Are You Addicted to Training?

Do you always have a course on the go?

Do you regularly have more than one on the go at the same time?

Are you always searching FutureLearn or Coursera for your next fix?

You may be addicted to training.


oooh a new course!


Now, this is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but it’s something I’ve wondered for a while. Can you be addicted to training?

Since I left Uni waaaaaay back when, I think that for only about three of those years, when my daughter was little, I haven’t been undertaking some form of training. I’ve taken courses for work and courses for fun, but they’ve all helped my work because I actually find it fun. I work on projects and subjects that interest me, and even those courses that weren’t for work have ended up having some use.

I took genealogy, palaeography and archaeology courses through distance learning and classroom-based learning when I worked in the University, and they helped me forge a freelance career when I left, even though I originally took them because they interested me.


table of books


I’ve taken feltmaking, book making, basket weaving, glassmaking, digital fractal artwork and drystone walling classes, to name a few. All hands-on, fun and informative.

My sign language classes were great, and one of the reasons I took them was to be able to talk to a student at the Uni … I passed, but she left, I had no one to talk to so that was a bit of a loss. I really need to re-do that one as I’ve forgotten everything.

But it’s not just fun. I’ve taken numerous work-based courses, all with the intention of helping me either learn new stuff or enhance my knowledge. I’ve been known to have three on the go at once, fit in alongside my work (when I haven’t had a theatre production to work on). In fact I have three on the go right now, or I will have once I start on the new one I’ve just signed up to.

Does this sound like you, or am I alone in my addiction to learning?

thoughtful cartoon

I think this learning addiction has been helped along massively by the growth of MOOCs and online distance learning.

When I first moved to the far north of Scotland, distance learning was of the kind you signed up to and had papers sent through the post. You would read the bumf, do the coursework, then send it back in the mail. It was wieldy, slow and expensive. But now, your learning addiction can be satisfied quickly, for instant gratification. You just hit the subscribe button, pay your price and access a world of learning through the interwebs.

It’s interesting, informative, useful and a total drain on your time, despite being wonderful.

How do you spend your time?

I signed up to FutureLearn when it started and so far have completed these courses: Start Writing Fiction, Forensic Psychology, Shakespeare and his World, Digital Marketing, How to Read a Mind, Introduction to Forensic Science, Physical Theatre, Exploring Filmmaking, Much Ado About Nothing, Forensic Science and Criminal Justice, How To Write your First Song, Identifying the Dead, The Business of Film, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Introduction to Screenwriting, Explore Animation, Japanese Culture Through Rare Books, Stereoscopy, Forensic Facial Reconstruction, Competitive Advantage, Becoming Career Smart, Exploring Copyright, Creative Coding, How to Read a Novel, First Aid for Adults, Understanding GDPR, Bookkeeping for Personal and Business Accounting, and Early Modern Scottish Palaeography.

There are only two I didn’t like, and didn’t finish: The Power of Colour, and England in the Time of King Richard III.

Now if you read through that whole list, well done. It’s a whopper. Thirty courses in about three years, on FutureLearn alone.

The first one led to my OU Creative Writing courses, and my new-found love for the OU.

Addicted? Moi?

addiction2 (4)

Search online and you probably won’t find much about being addicted to learning. It’s a compulsion and is probably brought about, in part, by feelings of inadequacy – those thoughts that you really don’t know enough, that you need to learn more, THAT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW ENOUGH!

Say hello to the good old monster called Imposter Syndrome.

Now, I’m not saying that compulsive learning IS caused by Imposter Syndrome – personally, I just love to learn new things and enhance my knowledge in areas in which I have an interest – but when you learn for business, and can’t seem to stop, that’s when you have to take a long hard look at why you’re training all the time.

If you are constantly training for work, rather than just getting on with your work, it may be detrimental to your feelings of self-worth. Rather than enhancing your knowledge, you may actually be convincing yourself that you are no good. Training should be a force for good.

click here to sign up

So, if this sounds like you, ask yourself these questions:

Who are you doing the training for?

What am I getting out of the training?

Why am I training?

When is the best time for me to train? Do I need to do it right now?

How can I get the most from my training schedule?

Answer these honestly, and you may realise that you’re training just to convince yourself that you know what you are doing. I’ve been there and done that. Now I have a valid reason for all the training I do – it could be valid CPD (we all need to keep up-to-date) or it could be (and quite often is) because I love the subject. If you look at my list of courses above you’ll see a love for forensics, literature, film and theatre.

forensic filming in theatre

So, what do you think? Is there a valid reason for all that learning you are doing, or would you be better off spending your time doing something you love away from the screen? People, there’s a whole world of fun out there. Go and enjoy it.

3 Comments on “Are You Addicted to Training?

  1. What a great post, with a serious underlying message. One of my students is a bit older and been unwell with cancer. Even though now in remission it seems to have spurred them to do as many courses as they can possibly squeeze in to the day. Including mine. Friendship has ensued. I am grateful, then, for the tendency you describe.

  2. I do think there’s something to be said for leaving gaps between courses that give you a skill, so that you have time to practise that skill and embed it, particularly if it’s a skill for work. If you’re bouncing onto the next course, yay, new toys!! But don’t neglect the old toys, or you’re at risk of wasting both time and money if you have no new skill in your toolkit that you’re able to apply to work without having to dig out your course materials and figure it out from scratch time and again. Personally, I love the idea of taking endless courses, but I find the reality rather different. I learn best by accident, or nudge, when I don’t think I’m “learning”. I have started, but failed to finish, more FutureLearn courses than I’ve got to the end of. And those I’ve completed have been a bit rushed. I love documentaries, but I tend to fall asleep after about 25 minutes, so I always record them, and can see the whole thing, even if I have to wind back and replay a few times – and this is on subjects I’m really interested in! Brains, eh? Tricksy little things…

    • Oh totally! I also record documentaries so I can watch them at leisure and allow things to sink in.
      When I do courses for work I always leave a decent time in-between, as I like to ‘play’ afterwards and put things into practice. But, well, FutureLearn courses are my downfall … I love em.
      Especially the forensics ones – I ended up buying the ‘forensics bible’ so I can keep reminding myself.

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