Looking to land an instructional design job? If you’re changing careers it might seem like there are so many steps between where you are now and your dream role. But, I’m here to help!
Use this 90 Day Action Plan template and follow the instructions outlined below. You’ll be well on your way to meeting your big instructional design goals!
90 Day Action Plan to Develop Your Skills for an Instructional Design Job
You might be asking yourself, “Why 90 days? Why not 365 days?” So, let’s talk about why a 90-day action plan will be beneficial for you and your goals.
90 seems to be the magic number when it comes to successfully meeting goals. That’s because focusing on goals for a shorter amount of time creates more urgency around completing that goal.
If you set only annual goals, it’s easy to procrastinate the steps that are necessary for success. Plus, for most of you, your instructional design goals are something you’re doing for yourself. You don’t necessarily have a boss or a team waiting on you to meet this deadline. For some reason, our personal goals are easier to put off.
I know I’m guilty of setting a yearly goal and then thinking “Oh, I have plenty of time to do that!” But, then, the closer I get to my deadline, the further out of reach that goal seems!
Instead, put your intense focus on developing a core set of skills for just the next 90 days. Imagine where you could be in your instructional design journey 90 days from now!
Step 1: Grab Your 90 Day Action Plan Template
I’m going to walk you through the steps you need to take to develop your skills so you can confidently apply for instructional design jobs. Use this 90 Day Action Plan template to create and track your goals.
Step 2: Write your Instructional Design Goals
Now, it’s time to set your big instructional design goals!
Here are some things to consider when setting your big instructional design goals:
What kind of instructional designer do you want to be? What do you see yourself doing in an instructional design role? Is it organizing, scripting, storyboarding, and creating the instructional experience? Or are you the one working with eLearning authoring tools to develop courses? Maybe a little bit of both?
Another thing to consider is what type of instructional design job interests you? For example, are you looking for a traditional corporate environment with a learning and development team? Maybe a role in the Education sector, whether it’s K-12 or Higher Education? Or, if you’re not quite ready to dive into a full-time position or you want a flexible environment, perhaps a freelance role is more your style.
If you’re not sure what kind of instructional designer you want to be, you’ve got to check out this interview with four instructional designers in different types of jobs. You can also read the interview here if you prefer.
Now, are you imagining yourself in your dream instructional design job? The three goals you write are your first steps to sitting in that position. So let’s nail those down!
Your big instructional design goals should be SMART. If you don’t already know about SMART goals, here’s a great resource to get you up to speed.
Here’s an example of a SMART goal that I’ll refer back to throughout this guide. I will create a 10-minute microlearning for a face-to-face learning experience by December 31.
My goal clearly specifies what I’ll be doing. It’s also measurable, based on whether I do or do not end up with that 10-minute course. It’s achievable in that it’s realistic for me to design and develop. Finally, it’s time-bound because I’m attaching that December 31st due date.
Here are some other examples of big, SMART goals that will develop your skills to prepare you for an instructional design job:
- Create a 3-minute instructional video by November 30th
- Prepare an instructional design resume and cover letter sample by December 15th
- Design a 5-slide Powerpoint template by November 15th
- Build a course and quiz in Articulate Storyline by December 31st
- Complete a portfolio with three assets by November 30th
Find Your Why
Here’s another essential piece to crafting an action plan that truly supports your instructional design goals. First, consider the ‘why’ behind your transition to instructional design. What’s driving you to make this switch?
This is unique to you but might include things like:
- Making more money
- Having a better work-life balance
- Earning a promotion
- Working in a lower stress environment
- Working remotely
So, what’s your why? Include this in your action plan!
Your Instructional Design Future
Next, I want you to imagine a future where you have achieved all your instructional design goals. What does your life look like when you reach your big ID Goals? What will be different and what will improve?
Maybe you’ll have projects to build a portfolio, or you’ll be ready to apply for an instructional design job. On the other hand, maybe your goals are all about building confidence in what you can create.
You might be wondering why I’m asking you to go deep with this action plan. I don’t just want you to write SMART goals and be on your way. Your connection to these goals will harden your commitment to achieving them.
Challenge Your Negative Beliefs
What you believe matters. So, take a moment here to examine your personal beliefs when it comes to instructional design.
First, identify any beliefs that might be holding you back. I’m talking about those pesky, intrusive thoughts telling us we can’t do something. Get them out of your brain and onto your template, out in the open!
Here are some of the common limiting beliefs when it comes to instructional design work. You should list your own on your template:
- I’m too old to make a career change.
- I can’t do the tech stuff.
- It’s just not a good time. I’m so busy.
- I can’t afford to learn a new skill.
- I’m afraid no one will hire me.
- What if my existing skills don’t transfer to an instructional design job?
Now that you’ve got those limiting beliefs out in the open, they don’t have to hold us back anymore! So let’s turn those negatives into positives.
For each limiting belief that you listed, turn them into an opportunity for growth. Here’s how:
- “I’m too old to make a career change.” Turns into: I have a wealth of experience I can build on to do something new.
- “I can’t do the tech stuff.” Turns into: I can learn how to operate a new tool and grow from there.
- “I’m too busy.” Turns into: I will invest a small amount of time into something that will change my life for the better.
See what I’m doing there? Spin the negative beliefs into positive affirmations and change your mindset. It can make all the difference when it comes to successfully meeting your instructional design goals.
List the Things You’ll Need to Support Your Skill Development
Here are some ideas:
- Take an online course.
- Follow a blog or read a book on a certain topic.
- Practice working on a new tool.
- Find a support person or group to help you.
- Schedule time to devote to goal completion.
- Research instructional design position on a job search board.
What Does Success Look Like?
Now, describe what successful goal completion looks like. How will you know when each of your goals has been achieved?
Step Three: Create Tasks For Goal Completion
Now, you’ve identified goals that support your instructional design vision. You’ve also removed obstacles to meeting your goals by challenging your limiting beliefs. Here’s where the practical work begins.
In this step, you’ll list the steps you need to take to meet your SMART goals. Then, list each task that will contribute to your overall goal success, no matter how small.
I’ll use my microlearning goal example from above to demonstrate. To accomplish that goal, I’ll need to do the following checklist items:
- Research topics of interest
- Identify the learning persona for the intended audience
- Outline the course
- Determine the best way to deliver the course
- Create a storyboard
- Add complementary multimedia to the storyboard
- Develop the content
Suddenly, that small goal starts to look pretty big, right? So if you feel those limiting beliefs begin to creep back in, remember your affirmations. You’ve got this! Now, do the same thing for each of your three goals.
Step Four: Create your 12 Week Plan & Track Goals
We’ve reached the last part of the action plan and the last page of the template. This is where the magic happens! Here, you’ll take all the work you put into creating your action plan and make commitments to it.
Turn each of the tasks from the previous section into an actionable milestone with its due date. Let’s return to my example goal of creating microlearning and see what that looks like when I break it down into milestones.
As you can see, all I did was bring back the tasks I identified in step three as my milestones. Then, I attached a realistic due date to complete the entire goal within my timeframe.
Tips for Success
As you create your 12 Week Plan, here are some suggestions to ensure you succeed.
Break up your milestones into even smaller tasks. This will help make sure you’re setting realistic due dates. Sometimes, all the little pieces of a task add up.
Adjust your due dates if you need to! If you didn’t give yourself enough wiggle room, change your due dates to make sure you meet your big instructional design goals.
Use a free project management tool, like Trello. This has two benefits: it will help you stay organized and prepare you for real instructional design jobs you have in the future.
Own Your Progress Towards an Instructional Design Job
Now that you have an action plan in place, it’s time to start owning your progress. Use the ‘Done’ column to cross off each item as you complete it. Pat yourself and on the back with every completed milestone. Even if it was an easy task, it’s one step towards meeting your big instructional design goals.
Use the percentage bubbles beneath each goal tracker to own your progress. Fill in the bubbles as you complete tasks based on how close you are to that end goal. Using my example above, I would probably fill in the 10% bubble when I complete the first and second milestones.
But, that 5th milestone? That’s a huge chunk of my progress. Once that’s completed, I might fill in 50 or 60%.
Again, don’t forget to celebrate your progress. Continue using this tracker so you can keep your end goal in sight every day.
Hold yourself accountable if you aren’t seeing the progress you would like. Return to those limiting beliefs and ask yourself if you’re letting any of them stand in your way. Remind yourself of your affirmations and put in a renewed effort to meet your end goal.
Remember what it will look and feel like when you’ve met your goal, and keep pushing!
Wrapping it Up
Use this action plan to make your instructional design vision become a reality. If you need to focus on just one big instructional design goal instead of three, do that! Part of this 90-day plan is recognizing your own circumstances and creating a plan to fit your needs.
Have questions? Want support in creating and implementing your 90-day plan? Join my community of instructional designers and aspiring career changers in The Hangout!
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield