Anna Boytsova, CCXP, is a CX professional based in Ukraine.
I started working on this article shortly after I passed my exam for CCXP certification: my learning path to CCXP was long and winding, and it felt right to share some advice and experience with fellow CX colleagues. The article was ready right before the war in Ukraine began, and obviously, it has been put aside for a while. But now, when the world seems to be facing a new impactful crisis, this piece about self-learning seems to be just on time – as our ability to be self-starters and learn new skills fast will be shaping our future from now on.
In this article, I will be sharing my personal experience and advice which helped me to go through my career switch from Project Management to Customer Experience Professional (which seems to be the best career decision I could probably make: right after becoming CCXP I joined EPAM Systems as a Senior Experience Consultant, still enjoying every minute of it).
- Why am I starting this?
- What will success look like?
- What will I get as a result?
- What are my trade-offs to make it happen?
Answers to these questions will help you to keep your focus on the end result (or it may happen, they might make you reset the priorities and change your plans, which is also ok).
For myself, my final goal was to become a CCXP, so I’ve built the overall process around exam preparation.
Tip #2. Treat your learning as a project
Without a clear plan and structure, you’re facing the risk of falling into procrastination and lack of focus. To avoid it, try applying project management principles. Any project has a specific timeframe, action plan, and knowledge base – all of these can be easily applied to your learning process.
- Make up a realistic (that’s the key word!) plan and schedule for your learning and make effort to stay on track
- Be diligent and accurate about saving learning content. Create a filing system for yourself which you’ll be able to easily search, and not to get stuck in the data chaos
- Be focused and consistent: avoid starting too many learning programs simultaneously, and don’t get distracted by parallel streams and topics.
Starting my CCXP exam preparation, I made a common mistake – I haden’t set a final date for my exam. This resulted in my spending about six months longer than I should have done. However, as soon as I set up the final exam date, I braced myself for it and made it there.
Tip #3. Set your “playground”
Studying takes time and effort, and if you don’t “book” these resources in advance, they will be devoured by your other routines. Book some space for your learning – both physically and time-wise.
- Think of the best time for you to study and plan your studies. Book them in your calendar and block this time from anything else.
- Find a private space where you won’t be distracted.
- Think of possible obstacles which might interfere with your studies (family members seeking attention, tiredness, household routines etc.), and how to mitigate them.
Most people I know prefer to study in the evening, after working hours. I have been quite persistent in my attempts to integrate a learning routine into my evening schedule, but it soon became obvious that it doesn’t work for me – I feel like keeping my evenings for my family. Instead, I have decided to have my learning routine early in the morning, well before working hours and daily chores. I am an early riser, so getting up early is not an issue, and besides, morning means a minimum of distractors and a fresh brain.
Tip #4. Make the learning process pleasant and caring
If someone tells you that studying is always easy and fun, I’d say they’re not being totally honest here… However, this process doesn’t have to be exhausting and stressful either.
- Think of the atmosphere and little rituals to cheer yourself up (for example, having a cup of a favorite tea).
- Be conscious of your body – make sure you have enough sleep and exercise, as obvious as it may sound (tired and sleep-deprived brain gets really slow in taking content in).
Tip #5 Find yourself a company
Networking works miracles, and it’s particularly true when it goes to learning. Your long road will be more fun in good company.
- Find yourself a mentor. It shouldn’t necessarily be someone you know personally, it can also be an opinion leader in your domain, someone who is a role model for you.
- Find a community where you can get support, links to useful materials, advice, etc.
Starting my learning process, I have reached out to colleagues who had already passed their CCXP exam for advice, and our communication grew into a strong and supportive community. Today, the global CX community is one of the most vivid, fast-growing and supportive among other domains. Supported and steered by global professional organizations like CXPA and world-known opinion leaders, CX world is an amazing (though challenging!) place to build your network.
The most important tip of all
Every approach is individual, and each of us will have some tips working or not working for them personally. Go on in discovering new things, talking to your colleagues, and looking at other people’s experiences, but always search for things that will work best specifically for YOU. Flexibility is particularly important now when the world becomes an unpredictable, but still promising place to live.
Good luck in your learning endeavors and may the sky above your heads always be peaceful!