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Yippee – I Passed!

This blog has been neglected in recent months because I have been studying for the CFP® Exam.

I started studying 4 ½ years ago, got halfway through the coursework, and pushed the pause button.  I was working a lot of hours and helping my husband update a home we bought in foreclosure.  Also, our children were younger.  The timing was off.

In August of 2018, I decided it was time to peel the bandage off and get it over with.  No more whining that it’s hard or that I don’t have time.  No more bemoaning that midlife brains absorb information more slowly or that reading big, thick textbooks can be mind-numbingly boring.

No more complaining that much of the content does not relate directly to my current role.  Much of the content does relate.  More importantly, the program teaches us how to think more comprehensively, more analytically.  It prepares us to respect and participate more fully in the financial planning process.

I have been studying in earnest since then.

The internal pressure of such a goal is intense.  For me, the stress was heightened because I knew I would be leaving the United States in a few months.

The exam is only offered 3 times per year:  March, July, and November.  Many bright, qualified professionals do not pass it the first time.  The coursework and the exam are really tough.

What if I fail the exam?

I called the testing provider to see if I could sit for the November exam in Spain if I do not pass in July.  I learned that there are testing centers in Madrid and Barcelona and the exam is in English.  Just in case, I had a back-up plan.

But yuck!  Who wants to study 24/7 for 90 days prior to an international relocation?  We will be busy figuring out a million other details.  This will not be a good time for focused study.

Also, if I’m in Barcelona, I want to feel the Mediterranean sand between my toes.  I want to blog about yummy tapas and gorgeous sunsets.

Finding a testing center, smiling for the security camera, and being fingerprinted in a secure facility isn’t quite what I have in mind.  Neither is sitting through a 6-hour exam for the second time.  I need to pass this sucker the first time!

I hunkered down and hit the books hard.  I have been at it for months.

On Sunday evening, July 14, I promised myself I would get to bed early.  It didn’t happen.  I was studying and time got away from me.

When I finally crawled into bed, there was a deep sense of fatigue and brokenness.  At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I confess that I prayed.  I asked for strength, for grace, for help.  In the quiet of the night with my husband sleeping beside me, a sense of comfort and peace washed over me.  Tears of gratitude spilled down my cheeks and soaked deep into my pillow.  Perhaps there really are angels that minister to us when we need it most.

I sat for the Exam here in Kansas City yesterday, on July 15.

My testing center experience was not the best.  There was a weird mildew smell in the room.  A fan was blowing for white noise or maybe to deal with the smell.  The computer screen flickered several times during the exam.  NO…do NOT lose my internet connection!

A rude employee almost threw me out because when I finished the exam, I stood up and stretched.  I was sternly threatened and admonished that I must remain seated at all times.

Then the screen went blank.  Blank?  What happened?  Where is my test score?  I was supposed to get immediate results and poof!  A blank screen?

Trembling, I stepped out to ask their Employee of the Year what had happened.  Is everything in good order?  Can she see my score?  She couldn’t, but she said the exam showed as complete.

She said I would be receiving an email.  Email?  I opened the storage locker, reached for my purse, and fumbled for my cell phone.  Within a minute, an email popped into my Gmail account.  I strained to read the fine print, then enlarged it.

Congratulations!

I started sobbing with relief.  A grown woman, 49 years old, crying in a testing center.

I stumbled out of there and with wobbly legs made it down the stairs somehow.  I wiped the tears away to make sure I had read the email correctly.  Then I called my husband.

Months of fatigue and stress evaporated.  I was flooded with relief, then joy, and profound gratitude.

The CFP® Board must still finish up the review process and approve the final test results, but hopefully, I will be “official” as a financial planner in a month.

Why have I done this if I know I am leaving?  Am I a masochist?

The truth is that I love working with clients.  I get to help people set and achieve awesome financial goals.  I am a part of the fabric of their lives and they are a part of mine.

I want to do good, competent planning work for those clients.  When I return from my sabbatical, I hope to continue doing this in some form or fashion.  Having the CFP® certification adds professional credibility to the other licenses and experience that I already have.

Who knows?  Maybe I will start my own firm when we get back.  Fifteen years in Corporate America have brought valuable training and experience.  I know what works and definitely, what doesn’t.

Yippee – I passed!  Thanks be to God.

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