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The Need To Reinvent Retirement During A Pandemic

The Need To Reinvent Retirement During A Pandemic

By Richard Haiduck

Reopening retirement is turning out to be a moving target. Maybe we need to think about it again.

Getting back to our original retirement plans is something we all want to do. Yes, we are the most medically vulnerable generation. But our second vulnerability is that our retirement clock is ticking. We’ve got a lot we want to do, but our time keeps getting shorter. So we have an urgency to have our plan in place to reopen our retirement as soon as it is safe to do so. That’s the old news.

The new wrinkle is the data on the spread of the virus. In the US, we are now dealing with a new wave of the outbreak. It’s worse than expected. It’s also getting harder to predict the duration of the pandemic, and how long we will need to socially distance.

You reinvented yourself once as you entered retirement. Recently you may have reinvented yourself a second time with a plan to reopen your retirement once it is safe to do so.

Is it time to reinvent another stage?

Two plans for modifying your retirement, perhaps? One plan for an extended stay at home, and a subsequent second plan for reopening your retirement.

If you thought there was a chance you were going to be sheltered in place for several more months, how would you plan for it? How would you bring joy and purpose to your locked down time? What would you like to have accomplished during that time? How will you feel if your current activities, without modification, continue for six months?

Within a plan for an extended stay at home, there may be two categories of activity to examine.

Let’s call the first one our activities of daily living.

As you have adapted to your stay at home situation, you have a new routine of how to fill the day. How’s that going? Are you happy with that routine? If you knew you were going to follow that routine for another six months, how would you change your daily routine? How could you be disruptive in a way that gives joy to you and those around you?

Our friends decided now was the time to get a dog. Well, that’s disruptive in a fun way. Others have done creative zoom parties, even involving costumes. Others have begun watching Broadway plays on Amazon. They are getting used to having front row seats, which may make reentry to cheap seats later a big adjustment. And if watching the news is getting you down, get in the habit of watching a Seinfeld rerun after the news.

The point here is not to provide a menu of choices; only you can do that.

Ask yourself to solve the challenge of improving your daily routine, done collaboratively with your partner and others living in your space. There are changes you can make to your routine. Pause, step back, and think about a bit of disruption to your activities of daily living.

The second area to consider is to set a goal.

Something big that you always wanted to do, but never had the time. Find some accomplishment that, once completed, will be a source of pride to you. You can look back at your shelter in place time and say it was a pain, but at least you accomplished one big thing that was important to you.

For those who know which end of a hammer to hold, there are home improvement possibilities. And some always wanted to read War and Peace. Learn a language, lose 10 pounds, mentor a grandchild on zoom, learn to play ukulele, start a home business, paint by numbers, carve a totem pole, learn how to be an options trader, or write a book (Oh, I’ll take that one).

Your list is better than my list. You know best what kind of project would best meet your needs. The point is to get proactive. Figure out something that would be really cool to do, which takes a pretty intense commitment of time, and which you can look back at with pride.

So the idea is to reinvent your retirement twice. Reinvention number one will deal with the possibility of an extended stay at home period. It will include modifications to your daily routine, as well as a longer term project.

Your second reinvention will be to have a plan for reopening your retirement as the pandemic situation eases. Plan now, be ready for the easing, so that you don’t miss a beat once it is safe.

Even Dr. Fauci, with all of his expertise, cannot precisely predict how this pandemic is going to play out. It appears certain that we are in for a roller coaster of news and adjustments, and that uncertainty will be the norm. We can hope for the best, but have a plan in place if a quick reopening does not happen.

The pandemic status has dramatically changed in the few short weeks since my first post on reopening retirement. If stay at home does drag on, and you have figured out a new life plan to deal with it, you will get the most out of this time. If the vaccine arrives and the duration of the pandemic is shortened, you will still have a better time during the shortened lock down.

Does that sound like a win/win to you?

Richard Haiduck is a retired life science executive and author of upcoming Tales of Retirement, a book about the retirement experiences of his fellow baby boomers and how they are actively reinventing themselves in this stage of their lives. Along with currently enjoying his own retirement, he is also a mentor at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. You can contact Richard through his website.

This post was originally published on Richard Haiduck and has been reprinted with permission.