Retirement and Bucket List let downs

Have you had to amend or abandon your “bucket list” with the advent of COVID19? You’re not alone of course. For the recently retired or the busy travelling Baby Boomer set, the lockdown has caused disappointment because their dreams and expectations cannot be realised. This let-down may seem paltry in the light of just how much the world of others has been turned upside down, with illness and economic ruin, but it can become a real threat to emotional well-being. If you let it do so!

Go to any retirement send off and inevitably you hear that the newly retired will be ticking off their “bucket lists”. These often comprise travel and experiences. Clinging to future realisation of items on the list may be helping you through the lockdown, but it may also be an idea to review your list and how much psychological effort you have invested in it.

At the commencement of lockdown, a long term friend was originally very disappointed that small and large celebrations and gatherings for her significant birthday had to be either abandoned or postponed. However she has become delighted in the quiet round of her newly retired ways and is avidly pursuing literary and musical interests online. She has enjoyed catching up with friends and family online for social gatherings and is now reviewing her former busy round of part time work and social life.

Her reflection accords with something we read recently in an article from Next Avenue. They quoted Dr Jennifer Kornreich, a clinical in Huntington, N.Y. who says, “The life review, an important concept in psychology, plays a role in successful aging. For middle-aged and older people, finding satisfaction in your life’s course isn’t about ticking every wish off a bucket list. It’s more about finding coherence and meaning when you look at how you’ve lived, even if you’ve been unhappy at times.”

She continues: “It’s inevitable for all of us to have regrets about some of our choices or missed opportunities. But in a life review, it’s much easier to make peace with something like never having climbed Mount Everest than feeling as if you haven’t tapped your full potential or as if you have been a harmful parent. Bucket list adventures are definitely meaningful, but they don’t determine your overall life satisfaction.”

So the message is that to maintain your emotional well-being as we move into a post lockdown world, review your bucket list and also reconsider your expectations of life.

With thanks to Janet Siroto’s article published 18 May

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