7 Ways to Choose Continuing Education

To become and stay a leader in your profession you need to continue to learn. With all the continue education opportunities available how do you choose?   Roger Takashashi, Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Vancouver Canucks and fellow Kinesiologist spoke at the 20th Anniversary of the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists in November.  The crowd was mainly undergraduate Kinesiology students, though there were a few veterans who came to hear him speak.  His session was a question and answer format.  A key point he made was that his degree in Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University was the foundation to his current career, knowledge and experience. 
A university degree is not the end of professional training. If we stick to one field we have about 30-40 years of work to accomplish before we retire. The world is changing fast and so is the  body of knowledge. Takahashi explained that he is able to connect what he learned in his course work to what he does on a daily basis with NHL players. It helps him fundamentally understand how each each exercise affects his clients physiology, state of recovery and biomechanics.  I can relate to this. He emphasized that to stay sharp, competitive and prepared we need to be continually be learning. 
The average amount per employee that is provided in Canada for education and training is around $650 and great companies spend about 3% of their budget on training.  I often hear that continuing education is an expense; instead think of it as an investment towards future earnings growth. Investing in continuing education over the last ten years has made a significant impact on my income and success of my business. Many professions also have a minimum number of continuing education credits needed per year to maintain their designation.

How to Choose Appropriate Continuing Education

There is a plethora of continuing education courses now for Kinesiology, rehabilitation and fitness and I am certain the same is true for other industries. How do we choose, especially when our budget can at times be small.

1. Make a Someday/Maybe List and a Must Take List

Remember many courses and conferences are offered annually or semi-annually.  What are some courses that would be nice to take and what courses are must takes?

2. Follow Your Passion

 Is there a stream or specialty of your profession that you are passionate about? Make courses in that stream the priority. For me it is musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and neuromuscular disorders.

3. Figure Out What is Missing

Is there a piece of knowledge that you are missing that would add value to your client interactions? Take those. I found a solution to unlocking clients lack of mobility in 2007.I  found Fascial Stretch Therapy.  A friend and excellent Kinesiologist, Paul Turner of Three Peaks Kinesiology and I looked at each other and said “we have to take this.” Three months later we were in Arizona for Level I.

4. Figure Out How You Learn

Kinesiology education has a hands and experiential quotient, however there are plenty of other ways to learn some of the theory.  Are you a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner? Most people are predominantly one, however they are also a mix.

5. Set an Education Budget, But Learn to Stretch It

If there is something you really want to attend figure out a legal and ethical way to make the additional cash to attend.

6. Will It Make an Impact? 

Will this new knowledge make an immediate impact on the way practice, run your business or add more value to client interactions? Pick the courses that you can experience immediate improvement in your practice. Sometimes the return takes a little bit of time. People will pay more when you add more value.

7. Find Free Stuff and Share with Others

 You don’t need to spend big bucks or travel the world. Though, travelling to out of town places is a great way to learn from some of the best directly and network with others. It easier to learn from your peers by connecting through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also, you can easily learn by sharing blog articles, researching online, listening to free podcasts and attending webinars all on your own schedule.
Oh, there is also the library (physical and electronic). You can now download pretty much most things to a mobile device, laptop or table to take anywhere you are. Industry journals will also have CECs quizzes for you to complete. When you find something really neat, share with your colleagues.

Seeking the Peak: Taking Time to Regenerate and Prevent Burn-Out

All right. We are closing in on the middle of week 3 of my training for “Seek the Peak” on July 4, 2010. The journey thus far has not been easy. I am still in recovery from my Olympic experience and am integrating back into a more regular work schedule.

Prior to the Olympics I was seeing clients six days a week, with little time to train or put into business development. This was meant to make up for the time I’d be away from clients during the two-week break for the Olympics. I also booked appointments from 10 AM to 4 PM on days between my shifts at Whistler Olympic Park.

This schedule was wearing me out and making me less motivated to attend to clients, my needs, the needs of my family and the needs of my business. It also put Lifemoves on something similar to a simmer, where we were content do things “as is” because it was working. This was opposite of the standards I put forward in my head.

A part of physical training that is often forgotten is regeneration. If you forget about recovery and taking breaks, you will end up burning out in business or over-training. Some of the symptoms are general malaise, lack of appetite and lack of motivation. Coming back on March 1, I felt that my time was in as high demand as it was in January. I had several new clients and not much time to get them integrated or to take care of our current clients.

Getting into a depressive state is something I am highly aware of, so I know when to use strategies to turn those moods around. After the excitement and energy burn of the Olympics, along with working 6-7 days per week, I found that I felt general malaise, I was unmotivated, I was paying less attention to detail and was not delivering what I was capable of. This required a big shift in scheduling and my use of energy. I now think more in terms of energy management rather than time management and I incorporate regeneration strategies.

I could feel myself slowly starting to slip into a possible depressive episode. I knew this had to change so, at the beginning of March, I set a goal of racing Seek the Peak in July. I altered my work schedule and took greater control of my sleep cycles.

Part of what I discovered and am now paying close attention to, is how much energy I have and the maximum work loads I can handle before I need a break. I am in control of my schedule and my commitments. I can say no as easily as I can say yes.

Moving forward from April, I am looking at the number of hours I work on a daily basis as well as my total during the week (In athletic training, this is called Total Volume). Carl Pederson, Physiotherapist, once said in a workshop to “incorporate recovery” every day; this includes physical, mental, emotional and nutritional recovery.

I started the past few weeks with physical recovery, e.g., stretching, light cardio and getting the proper amount of sleep. Tuesdays and Thursdays are long, full days with clients, so I train with light cardio, such as walking and stretching. The other five days of training are more intense and every four weeks I take a recovery week with less volume and less intensity. Every eight weeks I am also adding a massage.

This week, I am working on my nutritional recovery strategies which I will cover in another post. When considering emotional recovery, think about investing time in family and friends, reading a book or perhaps doing something spiritual. I am finding that doing something physical that I enjoy also connects me with my emotional recharging.

After each bout of training, I feel invigorated, happy and proud that I accomplished one more training session.

Remember, take time to add recovery to every day. Take breaks away from work, turn off your phone/Blackberry. Get off the grid for a little while. Have a nutritious, mindful snack. Manage and treat your body properly and it will perform at its peak.