What keeps you going?

-By Sunél Veldtman


Some thoughts for those of us in the later stage(s) of our career

Watching Federer and Nadal battle it out for the Australian Open Title, I marvelled at both men’s endurance. I have to confess, I am a Federer fan. There he is, late in his career, in better shape than ever and at the top of his game. What keeps him going? What keeps him motivated to win another one?

Not only does he keep going, he has also decided to come back from knee surgery last year at the age of 35. He was at the pinnacle: the greatest male tennis player ever with 18 grand slam titles behind his name. He could’ve easily retired to spend more time with his young family. However, not only did he come back but he came back with a new coach, to become only the second person ever to claim five Australian Open titles.

It cannot possibly be about the money. In his own words he said he’s made enough to last three generations.

So what can we learn from Federer?

This is an important question for us all: What keeps us going? Especially the ones who have been around in an industry for a few decades.

  • Be disciplined. Looking at Federer’s physical shape (easy on eye isnt he?) – it’s clear that he has changed his diet and fitness routine. He is less bulky and looks super fit. The hours of disciplined training is paying off. Discipline is such an important part of success, and continued success. Early on in our careers we are driven by the desire to prove ourselves. For most of us, that has happened. We have earned our stripes. However, we need to remind ourselves to keep the discipline of good habits. Whatever that requires. It can even revive our lives. Disciplines of exercise, good diet, good sleeping habits and seeking healthy friendships are crucial at a generally challenging time in our lives (menopause and mid-life crises are the silent stages that come with huge challenges.)
  • Keep learning. Appointing a new coach and adopting a new game plan is testimony to Federer’s desire to improve. The desire to learn will keep us fresh and competitive. I often have to remind myself to keep an open mind about learning from younger colleagues. We can never get complacent. We should always keep learning even if we are no longer competing in the workplace. It will keep us in good mental health.
  • Set new goals. Federer admits that he could’ve stopped playing tennis after becoming the Wimbledon champion the first time because that was his life’s ambition. But he didn’t stop there. He set his sights on a further goal. We should all set more goals and dream bigger dreams, no matter what our age.
  • Having fun. I have industry colleagues who are still at it at 70. Why? Why not? Federer said he’s not retiring because tennis is still great fun! We should be the same. Never stop having fun.

So keep at it. If you are no longer having fun, change direction, but keep at it as long as possible. For yourself. Your health. Your quality of life. Keep going.




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