The FPA Annual Conference offers attendees rich ideas and experiences, but this wealth of content can be difficult to implement once you return to the office. To maximize your #FPAConf18 return on investment, turn your conference experience into a treasure hunt.

During each session, gather the following assets:

Ideas: What are the three most important concepts from each session? Your brain is not likely to remember more, so highlight the most compelling ideas, insights, inspirations or stories. Connect these ideas to your own schemas, especially if they contrast with your current thinking. You will remember new information better when you actively engage with the ideas and link them to your existing mental content.

Resources: What tools does the speaker offer for implementation? Note any new systems, frameworks, processes, apps or software programs recommended by the speaker. How can you use these resources to put your new ideas into action? How can you integrate these new structures into your current systems?

Emotions: How do you feel after this session? Are you intrigued, unsettled, excited, overwhelmed, energized, bored, etc.? Emotion is like the brain’s highlighter – even an unpleasant experience, like feeling disrupted, can make ideas stickier. If you feel tired or drained, re-energize yourself before going to your next session by taking a quick brisk walk, drinking some water and/or eating a protein snack.

People: Who did you connect with during this session? Do you want to learn more from the speaker? Did the speaker mention other thought leaders you want to research? Did you connect with fellow attendees during or between sessions? How can you develop these relationships?

Your experience at #FPAConf18 will be most valuable to you, your customers and your company when you continue to engage with your new FPA ideas, resources, emotions and people once you return to the work. 

Action Steps: Identify the action steps you’ll take after leaving Chicago. What will you do to remember and further explore the key ideas? To utilize the resources and systems you learned? To harness the excitement and inspiration you felt? To cultivate the connections that began at FPA?

Conference Summary: To keep track of your treasures, make a chart before the conference starts with columns for each of these items (ideas, resources, emotions, people and actions) listed by session. Include rows for notes about rich between-session encounters. Make time during the session breaks to reflect and notate the last engagement. This table creates a big picture of your conference experience, takeaways and to-dos. Use your People notes to create your list of LinkedIn or email follow-ups.  Once you’re back in the office, you can rekindle the excitement you felt during the conference by reviewing your Emotions to propel you through the actions items from the Ideas and Resources sections. Prioritize your action items so you know exactly where to start.

Plan to Overcome Obstacles: The assets amassed during any conference are easily lost when the backlog of work hits upon your return. You’re likely to revert to business-as-usual unless you are proactive. Before leaving Chicago, review your to-do list and anticipate the barriers to implementation. Problem solve for these obstacles ahead of time. Break each item down into achievable micro-goals. Schedule these tasks into your calendar with specific dates and times for completion. Create reminders to stay on track. Ask a friend or colleague to be your accountability partner. Draw on the invigorating emotion from the conference to keep yourself inspired and committed to your new goals.

Don’t let what you learn in Chicago stay in Chicago. Transform your inspiration into implementation. Maximize this investment in your peak performance by effectively bringing the new ideas, resources, emotions and relationships back with you from Chicago and converting them into actionable formats to support your follow-through, thus making #FPAConf18 a breakthrough experience.

Margit Cox Henderson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author and speaker who empowers people to make sustainable health investments so that they thrive now and are set up for resilient retirement. Her upcoming book, Breakthrough to Action: Transforming Inspiration into Implementation, leads readers to lasting personal and professional behavior change.

Join Dr. Henderson at her FPA Annual Conference Breakout Session regarding the neurobiology of stress and resilience, Peak Performance and Executive Wellbeing: A Game Plan, held 5-6 pm on Thursday, October 4th.

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