Do I need it? Can I afford it? Will I use it? Is it worth it?

I’m sure plenty of you will quickly spot that those questions are the ‘Money Mantras’ of money saving expert Martin Lewis. It often strikes me that they work quite well when deciding which of the ever-growing multiple CPD and training opportunities to pursue.

It’s easy to feel pressure to sign up to as many courses as possible; courses that are well designed and marketed will trigger some degree of the feeling that you are short of some knowledge or skills, on top of which it is easy to have ‘that fear of missing out’ sensation. So we need to have some guiding principles and ask ourselves some key questions, or we are going to rack up costs as well as feeling an added burden of a bunch of courses that we haven’t got round to finishing or aren’t putting into action.

I would probably modify the first question to include a time element, such as ‘do I need this in the next month/six months/year’, which ties it to the ‘will I use it’ question. One decision I have made is that I will spend training budget on things that will enhance my day to day work with clients, such as conditions that I regularly encounter and need to learn more about, or skills that I utilise but believe I can deploy to greater effect. Lots of things that don’t fall into those two categories also interest me immensely, so I pursue those via free or very low-cost sources; it’s important to pursue things purely out of interest and curiosity.

In these blogs I am under no obligation to plug, but as an example, on TLC I am prioritising some conditions that clients regularly present with. I am also working through some business-related presentations, as like many of us I struggle to be interested in this essential aspect of being self-employed. During lockdown I started a strength and conditioning course which was my largest financial investment of the year, so with these three strands I have plenty to focus on at present. That doesn’t mean I don’t spot good things that I want to undertake in the future, but I have a framework that stops me getting into CPD overload.

Whatever you’re doing, as we’ll consider in future blogs, there are challenges in remembering what you have learned. You’ll need to plan how you revisit your learning and a crucial aspect of memory is putting things to use as soon as possible. At the start of the whole process, honest, professional self-evaluation is essential and the business of self-reflection will be the subject of a future blog.

Here’s my work-in-progress attempting to incorporate these considerations in a different format. I hope it offers you some assistance in plotting your way through the colossal volume of CPD that’s out there!

Keep learning,