Retiring Retirement and Serena Williams
Developing a longevity mindset
Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, recently announced her retirement from professional tennis. Interestingly, the winner of 23 Grand Slam tennis tournaments, had this to say,
“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago, I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.”
The average age of retirement for professional tennis players is around 30 years, and lesser for women, and this makes transition into the non-playing world that much more vital. For example, Serena is 40 years old and has dedicated a large part of her life (and time) to the sport, and in the process, achieved tremendous financial success. Agreed that not everybody is Serena and has the resources at her disposal, however, it sparks an interesting question about how individuals perceive themselves and plan for their future.
Research globally indicates that there is a tendency for people to underestimate their longevity, and thus they are likely to pay little attention to different life stage transitions. Although India does’t face the same demographic transitions like much of the US, Europe and some parts of Asia, the absolute number of people entering their third (50+) and fourth stages of life (75+) is on the rise. This requires us to think beyond the traditional binaries of work and retirement, and evolve a much more nuanced understanding of longevity - a longevity mindset.
A longevity mindset is one where you decide and wholeheartedly believe that longevity is normal and attainable. With a longevity mindset, aging is abnormal, and longevity is what’s considered healthy. This mindset permanently benefits the way you live, think, and act.
Staying optimistic and planning for life stages is one way to evolve this mindset into a healthy living code. An earlier article on 100 Year Life highlights some of the research and work around this aspect.
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