When Olympic careers end, many athletes endure emotional stress or cope with the comedown by turning to drugs, the New York Times reports. Few can expect the multi-million-dollar endorsement deals that await Michael Phelps, and many fail to redirect their focus. The fix, says one sports psychologist, is to identify a BHAG: a "big, hairy, audacious goal."
One study of Czech Olympians found that only 17% made the transition without distress or substance abuse. Some, like speedskater-turned-surgeon Eric Heiden, do find a "BHAG." But most endure nights like Bruce Jenner's after he won gold in Montreal in 1976. “I had no plans, nothing,” he said. "I mean, I was extremely satisfied but also devastated by the finality of it all."