If you aren’t careful, designing an online course can feel like an endless, impossible task.

You focus on the goal of “create the best course you can,” which leads you to generate hundreds of ideas.

You craft elaborate modules, full of every type of content you can think of (videos! slide presentations! audio interviews!)

You want to be generous and inspiring, so you strive to include every conceivably useful piece of knowledge, every technique and tip you’ve discovered.

You’re excited to interact with your participants, so you create discussion question after discussion question to invite their contributions.

After working this way a while, you just feel exhausted.

You have a gigantic — yet incomplete! — course.

And you’re no closer to launching your course than when you started.

The way out of this trap is to answer a critical question before you create your course:

What’s 1 thing people in my course should DO differently after they complete the program?

Reset your thinking by focusing on action.

Let’s say you’re creating a course on how to reduce stress through mindfulness — and it’s for total beginners, people who are brand-new to mindfulness and have never meditated before.

Think about action — What’s one thing that people in this course could DO differently after they complete the program?

Maybe they could download a free meditation app, such as Headspace, and use it for 10 minutes a day, for 10 days straight.

Then share how they feel after those 10 days of practice.

Once we begin to think about the end results of our program, we can really get somewhere.

We can start to design well-defined course content that will support this action.

Perhaps a personal story about how mindfulness has changed your life and how you hope the practices will help your participants.

Perhaps prompting people to share their goals and intentions for the course.

A “short and sweet” introduction to how mindfulness meditation works, and then some quick myth-busting with common areas of confusion or misconceptions.

Then get people into action!

How to learn more

Check out 5 Steps to Your Online Course ».