Coming out of lockdown may be the hardest bit. Have we changed more than we realised in the last 12 months? Will we be ambushed by unnoticed changes that have happened to our behaviour, our values and our economy?
It is widely recognised that people who have endured enforced behaviour - such as prisoners and soldiers - can experience great difficulty when trying to reintegrate into 'normal' society.
At one extreme, evidence about the US prison system shows that, after release from confinement, prisoners are generally sicker and experience the effects of ageing more rapidly than the rest of the population.
Similarly, armed services now universally recognise the need to prepare soldiers for reintegration into civilian life. Sometimes the result is called 'culture shock', which can contribute to mental health issues without adequate preparation for the transition.
Less dramatically, but much more commonly, returning to work after maternity leave is widely recognised as a most challenging time. In the UK, a large survey of mostly senior, well-educated women found that more than 80pc were unhappy and lacked confidence about returning to work.
Psychologists refer to it as 'institutionalisation' when confined individuals, deprived of prior independence, begin to become more prone to mental health problems.
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, one of the characters, 'Red', says: "These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Nuff time passes, you get so you depend on 'em. That's institutionalised."
We may complain, a lot, about being confined, but have we, unwittingly, become dependent on the new arrangements? Have we already changed the expectations of our loved ones, our families (and our pets)? How will we unwind our newly domesticated patterns of work and travel? How will we ever fit in the loss of an hour for travelling to work everyday - never mind resuming the mad rush to drive kids to school, sports and friends?
Recognition, acceptance and action are the key to resolving these problems, so perhaps as a society we should start to recognise and accept the very real possibility that we may all have become changed by our Covid confinement.
Could coming out of lockdown be harder than most people imagine? What can we do to protect ourselves? Perhaps the biggest difficulty will not be traffic or money. Perhaps the challenges will be psychological and social. How will our confidence have been affected? What will be socially acceptable in this new world?
So, what changes will threaten our new lack of confidence? At a human level, who will be the first person to call an in-person meeting in a world of Zoom? How will we dress after 12 months of speaking to our colleagues wearing T-shirts? Will wearing a suit appear to be an act of intimidation? Who will tolerate a three-hour return trip for a 40-minute meeting?
Has anybody noticed that we already have a new workforce - with new behaviour and new expectations? Or two workforces, to be precise.
One workforce, who were often less noticed or valued, are those who must turn up to make stuff, drive stuff, mind people and provide skills and services in-person. This is the economy that pays for and cares for everyone. Many of these have been the 'front-line' workers - not just in our health services, but also providing transport, staffing food shops, running water and power plants as essential services. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this large part of the population needs to live near where they work.
Then there is the other workforce - sometimes smugly called 'white-collar workers'. They are most likely to count themselves lucky to be able work from home. This group are the subject of most of the imagining about a 'new economy'. It is they who are imagined as living in smaller settlements, pursuing quality-of-life goals involving family, nature, social activities, more learning as well as squeezing more meaning out of a life without a commute.
Another view is that these white-collar workers could be a threatened, if not endangered species. If they can work from a home in Glenageary, Galway or Gweedore - why couldn't they just as easily work from Germany or the Grand Bahama?
Problems begin when you add Guangdong to that list. The population of that Chinese province is over 110 million, made up of hard-working and well-educated people who only earn €13,000 per annum on average. This province alone is an advanced economy with GDP of $1.66 trillion a year. It already has enough vacant engineering jobs [14,000] to absorb every Irish engineering graduate for the next four years.
Our engineers as well as our engineering graduates will increasingly be drawn overseas. White-collar jobs can move offshore very easily, and they will. Labour force availability, costs and mobility are one of the world's great economic engines. It is about to change gear in a way that will change the world.
So, like Rip Van Winkle, we will find ourselves reawakening to find our world changed at every level from our local neighbourhood, our local shops, our places of work and the places where work is. In awakening, we, too, will be changed. We will be anxious, lacking in confidence and accustomed to living in a country where the government is making life easier, while making choices for us.
Change is only a problem when we fail to plan for it. Many of the fundamental assumptions that underpin our planning of finances, infrastructure and settlement need to be ready to change in directions that are not yet clear. What is clear is that sticking rigidly to old plans is a recipe for disaster in this world of changes that are without precedent in the modern world. It would be wise to hope for the best, while planning for the worst. A question that remains is whether and how we will choose to change ourselves in response to these changes. We are defined by our choices, not our challenges.
Five hundred years ago, Machiavelli said: "This is the tragedy of man. Circumstances change, but he does not."