If you are approaching, beginning or in the midst of retirement, there is a great likelihood that you have some baggage that you could let go of. Few of us get to age 55 or more without some things that are weighing us down. Transforming your retirement into a joyful, productive time of life is much easier without the baggage. Taking some time now to think about that and make some decisions can greatly impact the quality of your days ahead.
REGRETS can be a powerful category of baggage. It’s nearly inevitable that we’ve missed opportunities (didn’t invest in that Microsoft stock when it was first offered?), had misplaced priorities (was work really more important than going to your kid’s graduation?), or made rash statements (how could you know it would be the last time you spoke to her?). Some things we may brush off, some we may remember them and learn from, some we may obsess about.
If there’s a nagging regret with guilt feelings that can bubble up with certain trigger thoughts or experiences, it’s worth spending the time to dig into that a bit deeper. If you ignore these regrets, they can hinder your journey of transforming your retirement. Here are some questions to help you come to peace with regrets and be less likely to create regrets that become obsessions in the future. These could be specific situations or incidents, or a pattern of behavior or activity or time.
Think about the situation, who was involved, what you specifically regret, and the choices you made or actions you took. Did you have other alternatives and what were they? And perhaps most important, what meaning are you giving to the impact of your words, actions or choices in this situation?
Now that you have a clearer picture, you can decide to let it go. Here are a couple of ways to do that. You might write a letter to the person(s) involved explaining what happened, why you did what you did (or didn’t do) and express what you regret. End with a statement of apology or whatever you want to express. You may feel moved to send or give it to those involved if it is possible. Or you may choose to take a symbolic action such as burning it or discarding it to end the power of these regrets in your life.
You can also write yourself a letter in which you forgive yourself and give yourself permission to let go of the pain and regret. You might include a statement of what you learned from this and what will be different because of it.
This process can free up energy and creativity for being and doing more of what you most want to do in these years in the process of transforming your retirement into a joyful time of life.