I have written in the past about the importance of having flexibility in your retirement plan. The ability to adapt to changes in markets or the economy is one of the key elements of security and happiness during retirement. I do not believe I ever thought of how adaptable a retirement might be after 2020, which has made it clear that things can change in ways we never expect.
The Society of Actuaries released a Retirement Health & Happiness guide a few years ago (obviously pre-COVID-19). Their first and most important piece of retirement advice was that it’s essential for retirees to stay socially connected due to the beneficial effects on your emotional well-being. I think staying connected during COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge of 2020 for many of my retired clients.
It has hit many of us in ways we never expected and I wish I had a magic solution. We suddenly realize the importance of the few minutes we get to spend chatting with coworkers, friends, and even people we pass by at the grocery store. We are social creatures and now we must adapt to changes in how we socialize.
However, we can change. We are adaptable. As we experience this unique holiday season and prepare for a new year in 2021, I hope we all remember that we can change and that change is not always bad. Nothing improves without first adapting. Leonard Mlodinow wrote Elastic: Unlocking Your Brain’s Ability to Embrace Change in 2018, which is an excellent read for anyone looking for your next non-fiction book. In it he says that, “to have original thoughts, you have to let the ideas flow first and worry about their quality (or appropriateness) later.”
I want to make this my holiday wish and New Year’s advice to all retirees:
Even during these especially trying times, try new things, think new thoughts, experiment. Embrace the changes and explore ways to enjoy what you do have in new ways.
We had an idea at the office to have a Christmas decorating contest. I thought to myself, “That sounds great, let’s try it.” Famous last words, right? Things have gone a little overboard and I’m starting to question the appropriateness of this idea…
One of the challenges of retirement planning is that things can and will change, particularly over a retirement that can last decades. Be adaptable and try new things because some will be great. For example, I think Zoom meetings are a wonderful alternative for many of my clients who are unable to meet at our office.
Other ideas may be suspect in quality or appropriateness: (See collage of office photos)
Regardless, new ideas and trying new things can and will make you happier, healthier and even more energetic.
Bottom Line: Retirees need to be adaptable. Not just to changes in the economy, but to changes in the world. The rate of change is accelerating, but that can be a great thing. Happy Holidays and I look forward to a different and hopefully better 2021.