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Shifting Your Retirement Plans In A Pandemic

Shifting Your Retirement Plans In A Pandemic

By Mike Drak

I just learned that my annual fly fishing trip to the George in northeastern Quebec will not happen and I’m not very happy about that.

The George River is the place where I recovered from “Sudden Retirement Syndrome” and it has become my go to place for recharging, practicing my spirituality, and finding perspective. It’s the one place that I can escape from stress and technology because thankfully nothing works up there, and the only thing you can do is eat, sleep fish and think.

But it’s not going to happen this year which is a bummer because of COVID-19.

The way I see it is that I’m age 65 in my prime retirement years and I could end up wasting two of them waiting for the creation of a vaccine and things to return to normal.

The million dollar question is what do I plan on doing during those two years while I’m sitting on the sidelines waiting?

The pandemic is a good time to change your life for the better.

Since we are restricted from doing much of anything it makes sense to use the extra time on your hands and invest it in areas of self improvement. Your overall goal should be to come out of this pandemic stronger/better/more knowledgeable than you went in.

I’m working on getting healthier

At age 65 I’m classified at higher risk and I also have some underlying illnesses I need to deal with recognizing that COVID-19 could come back and hit us hard in the late fall. I suffer from both high blood pressure and obesity (I hate using that word but hey the truth hurts sometimes) and need to lose 50lbs quick.

I”m a bit of an retirement rebel in my thinking so to deal with these issues I’ve decide to start training for an Ironman to be held in Cozumel Mexico Nov/2022.

This is a big goal for me with plenty of upside in terms of improved health, and if I manage to get off those blood pressure pills well worth the pain. Some of you might think that training for ironman at age 65 is a bit of a stretch but it isn’t if you have a strong enough ‘why” for doing what you are attempting to do.

Following are some of my “why’s” for attempting an Ironman.

• I don’t want to end up in the hospital one day on a ventilator.
• I want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without being winded and feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack.
• I want to have enough energy to play with the grandkids, and be around for their graduation.
• I want to live a long time and enjoy it as much as I can traveling and doing fun things with my wife, the “Contessa”. ( I still owe her that trip to Hawaii I promised her when we were married)
• I want to look good in the mirror after getting out of the shower and not scare myself.
• I want to see my “abbs” one last time before I die.
• I want to avoid going to a nursing home.

When you have a strong enough “why” you can do some amazing things like write a book, attempt an Ironman or start your own business just like I did. And believe me I’m not that special – something that  the “Contessa” loves to remind me of.

I believe that incorporating an exercise routine into your life is one of the most powerful prescriptions you can write for yourself, and when you make exercise a part of your daily routine it will positively impact every area of your retirement.

The health benefits range from the physical to the emotional; from lower cholesterol and blood pressure to decreased stress, improved sleep, increased optimism, energy and longevity. In fact, research has shown that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant drugs in most people. An added bonus is that keeping healthy and eating right will lower the amount of money you’ll have to spend on health care, which is one of a retiree’s largest expenses.

When you transform your body, another huge benefit is the mental transformation that takes place in sync with the physical changes. Your attitude will improve as you look in the mirror and start to see your body change, especially when you drop those extra pounds you’ve been carrying around for the longest time. This will lead to other improvements, and the first thing you know is that you’ve quit smoking, cut back on the drinking and are eating better.

Keep working at it and you will feel better in your seventies than you did in your fifties and sixties, and I like the thought of that.

I’m also upgrading my technical skills.

I’m way behind the technology curve and can’t even do basic things like transferring pictures I take on my camera to my computer. My lack of basic tech knowledge frustrates me and the pandemic has given me the time to fix that.

There is so much you can learn from the comfort of your home using free online resources. Google anything you want to learn about or find the answer to – hit enter and numerous podcasts, You Tube videos and webinars will appear on the subject.

Sometimes a computer is such a beautiful thing and because of it you no longer have any excuses for not improving yourself. The only thing holding you back is your commitment and the limits you put on yourself.

In summary, time is something that we can never get back and that is why every day matters pandemic or not. Stop wasting time waiting for things to return to normal and worrying about things. Worrying about things takes a lot of effort and uses up a lot of energy. Far better to use that time and energy to improve yourself, get healthier, learn new skills and/or upgrade existing skills for when things do open up.

Believe me you will be glad that you did!

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Mike Drak

Author, Retirement Coach and Public Speaker at Victory Lap Retirement
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Mike is the Author of the best-selling book Victory Lap Retirement and also an award winning blogger, retirement coach and public speaker. Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio.