Far below the concerns we’re all feeling for our nation’s health care system, the millions of unemployed workers, and the strength of our economy, there’s a growing list of smaller ways that Covid-19 has negatively affected our lives. I sure wish I could be tuning into Royals games right now, but will there even be baseball this year? Is the NBA going to finish its season? Will we be enjoying blockbuster movies in June? What’s summer going to be like if kids are stuck at home with working parents? Are married couples learning to spend all day together or are we headed for a divorce spike? Will we ever bring groceries home again without wiping down every box?
Social media and cable news tend to amplify the negative. So today I’d like to try an experiment in positivity. Here are 5 ways that I think the experience of living with social distancing and banding together to “flatten the curve” will improve our world once we’re past Covid-19.
1. Stronger family bonds
I’ve really enjoyed video calls with my extended family and friends. Some folks I’m used to seeing once or twice a year I’m now seeing online a couple times a week. We are even hearing reports of grandkids talking to their grandparents now more than before the crisis.
And it’s got me wondering … Why didn’t I make those calls more often before social distancing started?
Why didn’t I make a little more effort to grab a cup of coffee with friends?
I think a lot of folks are probably feeling the same way. I wouldn’t be surprised if weekly “fam jam” video calls become part of our regular routines, especially if we have family spread out across the globe. And I’m hopeful that folks will take the time to make those extra visits to loved ones once we’re out and about again.
2. Gratitude for our freedoms
One reason that social distancing has been so hard is …
How can I put this delicately …
I’m realizing I’m spoiled rotten! Our country is far from perfect, but we’re still the freest, most prosperous, most productive place on the planet. We’ve organized our government and our way of life around the idea that people should be free to do what they want, when they want, how they want. Covid-19 has made it hard to live that life. We can’t come together to celebrate, cheer, pray, vote, learn, and be entertained. We can’t take our long-planned vacations. We can’t eat dinner with friends at our favorite restaurants. We have to keep six feet away from our parents and grandparents.
There are many countries in the world where even more severe public restrictions are the norm. If we get through Covid-19 in time for 4th of July barbecues and fireworks, I think we’re all going to feel a greater appreciation for what we’re really celebrating.
3. Greater awareness of personal hygiene
You’re probably scrubbing your hands more than usual and being more conscientious about washing towels, dish rags, and dirty clothes.
Which, of course, are things we should have been doing before Covid-19 and should keep doing after it! We might also be headed towards a major fashion and culture change. Outside of China, the Asian Covid-19 spread has been relatively manageable. In part, that’s because wearing face masks in public entered Asian culture after the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Right now, our focus has to be on getting medical professionals as many masks as they need. But the president and the CDC are recommending cloth face coverings for the general public as well, which could become a regular feature of life during annual cold and flu season.
That might feel a little strange at first. And I know some parents are worried that Covid-19 is raising a generation of germaphobes. But I think an increased awareness of how our basic hygiene affects others is going to make for a healthier society, especially as more and more seniors start living well into their 90s.
4. More efficient use of technology
Millions of people who had never made a video call before are now pro Zoomers and Skypers. They’ve also discovered that if you swipe past social media, the internet can be an inspiring and informative place. My family and friends have sent around so many amazing links to free classes, online museums, informative articles, and other content that’s been both enriching and entertaining.
Outside the home, how we’ve adapted to social distancing might change business and education forever. As folks become more comfortable with video meetings and find ways to maximize these virtual interactions, we might spend less time in cars and planes and more time clicking our way across the country.
I think the next wave of retirees is going to feel much more confident about their tech skills as well. Once they’ve mastered video chat, locked down seniors will move on to things like e-learning, borrowing digital books from libraries, and virtual group entertainment. That’s going to lead to a more connected group of seniors who will follow their curiosity out into the wider world.
5. Improved financial perspective
You’ve heard me say it a hundred times: control the controllable and have a plan. Covid-19 is a sobering example of why that’s so important to us at Keen Wealth.
No one could have predicted that we’d head into an election year dealing with a pandemic that disrupted global infrastructure and rattled financial markets and the economy, both of which were in very good shape. But a good financial plan is built to cope with the unexpected. Folks who have the benefit of a diversified asset pool, cash reserves, and a plan that’s centered on their life are probably gaining an appreciation for how that planning will get them through this crisis. And I think once life and the markets regain some normalcy, folks are going to have a better perspective on managing short-term volatility and meeting long-term financial goals.
Hopefully, that broader view leads more people to work with a fiduciary advisor on a plan that will improve their finances and their lives.
But the best time to start that process isn’t after Covid-19. It’s right now. Our physical offices might be closed, but my Keen Wealth team is online fulltime and ready to help no matter where you’re locked down and no matter where you are on your financial journey.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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