How we deal with lockdown can help us in retirement
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know that every month I like to bring you a new podcast. Well, this month that won’t be happening because, unfortunately, and like many of us, I’ve been in quarantine.
I started suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 about two weeks ago and I’ve been very ill, meaning that delivering you my work has fallen behind. I’m sorry for that, but I know you’ll understand.
The good news is that I am now on the mend, and well enough to write this blog. While I’ve been ill, I’ve been thinking about how the period of isolation that many of us are going through has parallels with retirement. And how a lot of the challenges that this presents can be dealt with using the strategies that I teach my clients, and that I will also soon be sharing with you in my online program.
A sudden lack of purpose
So how can I connect this isolation to retirement? It strikes me that there are three main comparisons. The first is the sudden lack of a sense of purpose many of us are feeling, thanks to this abrupt change in the way we are living our lives.
Suddenly, many of us are without our daily commute and strict routine – and worse, some of us are facing the reality of losing our jobs. And although many retirees see this prospect as appealing to start with, they soon discover the reality of an existence without purpose.
And what is that reality? Aimlessness: what philosopher James Allen cautioned is “a vice and such drifting must discontinue for him that would steer clear of catastrophe”.
It’s easy to be aimless during this lockdown. I certainly have been, as I have been unwell. But just as I advise my clients in retirement, with some planning, you can retain a sense of purpose amid the chaos, and avoid the perils of aimlessness.
In retirement, my advice is to embark on a new adventure, a new world of work, where because you love what you do, you won’t have to work another day.
In this strange time, you can do a similar thing: what new adventures can you find at home? A gardening project? An online cookery course? A fitness goal that you can achieve in your own living room or garden? Anything like this, where there is a goal, and a structure in place to achieve it, can help to avoid drifting during the crisis.
A challenge to our relationships
The second way in which I feel this lockdown period is like retirement concerns our relationships. Is being at home constantly with your partner creating a different – and challenging – environment? If so, you are not alone.
Be reassured, that, once again, some planning can help. To avoid arguments and tensions, I advise my clients to think about what passions they share with their partner. This period of isolation could be an opportunity to explore what life offers you both in a new and joyful way.
Just as in retirement, you both have to be willing to look forward. Think of this as a time to grow, to create new experiences, and to enjoy learning anew. Consider what you could do together in isolation: take up a card game you can play together, like bridge, or begin a shared hobby such as learning a language or painting, perhaps with the support of an online course.
And remember, it is important now, as it is in retirement, to keep up our other connections too, both personal and professional. In isolation, this can be done online. Why not have ‘Zoom’ parties with your friends? It will give you anecdotes to tell your partner about, especially at a time when we are all short on stories to tell.
Change your mindset
The final way in which lockdown is like retirement is that we all need to find a mindset that will help us thrive in a challenging time. I encourage my clients to practise gratitude and meditation. You can find out more about this on my social media channels and by listening to my podcasts.
Retirement is an opportunity to break old habits, to renew the old you, so that you can allow new habits, the new you, to emerge. This is why I talk about a ‘Retirement Rebellion’: because this view is not the one held by most people. But by adopting this mindset, you can create fresh energy and find a new lease of life.
Now, in this challenging time, we can all learn from this, whatever age we are at. And the benefit is, we will all be more ready for retirement when it comes.