written by LOU BLASER

A version of this essay first appeared in Midlife Cues, a weekly newsletter about intentional living in our middle years. Get it in your inbox; you're going to love it.


Serena Williams announced her retirement from tennis after the 2022 US Open in a personal essay published in Vogue.

The typical retirement announcement is full of happiness and “looking forward” and “I’m so excited to…”

Serena’s was different in that she talked about how difficult this decision was for her. She loved loves tennis, loves playing the game, loves competing and winning.

She wished she didn’t have to retire.

But she found herself with other competing goals. There’s a business she wanted to focus on (Serena Ventures) and a family she wanted to grow. “I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give,” she admitted.

I love her essay because it’s not one-sided.

She talked candidly about opportunities and conscious choices. It was both joyful and bittersweet.

There’s one thing she wrote that struck a chord with me:

I have never liked the word retirement. […] Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.

I think that’s a word — evolution — that we can all embrace in midlife.

We are all evolving, aren’t we? Away from things that no longer serve us … toward other things that are more important to us now.

Away from identities that no longer suit… toward who we are becoming.

  • We fall prey to the arrival fallacy when we believe that achieving our goals will make us happy. “While achieving a goal may lead to an initial burst of endorphins, the following slump may either cause disappointment that the effort you put in has not paid off in the way you anticipated or a frenzy to move onto a newer, bigger, more exciting goal.” The Arrival Fallacy: Why We Should Decouple our Happiness From Our Goals
  • “The work-then-retire model needs serious rethinking.” Dr. Laura Cartensen, the founding director of Stanford Center on Longevity, says we aren’t asking the right questions when it comes to aging and getting older. In this article, she talks about four mistakes people make and how we can live our best life no matter what decade we’re in. What We Get Wrong About Aging, According to a Longevity Expert
  • In our grandparents’ time, there was no such thing as priorities. There was only one priority. Of course, we now live in a world where we can have #allthethings. Today, we have priorities. But in reality, we still — and often — have to make trade-offs between one good thing and another good thing. How do we “truly” prioritize? This article is written from a business perspective, but the principle of “Even-Overs” can easily be applied to our personal lives as well. Even-Overs: The prioritization tool that brings your strategy to life


“Often, when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” — Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers)


Decoding the Stories That Shaped Our Lives

Once in a while, you have a conversation that shifts the way you view the world ever so slightly, and from then on, your experience is fundamentally changed.

This was definitely the case with my conversation with Ronna Detrick, a writer and a coach who focuses on the stories that have shaped women’s lives. Stories like Eve, Cinderella, or Snow White. And, of course, yes, the stories that are more unique to our family of origin.

In this episode, Ronna dissects these stories and decodes what about them has such profound impact, how we can begin to recognize and hear how they show up in our lives today, and what we can do to begin the process of reframing and reclaiming our stories.


Some evolutions are smooth, like gliding on ice.

Some involve a lot of thrashing about, resisting, and grudging acquiescence.

I think mine includes all of the above. 😊

How’s your evolution coming along?

Best wishes for a joyful and easeful week ahead.

Cool Beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Midlife Cues and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on exploring how to navigate, thrive, and turn midlife into the best phase in our life.