Retiring at the Top of Your Game

Earlier today, Olympian boxer Ugas upsets the legendary Pacquiao in a stunning unanimous decision.

image credit: ESPN

Not much is known about Ugas, a 35-year-old boxer but Pacquiao, at 42 years of age, is a global icon in the world of boxing. He is that popular.

I used to watch all Pacquiao’s fights “live” via PPV – yes, I was one of the million Filipinos who celebrated his victories and mourned his losses.

I cannot remember when I stopped watching his fights. My main reason? I lost interest in him for two reasons:

1. When he joined politics. I admire him as a boxer. He could be the best ever in my mind as a boxer but as a politician? That’s another story.

2. When he keeps saying he will retire but he keeps fighting to this day. He has said that many times and many observers said that he has lost his footwork, a skill that he uses to outwit his opponent.

Pacquiao is not the only athlete who does not know when to retire in the prime of their careers.

Another favorite of mine, Michael Jordan, when he made his famous last shot when he was a Bull and eventually won his sixth title last 1998, “unretired” and played with the Washington Wizards for 2 more years. When he retired as a Wizard, the world hardly noticed it. He even had a publication all over the world,  yes, I read his farewell message on a national daily at that time, but it was different when he retired a 2nd time last 1998, when he won his 6th title with the famed Chicago Bulls.

Another boxer, Oscar Dela Hoya, “unretired” and fought with Pacquiao. In the end, he retired at one of the lowest points in his career. What a sad ending to end your career.

Why do some athletes “unretire”? Maybe because of the following reasons:

1.   Money.
2.   Denial that Father time caught up with them.

It’s different though in the corporate world. There are some executives who “retire” in their pre-retirement age but keeps working after “retirement” doing consulting, or they just simply “unretire” because the opportunity is there.

I have a good friend, who retired from an executive position then “unretired”, then went on to become a president of a new company, then “retired” again after the company went in another direction but “unretired” again to become a president of another company. He is now in his mid-60s and doesn’t show signs of aging, so he still has the physical and mental stamina to endure corporate work.

Strictly speaking, “retirement” does not exist. It was merely invented. It is unheard of in the early days. You can work for as long as you can. This makes sense because you need to keep on working to support your needs. The truth is, you don’t stop spending even in your retirement years. You might even spend more in your retirement years because you have to take care of your health if you have health issues.

These days, “early retirement” is something to look forward to. I believe that we can only embrace early retirement when we are ready. I even wrote an article to give advice when I think is the best time to retire. Otherwise, you might find yourself “unretiring” too if you are not prepared.



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