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  • Larry Gard

Pandemic Triple Threat?

If you’re a late-career professional trying to figure out retirement, this pandemic poses a triple threat. You’re contending with the potentially greater risk of medical complications, it can be hard to explore popular post-work activities right now (such as volunteer roles and travel), and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen with the stock market.

The decisions surrounding retirement may feel more fraught because the future is so uncertain. There’s no telling what trajectory this pandemic may take. Should you pull the pin and retire now or wait to see if the economy picks up? Should you sell your business or try to keep it afloat? If you do retire, what can you do to occupy your time that will feel meaningful? These questions have always been part of the retirement decision, but they take on added complexity in light of Covid-19.

You may find it helpful to think back to other times of great uncertainty in your life. What resources did you draw upon then to help you find your way? What lessons did you learn about yourself that you can apply now?

The task of finding worthwhile activities to pursue may feel challenging now that most everything has shifted to the virtual, online world. The number and variety of offerings can seem overwhelming, and for many of us the thought of staring at a screen all day is unappealing.

When it comes to searching for meaningful pastimes, some readers may feel comfortable allowing themselves to get lost on the internet, visiting sites and clicking on links with the same zest they had for exploring side streets and small shops.

However, if your goal is to identify some primary areas that you intend to pursue in retirement, I recommend you start by curating a selection of topics; you can revise it as necessary. List five areas of interest (or things you’ve always wondered about) such as muscle cars from the 1960’s, cultivating roses, Italian cooking, small town living, and bicycle repair. Each weekday allow yourself to explore one of the five topics for 45-minutes or so. Even if you find yourself feeling bored or bewildered, revisit the topic again the following week (it’s possible that something was bothering you that day or the sites you selected weren’t well conceived).

After two weeks, keep two topics to continue exploring and identify new choices to replace the three topics that didn’t strike you as particularly compelling. Repeat this winnowing process again every two weeks. By the end of two months, you will have likely found one or two topics that truly interest you and are worthy of further exploration.

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