Have you ever been to a personal growth or professional development workshop and realized that although you enjoyed it at the time, you didn’t really take in many of the things you learned in the long-term? It may have felt like it was making an impact while you were in the workshop, but a few weeks or months down the road, it’s likely that you didn’t end up retaining as much as you hoped you would. This is a very common phenomenon that likely occurred for one of two reasons; either you didn’t integrate the information in to your life very thoroughly at the time of the workshop or there was no mechanism for continuing to strengthen any new muscles that were formed. I call this workshop erosion, because any new insights, tools or skills tend to slowly fade away as the days and weeks go by, despite best intentions.
There are a couple of things that you can do to minimize the chance the workshop erosion will happen to you. After all, if you’ve invested time and money in to attending a workshop, you want to feel that it was worth your while.
- Choose workshops that are very experiential. You are more likely to retain what you learn if you get the chance to practice during the workshop itself.
- Choose workshops that are designed to be interactive. It’s unlikely that you will have good retention if you’ve just been talked at for 2-3 days.
- Plan a way to keep the conversation going. Ask other participants to form a discussion group or find other ways to continue reinforcing what you’ve just learned.
- Work with a coach to integrate your new skills and tools in to your daily life.
One of the most beneficial things about coaching is that you have the opportunity to remove yourself once a week from all distractions and just focus on where you are now and where you want to go next. Although, strictly speaking, you are not accountable to your coach, just knowing that you’ll soon be reporting on your progress helps you to stay accountable to yourself. Your coach will also help you to deal with any obstacles to internalizing new insights or skills. Not only is the structure ideal for solidifying new tools, the personalized attention means that you are able to discover what works best for you. If you really want to get the most out of your next personal or professional workshop, hire a professional life coach to assist you to fully integrate any new learning thoroughly in to your life.