Who here struggles from time to time with self-doubt? Maybe the better question is, "Who doesn't struggle with self-doubt?" These thoughts that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, too old, too young, there’s too much you need to learn, and it (whatever that is for you) feels unachievable?
I think as designers and creatives we want to create the best work possible. Therefore, we tend to be perfectionists, scrutinizing every detail because we are taught that the power and greatness of design is in the details. We get paid to obsess over the details.
But how do you separate doing great work from the thought that you’re somehow a failure if you don’t absolutely nail it every time?
I’ve been a designer for more than 20 years. I earned a BA in graphic design. I am quote-unquote “trained” to have a career in graphic design. So why do I still, after all these years, sometimes doubt my abilities, my ideas, my decisions?
Early in my career, I would imagine getting to this place where I had all this experience in design. I would be so fast and brilliant, and the great ideas would just happen. I would immediately know how to handle every tough situation with clients, and it would be smooth sailing. It’s a bit laughable now.
I will say, a lot of it has become easier and faster due to practice, continued learning, and the experience of working with lots of different clients and projects. And this has all been extremely valuable. However, I now realize there’s no final rosy destination where the ideas flow effortlessly, and there are no problems. That’s not the way it works. Ask any seasoned person about their career, and I’ll bet they will tell you the same. There will always be challenges, doubts, and this wondering if we’re good enough and when we’ll finally “arrive”! We all go through seasons of feeling confident and like we can conquer the world, but then, out of nowhere, there are periods of self-doubt and introspection.
I share this because I must be authentic and honest with you. I’ve had a few rough days lately where these feelings of doubt have crept in. I think much of it is because the heaviness of these uncertain times due to Coronavirus is taking its toll, but I still have these thoughts from time to time even in “normal” life. Thoughts like:
- Am I good enough to be teaching and helping other designers through their journey?
- Am I still a relevant and a “good” designer?
- Do I have what it takes to make a positive impact on the design community?
Of course, these thoughts don’t encourage me, they make me feel like crap, and they certainly don’t align with my vision of helping others. I know this, so I’m working through them, but that doesn’t mean I’m instantly over it and back on track. I am not a robot with a reset button.
After living with myself for so long, I’ve learned that sometimes I need to let myself be in the funk, feel the feelings, process them, and not beat myself up for the way I’m feeling. Sometimes the guilt over feeling bad is worse than what started it in the first place.
So here’s what I’m doing to get back to my usual driven, positive, passionate self:
- I’m replacing any unhelpful thoughts with new, inspiring ones.
- I’m looking at the evidence that I really can and do help other designers in their journeys. (I mean, you guys tell me all the time that my videos and trainings help you so there you go.)
- I’m reminding myself that I have been doing this a long time, and I DO have valuable insights to offer.
- And I remember that because I don’t give up, I am becoming a better teacher every day.
- Life is happening FOR me, not TO me. (Shout out to James Wedmore for constantly pointing this out.)
- And I’m reminding myself that no one in life ever has it all figured out or gets to a place where they know everything. I think that’s the exciting part...we get to keep learning, growing, and changing. We don’t give up because we know there is infinite potential for what we can become and what we can accomplish for ourselves AND others.
- I’m also forcing myself to do what I know sets me up for success each day, even if I don’t feel like it. For me, that’s getting up at 6 am, having coffee and quiet time before the rest of the family emerges. Then going for a walk to clear my head.
So, if you’re in a funky place right now, I want to encourage you:
You are enough. You are becoming a better and better creative each day because you keep doing it, and you do have value to share and teach to others.
I want you to know that I value the encouragement you send my way by being a part of the Designing Success community. I'm rooting for you always, and especially if you're in a "funk."
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