Another One of Those Studies

 

Image by Suhas Rawool from Pixabay

I see this week the British Press has picked up on a study published in New Ideas in Psychology. It's by Norwegian expert Hermundur Sigmundsson and is titled Passion, Grit and Mindset in the ages 14 to 77: Exploring relationship and gender differences. 

The media reports are obviously easier to read than the scientific analysis and their coverage of your get up and go leaving at the age of 53 has been amusing to say the least. Despite conjuring for me an image of John Wayne in True Grit, it is nevertheless an accepted given that passion, grit and mindset are amongst the most important attributes required in order to be successful. Sadly the study shows that the correlation between the three has broken down by our early fifties. We can get through with sheer tenacity but the passion is gone, or we still hold the belief but lack the energy.

I guess I'm living proof of creeping cynicism as I age, an increased boredom threshold and yes my vitality escaping out of the window when it's left open. Of course, I was expecting the study to conclude that whilst we might hit rock-bottom in enthusiasm and vigour in the twilight of our working years, all is successfully restored in retirement.

As ever, it's not that simple. Stagnating in retirement might even be easier than at work because it seems that to fire on all cylinders what we need is something more than keenness, however well-intentioned. To stay motivated requires something that ignites the fire within and propels us forward. A successful retirement demands that we find what it is and work hard at it. 

In the initial honeymoon period, retirement life was exciting because it was different to what had gone before. I could leap out of bed, determined to carve something different for my future. Exploring this alternative world reignited the flame, but, as I wrote yesterday, coronavirus restrictions force you to re-examine the reality and to seek new horizons.

I'm sure there is potential happiness to be found in the life of a couch-potato and I'm also conscious that when I go bounding off, bouncing with gusto, the intensity of the spirit may not be matched by the ability to maintain the long-term interest. In other words, my initial effort may be rendered futile by the lack of continuing momentum. Does it matter? I can shrug my shoulders and say that post-54 my age is against me; I at least tried; it was a new experience. In fact, I could even make a retirement out of novel exploits; isn't that what the bucket list approach that I have so far failed to embrace is all about?

For the moment, however, I shall remain committed to the research and writing I referred to in my last post but, if at any point it becomes a burden rather than a joy, then I shall be on my way again and even better if that coincides with the reopening of virus-free travel destinations.


Comments

Treaders said…
I'm not sure we need to go through life like the Energizer Bunny but there is merit to trying new things. I think while we retired folks think we have all the time in the world to do this or that, in reality we don't and it's good to realize that. Still, if sitting on the sofa reading is what floats your boat there's nothing wrong with that either is there. Isn't that what retirement is all about?
Caree Risover said…
And if you sit on the sofa for a week on end, doesn't that say something about your determination and mindset as well as passion for the book you are reading? I can't help thinking that by the time we get to 54, most people have worked out that being a stereotypical high achiever doesn't necessarily fit with that stage of their life and that going with the flow instead can bring happiness and be heaps easier.

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