I had a good chance to see what retirement might look like when we were sequestered for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 requires serious action. But, admittedly, there are the occasional lighter aspects.
After a British Columbia board meeting, my wife and I decided to fly over to Phoenix to see some friends just for a few days. Of course, after we arrived then the talk about shutting the border came up, so he headed home. I’ve always used the hand sanitizers at airports, but now they seem to be set at jumbo ejection discharge. I struggled to wipe it all over my hands. With all the foam still covering my palms and back of my hands, I felt I couldn’t walk away from the hand station since I am sure everyone would be askance as to whether foaming at the cuticles was a new symptom. I resorted to cleaning up to my elbows.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
If you just recently came back from your vacation, you likely addressed the greatest of all existential questions. When can I retire?
Not that we all hate work, but some of us long for something more. Or perhaps just something different.
But what does retirement mean? Is this simply stopping work? Most of us stop work while we sleep. Some of us may dream of work, but that requires greater psychotherapy than what we have time for right now.
Retirement becomes a transition from one phase to another phase of life. Some consider retirement a transition into leisure, which requires its own definition.
Robert Stebbins, a sociologist, wrote a number of books including The Idea of Leisure, First Principles. He describes leisure as an uncoerced, contextually framed activity engaged in during free time, which people want to do and, using their abilities and resources, actually do in either a satisfying or a fulfilling way. Although this seems to suck all of the fun out of it, He suggests taking four different ways to achieve this type of leisure.
Firstly, a person requires a good balance of activities. Constant leisure may be a difficult thing to achieve. One must include any number of things one does not want to do. Call them duties.
Secondly, leisure also requires positive continuous improvement. Sitting on a beach with an unending supply of tiny umbrella drinks sounds pleasant, and it likely could be for the first hour. Or two. But he suggests continuously improving oneself, even though this sounds exhausting
Thirdly and fourthly, he suggests positive relationships and positive interaction with the community. We are better overall interacting with the rest of society. After all, we are all in this together, and no one is getting out of here alive anyway.
Retirement then involves leisure hopefully, but it involves much more.
Never let a good crisis go to waste. —Winston Churchill
Churchill recognized the basis of good change management. If you needed to get something done but couldn’t under normal circumstances, then a good old-fashioned crisis usually allows you to get the changes you want.
Following a new path requires some serious change management thinking. Setting some small achievable goals, getting some quick wins, obtaining buy in from the top amongst others. Getting buy in usually means your significant other. But having a bit of urgency always helps the change management process.
Nearing, or entering retirement the sense of urgency should become more apparent. The ride of your life is starting to enter the end game, so it’s time to up your game for what is ahead. This is not the end of times, but you can start to see it from here.
That seems a bit morbid, but the time to change what your future might look like begins now. Now is the time to seize what the future can actually look like.
10. Envision the future since shit happens when you are busy making other plans. Trying to maximize your happiness/contentment/bliss (HCB) requires planning. Although enlightenment requires serendipity, all other forms of actualization can require a bit of planning. You should not expect that going off to the deck with a cup of coffee and the morning paper is going to maximize your HCB. Maximizing your mini umbrella collection will not cut it after a while.
7. Pursue Nature but be careful if it pursues you back. We are all suffering from nature deficit disorder, so make sure you get your daily supplement. But make sure to look out for things that want to eat you. Nature has no sense of humor or sense of irony.
6. Keep on top of Change as things keep changing. You don’t have to be at the front end but try not to let the wave of change completely pass you by. Sometimes new things are theoretically comprised of older things. So it can be better to keep with those things as they keep changing.
5. Balance your money flows. You really have to pin down your potential revenues coming in and what your expenses might be. We spend so much time on revenue generation that we do not spend the same amount of time as to what the future might look like and the potential costs of that.
At some point in time, you are going to want to downsize that house along with your cars. This might correspond with increased medical costs. You might want to move closer to your children so that you can be closer to any potential grandchildren. A decrease in the distance is inversely proportional to the amount of guilt that is produced.
3. Connect with others, especially your significant other. An important point would be discussing retirement planning with your significant other. You are going to be seeing more of each other. A lot more. And if my spouse were reading this, I would just confirm that it sounds fantastic!
So it would better to be on the same page. After a few months, you might be thinking about exploring the middle of Asia. And your suffering spouse may be beginning to think that sending you there sounds like a good idea.