HOW RETIREMENT PREPARED ME FOR LOCKDOWN

All the adjustments that are made to make retirement a joy translate perfectly into a pandemic lockdown. Contentment must be contagious.

RETIREMENT 101

Last year I did a lot of thinking, adjusting, and reordering of my life when I decided that I wasn't going to look for another job after leaving the job from hell. It took me time to figure out what was important to me - what I wanted to keep, and what I was happy to discard. My biggest takeaway from the process was that I wanted to have an Unbusy retirement - one where I had the freedom and flexibility to do what I liked when I felt like it - not rushing from one activity to the next without pause.

What I didn't realize was that I was pefectly setting myself up for being able to cope with all the changes that lockdown and sheltering at home would bring during a pandemic. I don't think I'd even heard the term "pandemic" or understood the concept of self-isolation until coronavirus decided to put in an appearance. But, being settled into retirement meant that I was well and truly prepared for the changes that came our way, and it has really had very little impact on my overall happiness.

Happiness is getting to sleep in and waking up to a quiet house, with no plans, and getting to linger over the first warm cup of coffee and tea. #peacefulquotes

FILLING MY DAYS

Last year when the thought of never returning to work became a reality, I began to wonder "what if I get bored?" How was I going to fill my days when I had no job to take up some of my time? Would I be sitting around watching the world go by while I slowly became dull, colourless, and boring? What if the days dragged and I felt like I was living life in slow motion? Basically, how was I going to fill all this down time?

I needn't have worried, the days just flowed along and life has been pleasant. I have so many little interests to fill my days - reading, blogging, walking, talking, listening to podcasts, and so the list goes on. All of these transfer perfectly to lockdown and being at home, and the other "external" things like volunteering, Tai Chi, exercise class, coffee dates etc are all going to be waiting for me when life returns to normal. It's actually been kind of nice having a change in my routine.

Some people don't understand that sitting in your own house alone in peace, eating snacks and minding your business is priceless. #contentmentquotes

FINANCES

One adjustment I was worried about when I retired was how we'd go without my fortnightly earnings appearing in the bank to bolster the family income. I wondered if we'd be draining our savings or if we'd be in dire straights if my husband reduced his work. It turns out that this year he decided to cut back on one of the areas he was working in (which generated a fair amount of our income) and the world didn't end. We found that our needs were small and there's nothing that we're feeling deprived about.

Along came COVID lockdown and his work took a bit more of a hit, but seeing we already knew we were fine living on a modest income, we've not been overly bothered. There's still plenty in our bank account, the wolf's not knocking on the door, and we've already put in place all that's needed to live in "genteel poverty". Lockdown will end, people will need his services again, and in the meantime we've been well prepared for a time of reduced earnings - I mean, what is there to spend money on at the moment anyway? We're not eating out, we're not shopping, we're not going to the movies, we're not travelling, so living is very cheap when we're home all day!

I make myself rich by making my wants few - Henry David Thoreau #lifequotes

FEELING FINE

A lot of people are struggling with being at home so much, they find it hard to have less money to spend, and nowhere to go. Being told to shelter at home was fine for a couple of weeks, but the longer it goes on, the more resistant they're becoming. Being retired has allowed me to learn to slow down, to not feel the need to be "on" all the time. I'm really good at being in my own space and occupying myself without external entertainment. I don't miss going in to work, I have no desire to be out partying or roaming around the shops looking for something to buy. 

Retirement allowed me to choose a peaceful and serene life - a quiet life - and it meshes really well with what's being asked of us by our government. I might be a little cheesed off that I can't visit my kids or grandgirls, but I know that will come again and I still see them via the lovely internet (what would we do without the internet?!) I feel like I've already dealt with all the changes that others are struggling with, and I've found a place of contentment that I don't need to be rescued from. I'm not itching to get back to my old life because it wasn't that different to what I have now - peace, serenity, and calm. What's not to love?

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live. Bertram Russell #lifequotes

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Pat from Retirement Transition also wrote about how retirement helped her stay at home - so obviously this is something we've both been appreciating. Are you finding similar themes in your self-isolation or are you struggling with being alone more and having less to distract yourself with?

RELATED POSTS


All the adjustments that are made to make retirement a joy translate perfectly into a pandemic lockdown. Contentment must be contagious.
All the adjustments that are made to make retirement a joy translate perfectly into a pandemic lockdown. Contentment must be contagious.

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42 comments

  1. Leanne,
    OMG!! we are kindred souls because this is yet one more post that I could have written myself...I too enjoy a quiet , peaceful life in my retirement!! I am still working on slowing down but that is because I have a 2-3 year To Do List.... I too worked in a very toxic environment and after all the drama, I was just so tired of people in general...My husband says I am anti- social but as a nurse, I took care of people at their worst..when they are ill...So I need a break from people and this "Stay at Home" situation also has not changed much for me. I would maybe go out shopping for fun once a week and to visit family here and there but I really relished staying home...I too feel that retirement prepared me for this and I am doing well during this time that is so difficult for others...Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

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    1. Hi Deb - it's a lovely stage of life isn't it? I was so worried that I'd be bored or that there wouldn't be enough to keep me interested (and interesting) and instead I've found this whole new world of "pleasantness" - life is just good and lovely and quiet - and that suits me perfectly.
      I totally understand how you'd be enjoying the break from needy people and to not have to be catering to everyone all the time. I love not being responsible for people too - I was working for a surgeon - so no more theatre bookings, follow-ups, preps etc, no worries about missing a step anywhere. Just me (and my husband and cats) and our needs are very few. Life is pretty darn perfect!

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  2. Hi, Leanne - I am sooooo grateful that I am retired during this pandemic. I watch all of the juggling that young family members are doing -- trying to work at home, while their children are also at home (without daycare) and their spouses are also at home also trying to work (in very small spaces). I'm so appreciative that I do not need to face this challenge and that I can design my own (quiet) days!

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    1. I feel for them too Donna - schools have started again here in Australia and there would have been MANY families that breathed a sigh of relief to have one less thing to juggle - homeschooling on top of working from home and not being allowed to socialize too much would be very stressful. Retirement in contrast is very peaceful!

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    2. Hi, Leanne - I'm dropping in again to share on my social media.
      #MLSTL

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  3. While I'm not bored, or unable to find things to do, I can't say I feel peaceful and unconcerned. What is happening to others and particularly our economy is a constant reminder that all is not well. While I realize that I'm powerless to change the situation, I'm afraid that it has unfortunately affected my peace of mind.

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    1. I'm working on being grateful for all that is well in my life and with my family and wider community. Maybe it isn't as impactful for me because Australia hasn't been hit too hard with this virus and it's being managed so well. It would certainly be a lot more stressful if we were somewhere where masks were compulsory and people were falling ill or dying from the pandemic. I'm very grateful for where we live and I'm so sorry it's causing you to be so unsettled and worried. Hopefully things will turn around soon x

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  4. Hi Leanne, When my husband retired early, from the Postal service, back in 2009, we moved to Ecuador. We were excited to be going to a foreign country, but also nervous about whether we could sustain ourselves with the pay cut. It turned out to be the best decision we ever made and we've never looked back. We don't spend as much because we found that we don't need as much. Never have we been able to save so much, which gave us the opportunity to buy this house cash and be able to renovate it with cash. Thanks for sharing another great post!

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    1. Hi Christina - I think when we make smart choices financially and don't let our wants outweigh our needs and our budget, we find we need very little for a happy life. I love being debt free, and I really enjoy reading about others who are living their lives in a way that brings them joy and satisfaction - and (in your case) lots of adventures!

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  5. Leanne, Thanks so much for the mention! Like Donna says above, I am so happy I'm not trying to work from home and juggling kids, like many of my friends are trying to do. I'm reusing many of the tools I found in my early retirement days of transition to figure out a new normal. Here, with still over 500 new cases a day in our state, while stay-at-home is reducing, the world out side is very different. No large gatherings means no live theater, no concerts, no arts & crafts shows, no parties, no in-person classes. There's limits on restaurant seating and museum attendees. That is a lot of my life design.... so a new normal will need to emerge. So while retirement taught me to appreciate the slower pace and times of just being, it also taught me how to find a new normal... and I will.

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    1. Hi Pat - I think I'm less social than you are (and probably a bit more restrained with our budget!) so I'm not missing too many of the gatherings that are on hold. I do miss coffee dates and the movies - but they are things that are "extras" and not necessities, so I'm fine. I'm so grateful that all the basics are still readily available and we're not having any new cases in Western Australia (one in the last week) so things are starting to ease up a bit. I'm actually using my time to decide on what I want to pick back up again when the new normal starts - it's another shake-up of my routines and I'm getting good at adjusting!

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  6. I feel the same way. I'm not retired, but do work at home so the stay home thing was easy for me. And I have plenty of things to keep me busy at home. I have missed going out shopping with my sister, but we got a fix in doing a little bit of it online together over the weekend. Mostly I want to go out with the girls for margaritas. Soon I hope.

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    1. Hi Lori - I miss my coffee dates, but I've been going for a walk with my friend instead, and enjoying sitting on a bench by the beach with my husband instead of in a cafe. I'll love it when the movies start again, and when more shops are open, but things are pretty good here and they're freeing up travel restrictions within our State - so time with the kids and grandgirls is on my near horizon - bliss!

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  7. I'm thankful (as is my daughter) that I didn't have to home-school - she says that she would have had to repeat a year if I did...and I don't think she was joking.

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    1. I'd have been a bit of a task mistress if I homeschooled, so my kids should be exceedingly grateful that they missed the "opportunity" too. I think you've got more than enough on your plate without having to add homeschooling to the mix!!

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  8. Leanne, travel is a big part of what makes retirement satisfying for us and the reality of how that will change has contributed to an occasional 'funk.' Other than that, it has been fine. We have our daughter and her boyfriend living with us which helps to add structure to each day,and they provide a daily dose of 'family' which is much appreciated. Mostly, this time has been about mindset and attitude.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - mindset and attitude are definitely the key to moving through this uncertain time with a smile and the knowledge that it won't get us down too much. I'm so grateful that I didn't have any major travel plans in place that this would have thwarted, but I'm also a little bit jealous of those families who had their adult children and/or grandchildren nearby and accessible. Our travel restrictions have been lifted a little and we have been with our grandgirls again - bliss!

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  9. It's an interesting point, on how some people's life didn't change much and others did. We had really busy social weekends and during the week I would see a play or a concert usually twice a week. Plus lunches with friends. I miss the arts and being in a crowd the most. I have a friend, who other than working from home, her life hasn't changed at all. She did do that much and is just glad not to have to socialise. I find this quite hard to understand but it's very much an 'each to his own'. That all said, with whatever we lost, we gained something new in it's place...so it's been good to shake things up in a way...now if the whole stupid thing can just go away....fingers crossed!!

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    1. Hi Lydia - it definitely depends a lot on the type of life you led pre-COVID. My socializing and external activities had definitely narrowed down, and those that were left weren't defining my in any way. I was happy to take a step back and rest from it all - to not have any commitments seemed like the perfect (lazy) life. But, like you, I'm over it all now and ready to get back into full swing again - it may be a different swing, but it would definitely be nice to be out and about a bit more!

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  10. Happy for you Leanne that you're so content in retirement and lockdown. I miss being able to meet in person with friends and family, and being in public without the thought that my loved ones or myself might get sick or even die as a result of the COVID-19 virus. I have many things that interest and entertain me at home, so that part is good. Taking time to be grateful for the positive of this situation and practice of law of attraction. Visiting at #MLSTL. Have a lovely day.

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    1. Hi Nancy - I think we all worried a lot when this first started, but here in Australia it's been very low key. Unless you were on a cruise ship or returning from overseas, the chances of contracting coronavirus seemed to be negligible. We've done all the right things with lockdown and social distancing, and smiled our way through it - but (like you) I'll be happy to catch up with friends and family again. We certainly missed our kids and grandgirls - and restrictions are lifting here, so the grandgirls are visiting atm - and after 3 months of missing them, it's just lovely!

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  11. Hi Leanne, Glad to hear you're content in retirement and lockdown. We all had to make adjustments to our daily routine since the global pandemic started. I'm thankful that my basic needs are met, that I can go for nature walks and have access to gazillions online arts and entertainment events from the comforts of home. #MLSTL

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    1. I feel that same sense of gratitude Natalie - we are so blessed with all that we have access to. Lockdown sounds so much worse than it actually is - with online resources and external walks and other distractions it's been pretty pleasant for the majority of the time hasn't it?

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  12. I can totally see how retirement has prepared you for lockdown. It also depends on personality too I think. Some people need to be on the go all the time and get restless. I'm basically retired also and happen to be a introverted homebody so lockdown is ok for me. I do miss meeting friends now and then for coffee or lunch but I'm not pacing. I'm happy to potter at home. Staying healthy is my priority! Hope you get to see those grandkids again before too long. xo

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    1. Hi Min - personality definitely comes into play - and also whether you're a glass half full person or not. I chose to look for the positives (although occasionally it got to me and I had to give myself a strong talking to!) The fact that Australia wasn't hit too hard has also been a blessing.

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  13. Hi Leanne, I have been enjoying lockdown because I love the peace and quiet and slower pace. People have had more time on their hands so they're reaching out more via messaging or phone. Even work is quiet as we prepared for an influx of patients with Covid-19 by cancelling most surgeries. There haven't been the high number of cases in Queensland so our hospitals are quiet.

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    1. It's been the same in WA Christina - things turned out to be much less intense than expected or planned for. It's a relief that we've all gotten off so easily - and it's great to see the restrictions being slowly lifted. I'll be happy to have a coffee with friends again and seeing the family is a joy - lets hope the 2nd wave doesn't happen because I'd hate to go back to all the fear and panic a second time! Stay well x

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  14. I remember when the lockdown (so called, it was never really named this in NSW) started and I said to my husband what I was going to miss because part of my mental wellness routine was going out each day for a coffee. He replied his days were not going to change much at all. That in a nutshell is the difference of our personalities: me extrovert and him much less so! Anyway we did manage and have managed but I sure did not mind when I could go to the shops to get a takeaway coffee and then, last Friday one in the shop!! Thanks for your link up Leanne. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Hi Denyse - yes extraverts and intraverts (and glass half empty/full) people reacted differently to being told to stay home. Despite that, I think a lot of us enjoyed the change of pace and the excuse to step back from all our commitments and take a breather. I'll be thinking very carefully about what I choose to take back on when this is all over - I think my life will be even quieter than what it was before.

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  15. Luckily, I'm a bit of an introvert otherwise I'd be going stir crazy. As it is, I do need to get out every day...I just don't need big gatherings, etc. Besides, I'm still working, from home yes, but still working.

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    1. I think being able to get out for a walk or to go get the groceries - or even to take a stroll along the beach etc has been a lifesaver for most of us Jennifer. It also helps if you like the person you're shut in with all day!

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  16. Hi Leanne, You remind me of a phrase that has recently been surfacing ‘we have been preparing our entire lives for this moment.’ Some of our life skills when dealing with stress. And how you describe well, recently in retirement, setting ourselves up to be able to cope with the changes of lockdown and sheltering at home.

    Big yes, on the quiet house in the morning. And yes, on how some of the minor, basic parts of our day are “priceless.” And yes, “a peaceful and serene life.” I am nodding my head to all of the points you make really well.

    Sometimes I have a tinge of guilt for liking all of this home time and puttering on my projects. Your post makes me feel better when I realize I am not alone. Thank you for a great and timely post. xx #MLSTL and sharing SM

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    1. Hi Erica - I feel a bit guilty about it at times too when I remember how hard some people are doing it. I feel very blessed to be in a position where I don't have to worry about losing my job, and to live in a country where they've been so diligent in keeping COVID at bay. Being asked to slow down and stay home has been very easy to comply with - and even easier now that they're easing up on some of the restictions and I'm getting to see my family again - YAY!

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    2. I am VERY happy you will be able to see your family again! xx

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  17. Leanne, I like the peaceful existence of retirement as well; however, I hate being told what I can't do, a character flaw in this current scenario that has taken me far in other areas of my life! It has forced me to just "be" for a while which is a good thing as it's forced me to be more patient. I am glad to be retired early as well. Thank you for this article! Rita

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    1. Hi Rita - I'm not good at being told what to do either - especially when it seems to be a bit of overkill. But I'm willing to trust the powers that be and to do my part by staying home and waiting for this to be over. The sooner the better though!

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  18. "I second that emotion." (It's from a song somewhere). But I agree. Although I am working part time, and COVID-19 has made me increase my hours, it is increased hours that are worked from home. Having to stay home is like getting permission to do what you really want to do, while still working. My fun/free time is been blogging and reading bloggers. While doing my best to fulfill my duties to the flock, I have been able to do that from the comfort of my office. Although I want to continue for a while, the experience has moved me to contemplate real retirement in the coming year.

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    1. Hi Michele - I would have kept going longer in my job if I could have found a way around the difficult person I was dealing with. It forced my hand and made me leave several years sooner than planned - but now I'm SO grateful. I love the peace and the simplicity of a life lived quietly and wouldn't have found that if I'd still been working.

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  19. Yes, we're the lucky ones, Leanne. Although we haven't retired, my husband and I lead fairly unbusy lives. He works from home and I've rented out a room in our housing complex that is 5 minutes away from our house. A setback in my health last year, made me resolve to focus on self-care a lot more this year! And the lockdown just became an extension of that.
    Glad you've been able to meet your family again.

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    1. Hi Corinne - you're very fortunate to be working so close to home. My husband works from home, and I think that would be the key to working for me. I got so tired of the commute to work (and it wasn't a really hard one - just tedious and repetitive) and I know that many are enjoying not having to drive to and from the city every day while they're working from home.

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  20. Your words are so true Leanne and I totally get it! Great news about seeing your family again, I can just imagine the joy! We get a visit this weekend and I'm so excited!!!

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    1. I thought it would be on the weekend for us Deb - but they decided to come down here instead and take a couple of days of work - needless to say, I was rapt! You're going to be in heaven when it's your turn.

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