Posted On August 31, 2020

Shelter-in-Place is Good Practice for Retirement!

Reprinted with permission.

Regardless of where you are in your professional journey, the experience of sheltering-in-place can be looked at as practice for retirement!

“Huh?” you say. “If this is retirement, don’t sign me up.” Or maybe you’re thinking there is no way this shelter-in-place has anything to do with retirement. Let’s take a look:

It’s been over two months that we have been unable to go out to our usual places – work/gym/movies/parties/travel, etc. At first it seemed like it would be short-term, and we could handle it just fine. We can either work from home, catch up on our sleep, or simply relax. After all, there’s online shopping, and we can have our groceries delivered.

“Retirement is different,” you argue.
“Retirement will let me do what I want to do when I want to do it.
Now I can hardly go out – I wake up every morning wondering
‘What am I going to do today?'”

Exactly. As a retirement coach, I’ve spent a lot of time asking people, “So, when you retire, what are you going to do and when are you going to do it?” I get answers like,

“Oh, I’ll figure that out later, but I can tell you, my bank statement looks good!”

That’s when I remind them that retirement is about more than money. Yes, having enough money is very important, and your financial consultant can work with you to help figure out how much will be enough for that sailboat, your dream travels, or simply to pay off your mortgage.

But what about the rest? This pandemic is putting those same questions to you right now. Are you physically fit? How do you handle change? Who is your social network? What brings you fulfillment and peace? Well, the good news is that with ‘shelter-in-place’ you have been practicing! Take a look:

I say: It’s so important to find the time and get into the habit of doing some form of exercise. Some people may find it hard to stick to a routine or think a walk with your dog in the morning is enough. Many people talk about how when they retire they are going to travel. Well, just remember traveling comes with physical and mental demands, like delays, uncomfortable seating or a crowded environment.

Taking care of your health and body will help you do what you want to do and embrace those 20-30 years that are yours to enjoy when you do decide to retire.

Covid-19 says: Ok… So you got restless sitting around. You figured out that taking walks and joining those online exercise classes help you feel physically fit while I’m around? Good for you. Guess I’ll find somebody else who spends most of the day thinking exercise is getting up to check out what’s in the refrigerator. Speaking of the fridge, are those pants you always put on getting tighter… ?

I say: “Things turn out best for those people who make the best of how things turn out” is a mantra to live by. Having a positive mental outlook helps make you more resilient and able to better handle the changes that come your way. Sometimes, those plans you made just aren’t going to work out. On the other hand, with a positive outlook you may start a new business or envision a whole new career.

According to a 2019 report by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest share of older Americans in more than 50 years are working well into their 60s, and it’s not because they need the money. Whatever you choose to do, work now on becoming more optimistic and you’ll be better able to handle stress.

Covid-19 says: Ha! I’m keeping you on your toes – is the curve up or leveling? Should you go out or stay in? Since everyone is home now, what’s for lunch? (Depressed yet?) I have to admit that somehow you really are pretty resilient. You’re using this time to clean out closets, plant that garden, and enjoy family time! Did I hear conversations about being grateful? About having confidence that the scientists will eventually come up with a vaccine? It kinda takes the fun out of my search and destroy.

I say: “One of life’s basic human needs is connection.” When thinking about retiring, how will you stay connected? If most of your friends and acquaintances have been people you work with, be aware that you will not be joining them for lunch every day. If you move somewhere near your kids and grandkids, remember kids grow up and are busy with their friends and activities. Take a good look at yourself. Think about who you are now and what you enjoy doing. Broaden your social network, and have a discussion with your partner about his/her vision of life in retirement.

Covid-19 says: Well, for those of you who have the ‘go-go’s’ just get used to being at home. ‘Make new friends but keep the old,’ and all that? Well, maybe. But just because you are getting out a bit, don’t plan too many big dinners and parties yet. I’m still here. Although…, there does seem to be a lot of new neighborhood friendships happening.

I noticed that before I arrived you never took the time to get to know your neighbors. Looks a lot different now. By the way, what’s the deal with Zoom? I thought it was just for business meetings! Lots of you guys got really creative and figured out how to work from home with meetings, talk and play with the grandkids, and even form book clubs where you can meet new people. Impressive. But just remember, it’s true I don’t like the heat – but there’s always winter!

I say: “When I talk about spirituality, I am talking about who you are as a person – your basic core beliefs and values.” Goals and priorities change as you get older. No longer do you strive for the promotion or the bigger house and fancier car. Instead, ask yourself, how important is feeling fulfilled? Spending time with family and friends? Being creative and motivated? Shifting easily into retirement requires taking inventory of yourself.

Covid-19 says: Well, well, look at that. You people have been so quick to reach out to each other. Even being kind enough to share your toilet paper? Amazing! After the restaurants closed, some of the owners kept people on by cooking meals for doctors, nurses and others at the hospitals. Impressive. I even hear that the donation centers are overloaded with bags and boxes of things that you finally realized you didn’t need any more. (And you are not even waiting for the tax receipt!) All this “We are in this together,” stuff was a real surprise. But, whatever. I’m still here – until you figure out how to get rid of me!

See? You are building good habits that will pay off when – some day! – you are ready for retirement. Isn’t it funny how “Things turn out the best for people who make the best of how things turn out!”?

Keep practicing! Get physical; find creative ways to spend your time, and continue to offer random acts of kindness to your friends and neighbors. And feel good knowing that you are paving the path to retirement!