Instructional Designer: Learn How To Stay Inspired
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How To Stay Inspired If You Are An Instructional Designer

Are you inspired? Does your work reflect the level of creativity that you are capable of? Are you limited by factors out of your control? The struggle is real for Instructional Designers, as they must balance their creative desires and well-defined guidelines. These guidelines are well in effect for both academic and corporate organizations. These guidelines oftentimes tend to stifle creativity. The risk is that the learner will not be engaged, and the messaging is not as impactful as intended. Ultimately, the desire should be to create inspired eLearning, push the limits of the Instructional Designer, and still satisfy the organization's guidelines. An area of concern for the Instructional Designer is the ability to find the inspiration and strength to overcome the resistance to explore their creativity. Because of this, there may be other forces at work that are limiting their potential. Let’s take a look at what those factors may be.

Creatio Ex Nihilo (Latin For "Creation From Nothing")

Your typical (if there is such a thing) Instructional Designer may be a quart low on attitude, having been told once too often that their idea won’t work, its not right, or that it is just lacking. This promotes self-doubt; you compare yourself to others, you wonder about your talent, you are in a downward spiral. The weight of all this negativity can be overwhelming and destructive. However, it’s not too late to stop listening to those inner voices and redirect that energy toward something more useful. We are talking about being creative, right? So, let’s start where we know it can do the most good.

Let’s take a look at this organically and see what we are up against. All those voices in your head that tell you that you are not creative enough, not good enough, not worthy, originate right inside your head. Specifically, studies have been done that show a higher degree of activity in certain areas of your brain when you are being creative, and the area associated with self-doubt is less active. The reverse is true when we are not feeling creative and the other part of the brain that is in control of self-doubt, monitoring, and control is more active. In other words, we are out of balance.

Who Are You Really?

You are you! Having said that, how can you get "you" back on track and fire up that creative energy that you know exists in you? There is something inside you driving this fear, uncertainty, and doubt and until that is conquered, the creative spark cannot be lit. Your creativity is always with you but sometimes it may need a little coaxing to come out of the shadows of your mind. To look for inspiration, it may be helpful to see how others resolve this issue, such as writers, musicians, and other creative types. Generally speaking, artistic people do what they do because they love it, it brings them happiness, it speaks to their inner self. I may not be talented enough to write a song or pen the next great American novel, but I do like what I do. Because I like what I do, I want to learn more and be better at what I do. So, start there and ask yourself, "Do I like what I am doing?" If so, great; if not, now is the time to figure out how to get where it is you want to go.

Cultivate Your Ideas

Unfortunately, you may have seen a situation where an idea is presented and it is shot down. Maybe not directly, maybe even covertly, but you can tell when an idea has a failure to thrive. Two things happen almost immediately. The first is you doubt yourself—my ideas are no good; I don’t have the knowledge, background or intelligence. All of those things are most likely false. Do an honest evaluation, and if those things really are not true or you just need to fine-tune your idea, then maybe it’s not you, maybe it's them. So, the next thing to consider is your audience. It may very well be true that the people you are promoting your idea to have a vested interest in seeing you not succeed. The reasons vary, but they can range from jealousy, job security or just apathy. Once you realize why things happen, you can adjust what you need to do to be successful.

Adjust, Adapt, Survive

It is unlikely that you will be successful in everything you do, especially if it is the first time. But, it is likely that the more you do something, the better you will get. If your idea is not received well, then go back to work and figure out the "whys." Share your ideas again and be sure that your audience is varied. Different viewpoints can give you a perspective you had not previously considered. But always be the cheerleader for you and promote your ideas and continue to generate more. Being stagnant is not the path to being great. Your mind is like a muscle, and the more you work it, the better it gets. Self-doubt is the enemy you must conquer, and you can do this may different ways. Look to others for inspiration and keep growing your knowledge base. Write down your ideas and try to generate at least one a day; increase that until you reach 5 a day or maybe even 10, the more the better. The inspiration for your ideas may come from some of the basic things that you overlook every day. For example, what did you see today that you liked or didn’t like? If you observed something today, how would you have resolved it or, better yet, how do you think another person would have? What did you see that was silly or unbelievable? Once you develop an eye for observing what is happening around you, then you can develop your ideas, promote them in a medium you are comfortable with, and generate quality feedback that will help you be more creative.

Next Steps

Albert Einstein once said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.” Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” What they are saying is good ideas are only slightly about creativity. They are mostly about hard work. The one thing they have in common is they failed more than they succeeded, and they had many people say their ideas were no good. However, they persevered, they loved what they did, and they were their own cheerleader; ultimately, they found success. You do have a lot to learn, we all do, but don’t take for granted what you do know and what you can share with others. Keep building your network of like-minded people who will help you as much as you help them. Share with those that are not at your level to help them achieve the inspiration, creativity, and skills you are looking for.

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