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Mindset Tips for Instructional Designers

Do you want to:

🦸‍♀️ improve your performance?
👀 increase your focus?
🏆 crush your goals?
✅ take the right actions, even when it is uncomfortable or hard?

Your performance may vary depending on things like your tasks, strengths, likes and dislikes, thoughts, emotions and your current life circumstances. If you are like us, you want to improve. You want to be better and become the best possible instructional designer and practitioner that you can be. With all of those variables impacting your performance, it can be difficult to maintain it where you desire it to be. One thought or emotion could lead you down a track that you never wanted to go down and create rework and backtracking. Not to mention a dent in your confidence and reputation.

We wish we could give you a magic potion to speed up your journey towards (even more) greatness as an instructional designer. We cannot do this but what we can do is share a psychological mindset that may support you on your journey to success. We are referring to the concept of psychological flexibility.

🤩 Upon sharing what psychological flexibility is to our founder, we received the following response. It says it all.

Psychological flexibility refers to “contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values”. (Working with ACT, n.d.a).

In other words, it means that you take action based on your longer term values and goals rather than impulse emotions or thoughts. “Psychological flexibility is about choosing which things you want to be flexible about, while also voicing what really matters.” (Brown, 2021).

For example, if your values and current goals align with eating healthy, with psychological flexibility you would decline the offer of a slice of cake. If you did not possess psychological flexibility you would be welcoming that cake with arms wide open, acting on your immediate impulses of hunger or cravings and not your values or long term goals.

Another example is if you have a thought that you are not as good as others and in turn you avoid training, developmental opportunities and network events because they bring on the immediate feeling of embarrassment or fear. Being psychologically flexible would mean attending these situations despite those feelings because you know that they will help you to meet your long term goals.

Setbacks and challenges are much harder to navigate for a psychologically inflexible person, which can make reaching goals difficult (Brown, 2021).

By obtaining psychological flexibility you will:

✍🏻 improve your concentration on tasks
🧠 become more mindful of what you are doing
📊 understand the importance of different tasks
😵 cope better with change
📉 recognise when to change ineffective patterns of behaviour.

(Working with ACT, n.d.b)

It is important to know that adopting psychological flexibility is not always easy. You may need to make uncomfortable changes and decisions in order to create positive change. If you want to make the most of your life and become the best possible instructional designer that you can be, come with us on this journey (and high-five!).

Here are some practical tips on how to adopt psychological flexibility.

1. Speak up for your purpose and goals

The first thing you need to do is become clear on your purpose and goals. This will help you to make decisions that contribute to your long-term success.

For example, as an instructional designer you may have the following purpose and goals.


To create solutions that put the learner at the heart of the design process.



👍🏼 always have an intent to serve the needs of those that will be impacted by your solution.
👩🏼‍🦰 always involve the learners in the design process.
✅ successfully change the behaviour of the learners who complete my solutions.
📑 only accept contracts that enable me to use a human-centred design approach.

Once you are clear on your purpose and goals, with every decision that you face, stop and take the time to assess whether the action you are taking is in alignment. It may be difficult in the moment but ‘future you’ will love you for it. You may even want to print out your purpose and goals so that it is visible to you at all times.

For example, imagine that you are in a meeting with a stakeholder and they hand over a pile of content they have worked on and say, “Please develop this content into a 45 minute eLearning course.” What do you do? Your immediate response may be to take the content and make it work, as you do not want to undermine your stakeholder’s work, role or decision to use that content. If you tap into your psychological flexibility you can pause and think about what the right decision is. In this case, you may explain to the stakeholder that you create learning solutions with a human-centred design approach because of X. Help them see the value of your perspective by speaking from the heart and enabling them to understand how your process will add value to their life and the results they desire.

Listen to this video on ‘How to Influence Stakeholders’ to discover how to stand up for your purpose and goals and influence your stakeholders in the process.

2. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions

Every day you will experience different thoughts and emotions but you do not want them to negatively impact your life or work performance. When you are not consciously aware of your thoughts and emotions, you are controlled by them.

For example, if you are feeling nervous about a presentation, you may unconsciously come up with excuses for why you cannot do it. You may think that you are too busy with work or that you have been feeling unwell and in turn get someone else to do it for you. What you need to do is stop and pay attention to the emotion. What is it telling you? What is really going on? Reflect on your purpose and goals. If giving a presentation will help you with your long term goals, accept the nerves for what they are but do not enable them to make you avoid the situation.

Process your feelings but do not cling to them (Garis, 2020). Ask yourself, “What is truly important to me?” and “What am I trying to achieve?” (Eason, 2017).

3. Be present

By being present you are able to obtain a flexible perspective of your internal dialogue.

For example, imagine that your internal dialogue is telling you to avoid networking events because last time you went you were awkward and you perceived that everyone thought you were weird. Instead of allowing this thought to dictate whether you will go to an upcoming event, stop and focus on the present moment. Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have to suggest that I will be awkward or perceived as weird at this event?”

Consider whether your thoughts about the past event are helpful to you or not? How are they impacting your goal of meeting new people in the industry? What action would be in your best interest?

Taking the time to be present and think through your emotions can make all the difference.

4. Reflect

Something as simple as taking the time to stop and reflect can have a significant impact on your performance and success.

At the end of each day, think about what took place and the results that you achieved.

  • Is there anything that you could have done differently?
  • Did you act in alignment with your purpose and goals?
  • Did a situation make you feel uncomfortable? How did you respond to it?
  • Did you do anything that you are not proud of? How will you avoid doing that again?
  • What interesting thoughts or feelings did you have? What triggered them?
Self-awareness is key. Moving blindly through life will lead to stress, disappointment and ultimately a life and career that does not align with who you are.

That is all for this blog on ‘Mindset Tips for Instructional Designers’.

💬 Share in the comments, what action you will take in response to this blog.

If you liked this blog, you will love our creator hub. There are heaps of resources for instructional designers and learning and development practitioners that you will find valuable, including many resources that help you achieve the strategies in this blog.





GIVE GRATITUDE: This helps us on our mission to provide quality education to you.

You can also contact our passionate founder Kim Tuohy by emailing or by connecting with her on LinkedIn.


Belvista Studios. (2021). How to Influence Stakeholders | Human-centred Design for Instructional Designers [Video File]. Retrieved from

Brown, J. (2021). Why ‘Psychological Flexibility’ Is the Key to All Happy Marriages. Retrieved from

Eason, A. (2017). How to Develop Your Psychological Flexibility and Why It’s So Important. Retrieved from

Garis, A.M. (2020). People With Iron-Clad Platonic and Romantic Relationships Share This One Trait. Retrieved from

Working with ACT. (n.d.a). WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL FLEXIBILITY? Retrieved from,in%20behavior%20in%20the%20service%20of%20chosen%20values%E2%80%9D.


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