As someone who has been in the field of education for a long time, let me tell you the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of a client achieving the outcomes we (and they) know are possible. It's not lack of skill or lack of will – it's the reality that's waiting for them back at the office.

I call it “Monday Morning Syndrome.” You go to a lecture or workshop over the weekend and you get genuinely excited about what you're learning and eager to see the difference it will make in the practice. I constantly get people telling me that they can't wait to come back because they love how energizing and rejuvenating it feels to be learning inspiring new things in an environment where they're surrounded by forward-thinking colleagues. And that's great.

But then Monday morning comes, and brings with it a full plate of appointments, obligations, and emerging crises that need your attention. Suddenly, the weekend and its excitement seems like a long time ago, and as the days wear on, the motivation to institute changes dissolves and it's back to business as usual.

I heard this expressed in a memorable way recently during a leaders' forum I was involved with. I met with a number of specialists who run Spear Study Clubs in advance of their workshop weekend with their respective groups. We were talking about this topic and one of the participants offered this great line:

“Education without action is just entertainment.”

That's a great point. If you're going to get full value from an educational experience (with us or with anyone else) you have to do one very simple, but usually overlooked, thing: create an action plan. Do it right away, while your energy is high, and make sure it answers these questions:

  • How will I keep myself accountable? Have a goal – a certain number of CEREC restorations, a certain hourly production – and a timeline. Measureable goals bring measurable results.
  • What resources will I need? Will this require new equipment? New training for the team? Supplemental online learning? If so, get the ball rolling right away.
  • How will I present this to the team? It doesn't need to take long – maybe a one-hour briefing on what you've learned – but it must be done and it must done right away. Without the team buying into your new approach, you'll lose steam quickly.

Being around like-minded people and getting excited and energized about your profession is a great reason to go to continuing education events – and you will always get something out of every experience. But taking the time to create a plan like this significantly increases your chances of keeping that excitement alive, and of optimizing the return on your educational investment.