In June of this year, it will be 40 years since I graduated from college. It’s been at least that long since I’ve taken an exam other than for my driver’s license. I decided to become a Certified Senior Advisor to further expand my knowledge as a retirement readiness coach and speaker. The process was quite a journey.
I knew I had a good understanding of issues facing baby boomers preparing for retirement as a result of personal experience and researching my book, Your Countdown to Retirement. But my knowledge of issues for those in old, middle-old, and oldest-old stages of life was less complete. “This will be good for me personally and professionally,” I told myself as I signed up to begin the process.
I was an above average student in college. But three things surprised me as I began this course of study: 1) the way my brain now processes information, 2) how my learning style has changed since I was in my 20’s and 3) my incredible self-doubt about successfully learning the information and passing a certification exam.
I began reading the more than 1,000 pages of information and immediately went into a state of overwhelm. “How am I ever going to get through all this?” I asked myself. Fortunately, I have decades of experience overseeing difficult and complex projects and know that the they must be broken down into manageable tasks and sub-tasks. That’s how I approached reading, digesting, and remembering the material.
But managing my self-talk and mindset was another matter. For the first time in my life, I realized that my attitudes towards age contributed to my doubt. It took a disciplined effort to overcome the “You’re kidding yourself if you think you can do this” and the “I just don’t’ remember things as well as I used to” thoughts that plagued me.
But my maturity served me well. Rather than rushing through the exam today, I slowed down, read and re-read the questions, searching for context and making sure I truly understood what was being asked. I also trusted my intuition when I was unsure which answer was correct.
All of my hard work paid off. I passed. I can now use my new found knowledge as a Certified Senior Advisor to help fellow baby boomers in a number of areas. More importantly, I know from my experience that you’re never too old to try to accomplish something that seems out of reach.