Nobody gets to live life backwards. Look ahead, that’s where your future lies. ~ A. Landers

Dear Mr. Manning,

I realize getting a letter from the likes of me might seem a little odd but I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all you’ve said publicly about your recent retirement. As a Wellness Coach, helping my clients make transitions to different stages of their lives is what its all about, including the planning of life after they leave their full time gig…and you’ve had quite a gig! Coming from a family that clearly lives, breathes and is the epitome focused drive, this decision could not have been easy. I watched this past winter as press coverage mounted around whether or not you’d play in the Superbowl, whether or not you’d be healthy enough to do so; that kind of scrutiny can’t be easy. To win a 2nd Superbowl sure looked to be an amazing high note to end your career on.

It was striking to see just how focused you’ve been on your career and for how long. Like many professionals you have dedicated yourself to your work for over the past 2 decades. Shifting gears could seem a bit intimating although it can’t be easy to stare out over a line of your teammates to a line of guys who just really want to smoosh you either. Surely it wasn’t personal! While I’m positive you’ve had experience analyzing situations on the playing field it might be helpful to consider that doing so now is going to be different; you have different priorities, needs and physical realities. One of the parts about making this transition is the ever changing expectations of others in your life, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Spouses, parents, children and perhaps grandchildren (well, not those for you yet) will all have ideas about how they want you to spend your time.

It appears that you took the time to really consider your options, making a thoughtful decision around when to bow out of a career that has been good to you, if not physically tough. This is a skill I encourage my clients to use on a daily basis; hasty decisions rarely go well. Wrestling with ‘who am I?’ after leaving a long career is inevitable for anyone. It can be tough to figure out what to say when people ask, “What do you do?” OK, so they might not be asking you too much but hey, you never know who won’t recognize you. Focusing on the future helps with that answer, “I’m looking forward to…”

Living arrangements are another area where it can be difficult for those moving into retirement. I’ve heard tell that you’ll be staying in Colorado, which is a great place to settle down. Since your children are young I suspect you’ll stay near a major metro area so they can have good school, access to quality healthcare and plenty of options for leisure activities. These are all critical questions to take into account as we get older and perhaps wiser.

Staying in your current location also means you’ll have friends and supports around you, another critical component of a successful retirement. As we age it is important to keep or make new friends, cultivate as many outside interests as you can and stay connected to family (yet another area you seem pretty well set in!) It also seems from afar that you likely have the financial thing in order which gives you a huge head start over many headed towards retirement. I trust you’ll use it wisely.

One more thing ~ stick to your current rituals or traditions. Practices such as staying connected to a spiritual community, having dinner with the family, celebrating holidays and birthdays are well-know, well documented tools to staying psychologically healthy. You likely have a long, long 1st retirement ahead and it would be nice to stay in the best possible shape as you can be. Something tells me you’ll have a great 2nd and 3rd act too.

Thank you for your time and here’s to a long, wonderful retirement.

Wishing you all the best!