Instructional Design

The Easiest Decision I Ever Made

Most who know me know that I am very passionate about ISD.  Many of those same people know how I became an instructional designer and why.

For those unaware, the short version of my story is that I discovered my love for ISD through the my work in hospitality management.  I was provided opportunities to design training, implement training, develop others’ skills, etc.  But I knew the hospitality industry was not my “forever home.”  For instance, I cannot be cursed out and keep a straight face and admit that “the customer is always right” after the fact and, let’s face it, that’s a very special skill needed for that industry – especially management in that industry.

I realized that I enjoyed the training and development part of that job, and I started looking for training management jobs.

I wasn’t far into my search when I discovered a position that I had never heard of called “Instructional Systems Designer.”  When I read the description it was EXACTLY what I wanted to do.  The only catch was that it required a masters degree, which I did not have at the time.  I immediately searched for this degree program, and when I found out that my Alma Mater (UCF) offered it I applied right away.  I never gave it a second thought.  I was 100%certain that it was what I wanted to do.

And here I am today, an instructional systems designer.

I usually tell some version of this story when I introduce myself.  After dinner one evening this week, I was discussing my story with some colleagues when I had my realization…and I described it to them.

I have told this story to many people, but it wasn’t until this week that I realized this was the easiest decision I have ever made.  It was also the fastest decision I have ever made.

I know, this sounds strange.

When it comes to business (especially in instructional design), I make decisions quickly and confidently.  I can quickly assess a situation, draw conclusions, and make decisions…as is required in business.  That is not to say I make rash decisions; I gather all necessary information through whatever means necessary and make decisions accordingly.  Decisions are usually objective and based on good reason and rationale.  This is a paradox as compared to when I am making a personal decision.

When it comes to personal decisions (such as graduate programs in this example), I usually weigh TOO many options and hem and haw quite a bit.  I try to envision the outcome of all possible options.  It’s classic paralysis by analysis — a term I learned from Johan Lehrer at a keynote address about his book How We Decide.  Yes, even in the toothpaste aisle…and picking out a birthday card takes more time than I would like to admit.  My personal decisions even sometimes become democratic ones (well, not the toothpaste and birthday card ones).  I’ll ask my husband, my parents, my siblings, and a few friends what they think or what they would do.

I can remember the instant I realized ISD was what I wanted to do.  It was free of second-guessing or hemming and hawing.  It was unlike most of my personal decisions.

It was the easiest decision I ever made.

How did you decide on your industry or career path?


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