Yes, We Can Continue Learning in our Twilight Years.

November 15, 2021

Yes, We Can Continue Learning in our Twilight Years.

May 29, 2023

I am 76 years old and am learning to speak French! It is something I could have easily put off one more time. But a session at the Modern Elder Academy convinced me you can learn new things at any age. Here is my story.

In December 2020, my wife and I spent two wonderful Sabbatical Sessions weeks at MEA. We arrived as a retired couple whose blessings were overflowing. We were not seeking solutions to a midlife crisis. We were there just to take in the sun, the beach, the wonderful food and enjoy meeting new people, making new friends, and sharing any wisdom with younger compadres if the opportunity came up. And of course, taking in the daily sessions on personal growth.

A few days into our stay, we attended a session on “Fixed vs Growth Mindset” that Chip facilitated. As we settled into our seats and the session got underway, the two frames of mind were explained. I confirmed that I’ve led a life full of Growth Mindset. Then Chip challenged the group to come up with an area of our lives where we might have a Fixed Mindset. I ran a quick inventory and concluded that I didn’t have a Fixed Mindset about anything. I was completely open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Or so I thought.

I was ready to report to the group that I wasn’t aware of any areas in my life where I felt an unshakable belief. Until …I realized I had resisted learning to speak French. I had tried in high school and in college and got nowhere. Later in life, I decided I was personally ill-qualified to learn French even though I had many reasons to…including three young grandchildren who live in Paris, who, of course, speak French AND English.

So what happened next? I had an epiphany...a Baja aha! I realized I did have a Fixed Mindset and I could change that. So I did.

Now, 9 months later, I am learning French every day online using Duolingo. I have not missed a single lesson since last December when I started. Now I see myself as someone who is learning to speak another language, because I am!

It has been hard. I have been encouraged and discouraged. I have earned hundreds of Duolingo points and been rewarded for my effort. I also have missed the mark and made the same mistakes over and over but I am making progress and soon I will be reading storybooks to our grandchildren in French, instead of English.

If you have something stuck in the back of your mind that you feel you can never achieve, dust it off and look at it with fresh eyes.

You can do it.

I did.

Michael Campbell is a former professional race car driver and sports marketing executive who retired in 2013 and now is a full-time traveler with his wife Debbie. They are known as the Senior Nomads.

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