Flaim agrees: "When you're an athlete at that level, you understand the power of planning for the long term. You're not just thinking about today or tomorrow." In fact, he says it was his experience as an Olympian, working so hard for a big goal and then finally reaching it, that inspired him to go into financial planning.
"I thought it would be immensely satisfying to help [clients] identify their big goals, whether it's selling a business, building retirement income, or buying a vacation home, and then working with them to achieve them," he says. Flaim, 45, is now a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services in Portsmouth, N.H.
For Olympians coming out of the London Games with bigger profiles and new earning opportunities, Braxdale recommends rethinking financial goals. Successful Olympians might decide they want to retire early, for example, or make different investments. "Develop a real financial plan and make sure the money is going to work for you in the long haul," says Braxdale.
Flaim also encourages today's Olympians to plan for the future. "The opportunity you have won't last forever," he warns. After his own Olympic career ended, Flaim did a number of speaking engagements and public appearances and worked for NBC covering the 2002 Olympic Games. After about four years, he launched his career as a financial adviser.
Charity can also weigh heavily on athletes' minds. Many Olympians also cited the importance of philanthropy in the TD Ameritrade survey. Flaim founded the Flaim Foundation after the 1994 Olympic Games, with the goal of enriching the lives of underprivileged children through sports and recreation. "I wanted to do something positive and give back," says Flaim.
That kind of legacy can last well beyond the all-to-brief Olympic Games.