Aerial view of desk with laptop and clipboard
Many of the lockdown problems will come up again in retirement

If self-isolation is a rehearsal for retirement, how ready are you?

One of the reasons most people are reluctant to think about, let alone prepare for, retirement is because most of us have no foresight of what it will be like. Until now! Our experiences in this period have shown that self-isolation is a rehearsal for retirement

When you are in the middle of your career all you think of are deadlines and targets, promotions and career paths. It is extremely difficult to try and picture a time when it won’t be like this. Let’s face it, when you end the day having to carry work home the thought that one day there will be no work is far-fetched. With the advent of restrictions introduced in light of the worldwide Covid-19 crisis, we are getting an early glimpse into what retirement may actually be like. And for most of us it is not pretty. Many of the conditions under which we are battling now are a dress rehearsal for life after work.

Lack of Regular Income

During this period of uncertainty many of us face the very real risk of irregular income. The lack of conducive business environment has attacked most corporations’ bottom lines. With no customers to pass this onto, the burden has had to be borne by the work staff. Countless employees have been asked to stay home with no guarantees that they shall receive their monthly pay check. And even those that are deemed essential staff do not have any cast iron assurances of a salary due to severe cash flow problems.

Many retirees will attest that one of the biggest adjustments they need to make after work is the sudden loss of an income they can count on. This uncertainty impacts every aspect of the life they had become used to. Various business ventures they may enter into are subject to the same market uncertainties as we are currently facing.

Reduced Social Interaction

Beyond the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis are the social ramifications. Granted, self-isolation and social distancing are neither enforced nor carried out to the same extent during retirement. But there are many days when it may as well be the same.

Many of us have close friends through work. Whether it’s getting a ride to the office with Chisola who works in the same block, or catching a drink with Chinyemba from accounts after work much of our social interaction is connected to work. With nothing much to do, and often no money with which to do it, reduced social interaction is all the more difficult. This is a sneak peek into retirement where we no longer interact with many of the friends we made along our careers.

Increased Time

It is funny that increased time is one of the most prominent complaints a number of retirees have about life after work. Mainly due to biggest gripe many of us have now is the lack of time. This is what makes the concept of retirement so difficult for many to grasp. However, another way in which self-isolation is a rehearsal for retirement is that many who have had to restrict their movements have seen that the day actually does have enough hours. And not all of them pass by as fast as when you have a deadline to meet. A life of no friends and no work opens up a world to an abundance of time that seems to defy the very laws of physics that govern chronology.


Those with a degree of foresight began stocking up on supplies the moment Covid-19 crossed its first international border. However, a large number were left scrambling for essentials in the midst of low stock and high prices. And many of those, even after there had been an inevitability of Covid-19 reaching our country for weeks. For various reasons we failed to equip ourselves for something we knew was coming. Whether due to procrastination or just poor preparation too many people were ill equipped for this period.

The sad fact is for large numbers, retirement is no different. It is an inevitability for us all yet we still fail to prepare for it. The similarities between retirement and this self-isolation period are stark. This can be considered a dress rehearsal to the main event.

What Next?

How does one prepare? For self-isolation? Explore the limits of your financial and social creativity and you will be able to get through the next few weeks or months. For retirement however, there is probably still time. Now that we see how self-isolation is a rehearsal for retirement reach out to a pension manager today and ask what options are available for you.