Brain games

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.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.