short time and then moved into the fitness industry. I immersed myself in the crazy life of a personal trainer, and I loved it. I was making a difference and helping people. So enthusiastic and ambitious was I that after few years of hard work and focus on good nutrition, I decided to buy a café, in addition to my Personal Training business.
I worked 15 hour days, 7 days every week. The PT business was putting money into my bank account and the café was taking it straight back out. After 2 years of this crazy schedule, I was exhausted, disillusioned and in serious debt.
I then made the most illogical decision I have ever made - I decided to write a book. When I cast my mind back to that decision I am incredibly grateful that I didn’t think about it too much. It was a totally unreasonable decision for me to make, and if I’d thought about for even a minute, there’s no doubt that I would have talked myself out of it. I was already working too much. I was a footballer and a personal trainer who for most of my life vowed I would not read any books other than comics or the sport section of the newspaper. I only just passed English in year 12. I couldn’t ever imagine anyone, including myself, connecting with me as Andrew Jobling, Author!
So, why did I do it? The short answer is that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to take what I knew and share it with others and help them be happier & healthier. As a personal trainer I was limited by my time and the people I could give face-to-face attention. The idea of having a book written, holding that published work in my hands and empowering people all around the world inspired me into action. And to be very honest - maybe even a bit tacky - I wanted to be famous and wealthy!
So I made the time and I found a way. Two years later I was holding my first published book in my hands - Eat Chocolate, Drink Alcohol and be Lean & Healthy. It was such an amazing feeling … I was hooked. I had found my new passion and my only focus was creating time to write. My whole career path changed as, over the next 12-18 months, I re-engineered my work life to create a career as a speaker, author and mentor.
I’m not really sure how I did it. It was a burning desire and, what I have discovered in my life is, when you want something badly enough, there is always a way to make it happen. I learned this during my time as a professional footballer - the right thinking and hard work always win.
I now believe that I will be an author forever. My fourth book is currently with the publishers, and book 5 and 6 are already in the planning. What I love just as much as writing books is helping others achieve their own dream of writing a book, which I now do as a workshop leader.
We create our destiny by dreaming bigger than most would think reasonable, by believing in ourselves more than most would think sensible, by making decisions that many would think illogical and continuing to act way beyond the point where most would have given up.
Andrew Jobling is a happily retired footballer and Personal Trainer, author and creator of ‘One Word at a Time’ Online Workshop.
Join us next week as we return to our The Book That... series, with a beautiful piece of writing about the ocean from novelist Jock Serong.
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.