A successful, retired surgeon was lamenting this morning about cutting back his tennis schedule. We were at a social event at the tennis center when he asked about what I do as a Retirement Coach. He focused intently as I described the process of #retirement coaching and why people would use my services. It is very common for my profession to be grossly misunderstood. I try to head that off at the pass by explaining that not everyone sails blissfully into the next stage of life.
I told him the sad truth that the rates pf alcoholism, depression and suicide are rising among retired people. Some of that is due to failing health. Much of it has to do with losing a reason to get up in the morning; struggling to find a purpose; missing the joy in life.
Naturally, the conversation turned to his retirement because I am always interested in how people are navigating life after work. He said he’s doing well, and he hesitated. That’s when he explained that his knee is keeping him from playing tennis as often as wants. He doesn’t have much hope his knee is going to improve. His wife loves tennis too. Her shoulder is letting her down.
From the sounds of things, this is a big deal to them. Big because it’s one of the ways they spend time together. It’s good exercise, and tennis is a social sport. For me, that was an opening to some unsolicited coaching. I prefaced it with permission for him to stop me any time.
Retirement is a stage of life when most people like stability and calm in their lives, I explained. In fact. change speeds up as we grow older–our health, families, friends, interests, maybe even where we live. It’s often not something we fully grasp or for which we plan. Those who thrive in retirement typically learn to embrace change and even get good at it.
I have a friend whose parents moved to Florida about age 65. They were fully engaged in the good life and loved it. His dad starting out golfing 27 holes a day. A few years later, it was 18; then 6; then 12. Finally he drove a cart while his friends played. He adapted.
Finding himself in an almost identical situation, a close relative of mine quit. When he no longer had the energy for a full round of golf, he took his tees and went home. No shortening the game, no more socialization with his golf buddies, no more enjoyment of the game even as a spectator. These are the kinds of decisions we can face often in retirement. Do we adapt, or do we quit?
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” It is a powerful reminder that control is ours if we choose to embrace it.
I didn’t have time to delve into the many ways the surgeon and his wife can adapt to latest developments in their health. I could tell by his interest in our conversation that perhaps his retirement isn’t going was well as he first reported. I hope I’m wrong.
It would be understandable for a successful, former surgeon just a year into retirement to be challenged by not just his tennis schedule but much more. When we parted, he asked for my card.