14 Mar 2024
by Alicja Tokarska MITI

Falling in love again

If you're feeling a little jaded in your relationship with CPD there are ways to rekindle the spark, as Alicja Tokarska explains.

Each year, I go well over the number of CPD hours that ITI recommends to its members. In fact, in 2022/2023 I ended up logging more than 215 hours. As the Polish Network’s events coordinator, I spend a lot of time planning and delivering the network’s activities, which include a film club and a book club – on top of monthly webinars and peer-learning sessions. Apart from that, I attend webinars and courses relevant to my career organised by ITI and other  organisations. I also listen to a huge number of podcasts (I don’t log these, even when they are actually business podcasts).

Lost that loving feeling

Around April 2023 I realised that, whenever new episodes of my followed podcasts appeared on my Spotify, I’d consciously skip all the business-related titles. I’d still add them to my saved episodes, but every time I was faced with the decision to choose one, I’d dread the idea of listening to my once beloved translation-related content. But Polish podcasts about true crime or comedy ones on Poland in the 90s? Sign me up!

So it wasn’t the podcasts themselves, just the content. And that wasn’t the only form of CPD I was avoiding: I noticed my webinar attendance had started to drop and that the pile of business- related books on my bedside table was left untouched for months. This was incredibly confusing for me, especially given that according to the VIA Institute on Character my top strength is ‘love for learning’. To quote the test results, I have a ‘passion for learning for its own sake’.

It’s true – I love to learn! After I finished academic study at university, I embarked on evening courses: French, Spanish and Norwegian classes (still going strong with that last one!) and classes on sewing and patchworking too. So when I found that my interest in learning, especially work-related learning, had started to drop, I didn’t feel like myself any more. And then it hit me: I’d over-CPDed myself.

Woman reading book

We’ve all heard of burnout but, believe me, you can also get a CPD burnout. My first reaction to this realisation was panic (‘Will I ever feel like developing my skills again?!’) and guilt (‘You’re not interested in growing your skill set. How can you even call yourself a professional translator?!’). And then something else popped into my head: ‘But I am developing my skills! I am growing my skill set! It’s just that now I don’t feel like getting involved in a lot of structured sessions with clear learning outcomes. I feel like watching my favourite show on Netflix (with subtitles on), reading that incredibly good Polish novel, and marvelling over the fashion creations from last season’s Great British Sewing Bee contestants. And that’s OK.’

Taking  a break from formal CPD

If you love learning but are at a stage when the thought of working on your search engine optimisation (SEO), opening a marketing book, or sitting through a two- hour webinar on [insert your preferred specialisation] feels like torture, just let it be.

Maybe lately you’ve done so much training that you feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve been stressing over some aspects in your private life, so your focus is not as sharp as it usually is. Or maybe you’re simply lacking motivation and are tired of being the always- switched-on business person who’s ready to network and grow.

We all go through seasons in life, and that includes our professional lives. The fact you are currently logging fewer CPD hours doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped learning. That show I recently binge-watched helped me pick up a few really interesting subtitling strategies. That novel I read was an opportunity to work on my target language skills. Those hours spent cheering for amateur sewers came in handy during a recent fashion-related project (and motivated me to pick up my sewing machine again).

After a short period of panic and self-consciousness (an events coordinator who’s dreading CPD? Come on!) I allowed myself to take a little breather from structured CPD formats. I moved the massive pile of business books back to the living room shelf. I still attended webinars that really interested me, but I was incredibly selective when it came to signing up for them. I didn’t have a clear plan of how long I’d let this go on for – there’s no ‘Time to CPD again!’ in my Asana software. I just let myself forget about CPD for a while…

Back together again

And then one September day I opened my Spotify in search of something to listen to. It surprised even me, but I opted for an episode of Melanie Padgett Powers’s Deliberate Freelancer. It had the gloriously fitting title ‘I’m back! Time to get my act together’. In fact, it turned out that over the summer the host had gone through a similar phase (in her case to do with marketing). Hearing a successful business owner allowing herself to feel lazy and slack off in an area she usually pays attention to made me feel miles better about my personal CPD crisis. And ever since that podcast listening session, my CPD optimism has been slowly returning to its normal levels.

If you’re going through a similar phase, show yourself some compassion. Try to understand why you’re feeling like this, allow yourself to take a breather and opt for a more relaxed, fun way of learning (but don’t treat it like CPD, or it might turn into a chore!).

It’s possible you’ve been doing too much formalised CPD and/or opting for topics that are ill-fitted to your current mood (maybe rather than focusing on building your website you should spend time learning how to create a marketing plan?). Perhaps changing the format (for example trying a self-paced short course online rather than a weekly in-person class) would be enough for you to fall in love with CPD once more. Stop thinking that you ‘must’ or ‘need to’ attend a specific webinar – after all, if this year you’re still logging CPD hours but slightly fewer than last year, the world won’t end.