The CSA Designation Is Not Just Business - It's Personal
The Education Road Map
Do you have educational and advanced professional degrees? I do. My high school diploma and good grades allowed me to officially apply to college. In college, I graduated with a teaching degree which made it possible for me to get my first job. My master’s degree gave me the right to earn $1000 more on the pay scale. When I transitioned into the insurance business, my designations (CLU, ChFC) helped me climb the corporate ladder. My financial planning degree (CFP®) gave me the credibility I needed when I joined an accounting firm as the Client Relationship Manager. I was quickly learning that each degree was my ticket to the next step.
Now don’t get me wrong. Everything I learned along the way was personally helpful and enabled me to serve students and clients well. I thought there was nothing else for me to learn. After all, I was almost an official senior and I don’t mean acquiring my AARP card!
Decades of Expectations
When you think about it – every decade has its expectations. When we are in high school we struggle with what we want to be when we grow up and we either continue with further education or get a job. If college is part of the plan, it’s all about choosing the right course of study so that we can get a job when we graduate and have our own apartment. In our 20’s, it’s about dating and perhaps making some permanent relationship decisions. Then it’s about having children and deciding if we really need a dog. As we reach our 40’s, a career change may be on the horizon because we need to make more money so that our kids can go to college. In our 50’s, we may begin seeing the doctor more often. As we round the corner to 60, we may be looking forward to retirement and our boss may be dropping subtle hints about “when” we might be thinking about moving to Florida.
In my case, I was not thinking about retirement. I loved my work and felt like I was 40. Then I was unexpectedly called upon to be a personal caregiver for a friend’s father. At the time, I was working full time for an accounting firm and for almost two years I helped out three nights a week. I had no time to pursue a degree in this responsibility. I used my instincts and learned on the job. I knew how to cook nutritious meals, was able to help with personal hygiene, could assist with dressing and medications and I provided my friend’s father with mental security just by being asleep in the next room. When he passed away at 99 ½, I still had not really related to the whole concept of “getting old.”
Career Change – Designation # 7
Then I made my final career change and became a Director of Griswold Home Care in New Castle County, Deleware – a non-medical home care company franchise that has been in business over 30 years. Almost immediately, I was looking for the designation that would give me some quick credibility in the industry since I was an unknown individual in the health and home care community. Honestly, I was not looking forward to receiving another large carton with books and study materials, but I knew that signing up for the CSA course work was the right thing to do and I was determined to successfully complete the work in six months.
I remember the first day I opened the book and reviewed the chapter titles. My first thought was that I had studied most of this material in my other course work so this should be relatively easy. That was comforting, but wrong! As is my nature, I sat down with a calendar, looked at the exam date and then working backwards, set up a detailed plan of study which would comfortably allow me to cover all chapters and leave one week for review. I also played the CDs I purchased every moment that I was in my car.
The morning of the exam I was really nervous. I wanted to pass this exam more than any I had ever taken. Why? Because from the first chapter, I was hooked. This was the most meaningful study material I had ever encountered and the corresponding CDs were riveting in their content and delivery. Once I passed, I found myself using all the information almost immediately and to this day, I still keep the textbook on my desk as a reference.
The course material inspired me to want to share what I had learned with those who were part of the “sandwich generation” and other seniors in the community. I set out on a mission to speak at senior centers, churches, interest clubs and libraries. My competitors were all talking about diseases. I wanted to talk about the practical and more enjoyable aspects of the senior journey. I wanted to take my textbook and have it come alive. By the end of 2014, I will present almost 50 talks to various groups and the discussions in my text book will provide the inspiration for all of my topics.
My AH HA Moment…
Six months after passing the exam, I started receiving mail from numerous insurance companies offering me Medicare prescription plans and Medigap policies. Initially, I was throwing them in the garbage. Then one day, all of a sudden, my CSA degree and my impending 65th birthday collided.
Yikes…..I was going to be 65 and now I was going to be an owner/partner in the business. I had reached the goal of having a stake in the ground to secure my future. This was actually scary since I was now all of a sudden worrying about my health. I had read about health concerns in the course material and had seen firsthand the challenges faced by seniors in my business, but now it was about me.
Then There Was Clarity – This Was About Me!
Everything I had learned in the CSA course material was certainly about providing better service and advice to my clients, but this course was about me. It was about my senior journey. It was about the challenges I would face and about the importance of understanding good senior health practices and resources. It was about what I needed to do to give me the best chance of having a successful senior journey.
So now I exercise every day. I speak to people of all ages including seniors as often as possible. My personal goal is to not only help them, but also enlarge my circle of friends and understanding.
It’s Not Just Business – It’s Personal
For me, completing the CSA coursework was unexpectedly personal – not just good information. This was my course on the senior journey. This was my playbook. I owned every word on every page. Now it was my responsibility to share myself with others. I was walking in their shoes. As a result, I am now a better advisor to my clients and their families who face the challenges of home care, a better teacher, a better listener and a better person – all because of my CSA designation.
Life is full of surprises, but the best one for me was finally finding the resource that would help me face the future decades of my life and enable me to share what I learned with other people in the community.
Anne Eidschun, CSA, CFP®, CLU, ChFC is a Partner/Owner of the Griswold Home Care office in New Castle County, Deleware. Email:firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: 302.456.9904