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HomeBusinessMarketSerena Williams feels 'no happiness' retiring — like many who leave jobs...

Serena Williams feels ‘no happiness’ retiring — like many who leave jobs they love

The Golden Years can look fairly blue. Just ask Serena Williams. 

The sports activities icon notes in her Vogue cover story that she’s “evolving away from tennis.” She doesn’t just like the phrase “retirement,” she says, as a result of “it doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.” And certainly, Williams, who turns 41 in September, isn’t giving up working for good; she plans to continue growing her venture-capital firm, Serena Ventures, in addition to rising her household. 

But she is leaving the tennis court docket after a legendary profession that has included 23 Grand Slam singles titles — together with the 2017 Australian Open whereas she was two months pregnant — and it feels like she’s devastated by it. 

“There is no happiness in this topic for me … I hate it.” 


— Serena Williams

“I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me,” Williams writes in Vogue’s September challenge. “I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not.” 

Read extra: Serena Williams retiring from tennis to focus on family — and her venture-capital firm

Williams writes that whereas she is prepared for what’s subsequent, the topic of stepping off the court docket nonetheless brings an “uncomfortable lump” in her throat, and he or she cries. Moving away from tennis is such a painful topic for her, the truth is, that she’s solely been capable of talk about it together with her therapist. It’s a “taboo topic” together with her husband, entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian. 

“One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this,” Williams writes. “I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way.” 

“I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way.” 


— Serena Williams

But it’s essential to notice that Williams isn’t alone right here. Many folks method retirement with blended emotions that may embrace unhappiness, remorse, disappointment, worry and nervousness — even when they don’t speak about it. In truth, virtually one in three retirees develops signs of melancholy, according to a 2020 meta-analysis of 11 research analyzing the prevalence of melancholy in retirement. 

Related: Depression, isolation, loss of purpose: Could retirement be bad for your mental health?

And retirement counselors and psychological well being specialists informed MarketWatch that it was refreshing to see Williams normalize the problem of leaving a profession that you simply liked, or that gave you a way of identification for many years. 

“Her feelings are very common. So many people have these feelings, but don’t share them, so for her to share this is extremely courageous,” stated Dr. Leeja Carter, a sports activities psychologist and the manager director on the Coalition for Food and Health Equity in New Jersey. “Transitioning from your career can create all of the same feelings that Serena Williams is experiencing — sadness, but also some identity confusion. Who am I going to be now? Where do I go?” 

Dr. Jerrold Lee Shapiro, professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, has additionally helped sufferers whose identities are wrapped up in what they do for a residing. “I’ve worked with a lot of business leaders who struggle with, ‘If I’m not the CEO anymore, who am I?’” he stated. Or Shapiro recalled that considered one of his buddies just lately mourned that individuals don’t name him “doctor” now that he’s retired, and he doesn’t know who he’s as “mister” as an alternative of “doctor.” 

“He was having a difficult time adjusting to a whole different life,” stated Shapiro, writer of “Finding Meaning, Facing Fears: Living Fully Twixt Midlife and Retirement.” 

“So to the extent that your identity is wrapped up in ‘what I do’ — instead of ‘who I am’ in total — retirement is going to be incredibly difficult,” he added. 

Read extra: How to figure out what to do in retirement, and make the transition

And exacerbating these questions of identification and goal is the loneliness and lack of construction that retirement can deliver, famous Dr. Mark Aoyagi, a professor and co-director of sports activities efficiency psychology on the University of Denver. A 2012 University of California, San Francisco research discovered 43% of older adults (over 60) felt lonely, although solely 18% really lived alone. And the COVID-19 pandemic has solely made the nation’s loneliness epidemic worse. 

“It’s actually a high-risk time for suicide,” he informed MarketWatch, explaining that emotions of hopelessness are one of many main warning indicators of suicidality. “And people who aren’t able to see a way to reconstruct their life separate from what they have been doing for so long can result in significant feelings of hopelessness.”  

Note: If you or somebody you already know is having ideas of suicide, name the free, confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Other providers embrace the Crisis Text Line (textual content HOME to 741741), the Veterans Crisis Line (press 1 after dialing the nationwide Lifeline), the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth (1-866-488-7386), the Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline (name 1-800-985-5990 or textual content TalkWithUs to 66746).

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, a GOAT (best of all time) in Williams’s league, has been candid about his personal melancholy and ideas of suicide after successful a number of Olympic medals. This is one thing Aoyagi stated is usually known as post-Olympic melancholy, or when that sense of goal, and the construction of coaching, is all of a sudden simply … over and achieved. 

“Not wanting to be alive is very scary, and I have felt it first hand,” Phelps told MarketWatch in 2017. But he’s discovered new goal as a psychological well being advocate, together with his recent documentary film project “The Weight of Gold” for HBO Sports.

So what are you able to do to make the transition to retirement extra joyful and significant, too? 

Ease into it, if doable

If you could have the power to retire by yourself phrases, Aoyagi recommends slowly scaling in that change. This can embrace decreasing your work hours steadily from 40 hours per week to 30 hours to twenty hours, which is much less jarring than going from full-time to no-time in a single day. 

“Smooth that transition and not have it be so abrupt,” he stated. Going from a rigorous work or coaching schedule to only being “done” with work can “create incredible psychological stress, and it’s even traumatic,” Aoyagi stated, citing the post-Olympic melancholy as a main instance. 

Best New Ideas in Retirement: You’re probably not ready to retire — psychologically

Shapiro at Santa Clara University recommends experimenting with what is likely to be gratifying in retirement when you’re nonetheless in your “mid-years” in your 40s and 50s. “Start checking out things that would be fun or provide meaning in your life,” similar to volunteering. 

Stick to a schedule

Make positive your days and weeks are structured with folks to see and issues to do. “What many people look forward to in retirement is being on a beach on a boat doing nothing, but that will only ‘work’ for a couple of weeks, maybe six months if you’re lucky,” Aoyagi stated. “Ultimately, for 40 years of your life, you thrived on structure, so you are probably going to want at least some of that in retirement.” 

So the specialists suggest scheduling meet-ups with buddies, together with former colleagues, or profiting from this free time to do issues you could have needed to do, however didn’t have the time throughout your profession — similar to studying a brand new talent. “Psychologically, the most crucial aspect of success as a retiree has to do with having a schedule,” stated Shapiro. “If you don’t, the days just kind of get away from you, and then you spend your life going from one doctor’s appointment to the next.” 

Stay related with buddies and colleagues

As famous above, retirees can suffer feelings of loneliness and isolation as soon as they’re not going to a job day by day. And social networks can disappear if most of your folks had been at your former place of employment, otherwise you transfer to a brand new neighborhood after you retire. 

“Human contact is really essential, and it’s been exacerbated horribly by COVID,” stated Shapiro. He recommends choosing up the cellphone and checking in with former colleagues, buddies you’ve fallen out of contact with, and members of the family. “Get back in touch with people, have coffee, have lunch — that is amazing,” he stated. 

Explore new hobbies

Finding a brand new sense of goal could make your retirement extra significant. And one technique to stumble on that new ardour is to have enjoyable doing the entire stuff you had been too busy to do earlier than, whether or not that was studying a language, attempting a brand new sport, studying to color or sculpt, going again to highschool or attempting a brand new sort of train. 

“One friend of mine always wanted to be in a rock ’n’ roll band, but he got married, had kids and became an engineer,” stated Shapiro. “But now at age 70, what is he doing? He’s in a rock ’n’ roll band with a ‘kid’ drummer who’s 60, and they play local restaurants and bars. It’s fabulous, and he’s having so much fun.” 

Give again to the neighborhood

Volunteering is a good way to verify a couple of of those off your listing: it can provide you construction, a social community and a brand new sense of goal. Plus, a 2020 research discovered that individuals over 50 who volunteered greater than 100 hours a 12 months (about two hours per week), had a lower risk of death and physical functioning limitations, as well as more optimism and purpose in life, and fewer melancholy, hopelessness and loneliness than those that didn’t volunteer.

Read extra: This is the ‘secret sauce’ to retirement satisfaction

Carter, from the Coalition for Food and Health Equity, notes that Williams’s fellow A-list athletes like LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant each discovered nice goal and satisfaction off the basketball court docket by means of philanthropy and enterprise ventures. Or some former athletes turn out to be coaches and sports activities commentators. 

So even if you’re not a professional athlete, maybe there’s a approach to make use of the abilities you’ve honed all through your profession to assist the following era in your neighborhood, similar to being a mentor, or tutoring in no matter topic you concentrate on. “Even though the job ends, that doesn’t mean your engagement with the things you loved in your career has to end,” stated Carter. “It just means it might look a little bit different.” 

Speak with a licensed therapist 

Williams writes that her therapist has been the one individual she’s felt snug discussing this case with, and the specialists that MarketWatch spoke with additionally really helpful sharing your issues with a licensed psychological well being clinician to work by means of your emotions and give you a coping technique. Or, at the very least, to achieve out to household, buddies and colleagues, and ensure you have a assist system by means of this transition. 

“What you’re feeling is just so very normal, and you shouldn’t ignore those feelings,” stated Carter. “Most people do not set goals –– nor set realistic goals –– when it comes to thinking about what is in store for the next season of your life. So it’s important to talk to someone about setting and reaching those goals.”  

Learn easy methods to shake up your monetary routine on the Best New Ideas in Money Festival on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 in New York. Join Carrie Schwab, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation.

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