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 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!