Retirement Redesigned

Our online course is live! See the menu for details.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeCoronavirus / Covid-19At Home and Alone but not Lonely

At Home and Alone but not Lonely

Suddenly and without much warning, we have to think about a radically changed lifestyle.

As the concerns about the Coronavirus spread out, more of us duly concerned folks have been staying home. Weekends used to be a treat and a relief from workdays at the office. All of a sudden, the pleasure we usually had from weekends, appears like an endless stretch of working and being home-based.

Even traditional weekends were punctuated by social meetings, going to the movies or sport, and in the gaps some relaxed time to shop or do household chores. During the holidays we were always planning the next activity and having a great time getting around.

But a home-based life needn’t be an isolated one, and there are vital ways in which it can mimic our pre-virus lives. Good advice is given by relationship coach Jordan Craig, who responds to the points made by Kei Hysi who says that loneliness almost always stems from a sense of disappointment. This feeling comes from expectations not being met. These expectations are about not being recognised or loved as you hoped and feeling let down by life. Craig says the first thing to do is to learn to love yourself and to give to yourself what you hoped you would get from others.

He says try to imagine that you find yourself in charge of a small four-or five- year old child. Think of how you would want to protect and care for him or her. That same gentleness and need to cherish them must guide you to treat your own heart in the same tender way. In our normal rushed lives, forever charging from achieving one goal to the next one, we have often neglected our own feelings and have focused relentlessly on perceived criticism from others or made a meal of self-criticism. Instead, we need to be kinder to ourselves.

There are several ways we can set up the life that will be more rewarding and less lonely and self-critical:

  • Jordan Craig says we must avoid the couch-potato syndrome. Move more often. It gives the body better circulation and the feel-good hormone that we all need to stay on top.
  • Care more about nutrition. We are often inclined to fall back on junk-food when we are hassled and in a hurry. There is much ‘junk food’ we feed our minds by watching the news all the time. Craig says, stop watching reality TV, and stop following people that spread negative thoughts and stories.
  • He also says we should be more intentional about what we do and how we spend our time—plan to relax and re-charge more.
  • Most important – as outlined in an article by Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch – a critical key to happiness is staying connected to your relationships with family, friends, especially your spouse, your children and any other significant people in your life. Stay connected.
  • Finally, Craig says keep and maintain a “Recognition List” where you record your daily, weekly and monthly achievements. Even the small ones. This list aids in preventing you from focusing, as one habitually does, on your perceived negatives. 
  • Making a habit of self-recognition and approval, helps us avoid the trap of looking to others for recognition which can lead to disappointment.

So how will we spend our time at home alone? Already sharp booksellers and clever marketing companies are suggesting good reading lists and subjects for Audible and Kindle. The various craft industries are going to boom and home-based skills like carpentry woodwork, and gardening will see explosive growth. 

In Italy, we’ve seen people singing from their balconies – sometimes in co-ordinated groups. Social contact happening from a distance with people facing outside from apartments in the same blocks. We realise that people need not be close to each other to communicate. The vitality of the human spirit wins out in the end.

These are all mostly new responses to a devastating situation. But there are also ways that established processes and principles can be adapted for the time. Creating the structures and routines of daily activity are ways in which the rhythm of life can find its natural order. Old social habits, like visiting friends and family, can be replaced by video calls. Conference calling is now a well-established business development method. But it is becoming a good way for families forced to live apart to have regular ‘visits’. South Africans with relatives in the UK or Australia or the USA or Canada have already adapted to these electronic methods of staying connected. Now we can do the same for people even living nearby, but with whom face to face communication is no longer possible.

Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.