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How I Keep My Sanity As A Designer

How I Keep My Sanity As A Designer

The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.

You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it.

There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. –  Wayne Dyer

Deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines, this has been my life in the past couple of years due to a very difficult, challenging and intricate project.

Everyone in the office is pulling their hair out as the client’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) keep finding new and ‘creative’ ways to change their original brief and technical recommendations and now it has become a vicious circle.

It is almost like they keep changing their minds on purpose, but it is not so, when one works in a project of that magnitude and scope, there are things likely to go ‘amiss’ during the planning stages, and somehow these missing pieces are compounding to become an eternal barrage of modifications.

This is my life, the customer gets what he pays for and we make sure they do get that and more.

 

How do I keep sane during this challenging period?

These are some suggestions on how I keep my sanity during times of stress. Whether you are a Designer or not these principles can cross-pollinate to other industries and occupations, they are as follow:

 

Be like water my friend – Bruce Lee

I love Karate and Martial Arts in general, and Bruce Lee’s advice transcends age and time.

When we become rigid in our attitudes there is no room for adjustment and sometimes we have to allow some ‘wiggle room’ in order to accomplish our objectives.

Life, career and love will throw a few curve balls and by being docile we accept sometimes we have to take a different path to get to our goals and it is far less stressful if we keep an open mind.

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I use humor (laugh, laugh, laugh)

It is encouraged in the Special Forces to use humor to channel stress and keep a positive state of mind even when there seems no way out.

Laughter releases ‘endorphins’ which is our inbuilt happy drug, this helps us prolong our lives and improve our health when it’s naturally released and laughter is the key.

I have a favorite comedian; the late Robyn Williams, he had this ability to make anyone laugh with the simplest of skits.

Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’ and ‘Delirious’ always help me snap out of a grim spell, Eddie takes me back to when I was a teen.

If I am in a real desperate need for a laugh, Dave Chapelle’s old comedy shows cracks me right up.

 

Read about role models and draw inspiration from them

When I am stuck in a ‘hole’, I find inspiration from reading the following Greats:

Sir Norman Foster             – Architecture

Daniel Libeskind                – Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright            – Architecture

Leonardo Da Vinci             – Inventor, Artist, Architect

Stephan Sagmaister          – Graphic and Visual Design

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Max Miedinger                  – Swiss Graphic Designer and Typographist

Ken Done                           – Australian painter and artist

Jean-Michel Basquiat       – Painter (RIP)

Don Norman                      – UX and Human Centered Design

Stanley Kubric                    – Cinematographer

Tony Robbins                     – Life coach and entrepeneur.

Wayne Dyer                       – Spiritual teacher

Neil Kramer                       – Modern Day Philosopher

I find reading about these inspiring gentlemen a real treat for my soul, they are my role models and I would try to adopt as many of their qualities as I can. I picture myself in their position and that makes me feel better about myself.

 

Exercise and Sports

I love Karate and I also have a gym set up at home, and after a stressful day in the office my wife and I find ourselves working out together listening to music we both like.

Not only do we channel all the frustration and negativity out, but funny enough we bond and find solutions to many challenges we are seeking answers to.

When you spend most of the day staring at a computer screen, there is not a lot of movement taking place, there is a slight muscle atrophy and if under constant duress (as most graphic designers) aches and pains will develop.

By ‘moving’ we also focus on the activity at hand, we clear our thoughts and like a computer we dump useless information that no longer serve us.

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Spend time in nature

Spend time in the woods or at the beach, take yourself away from the city and you will see how wonderful it feels to leave it all behind, whether for a few hours, a day, long weekend or a few.

In Melbourne, we are very lucky we have small parks in every suburb, and I go for a walk every morning tea time for 20 minutes when the weather is good.

Not only is it a good ‘pick me up’ during the day, but it is nice to see other people doing the same, we usually say good morning and it is a great way to bond with other people and is specially extra nice when they take the time to ask you how you are going.

 

Reward yourself for those little wins

When you have a ‘breakthrough’ reward yourself, it doesn’t need to be something big, it can be something as small as a cup of coffee, a muffin, buying lunch or a quick drink after work.

Why reward yourself? Because, it gives you motivation for the next win, re-enforces positive behaviour (good habits) and also makes the effort worth the while.

It is also good on a psychological level because ‘all work and no play, makes your world all grey’ this is my own variation, feel free to use it.

Find your tribe, support network

When the chips are down it is important to have people who will support you and give you that much needed assist to get you out of the mess.

It is important to gravitate to people who have a positive attitude because not only will they be willing to help you, they are likely to have others like them who can potentially come to your aid.

If you have a ‘tribe’ you are a lucky person, but if you don’t, find solutions because they operate at a higher vibration.

If you want to grow, do not spend time with negative people, as they have a problem for every solution, life is way too short.

 

You are not your just your job

Society has taught us we have to define ourselves with what we do for a living and this has originated since the beginning of civilization.

This is where a lot of Old English surnames or last names come from: Tailor, Blacksmith, Arrowsmith, Spinner, Weaver, Baker, Clark, Carter etc.

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Think about it this way, you are way more than your occupation, you are a father, mother, brother, sister, friend, grandpa, grandma, etc. and there is no one else like you in the world, and even if they could clone you there would be a few differences here and there.

When down, I remember I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 others.

When I am facing challenges, I remind myself I am the winning sperm out of 400,000,000 and if I made it here I can pretty much accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.

I constantly ask the question: ‘How can I be of a greater service to others’ and one of the answers so far is to be kind, compassionate and caring to other people.

But my burning question is: ‘How can I become better at whatever I do’ that is, having the greatest impact, because this transcends occupation, this delves into the realm of purpose and my own mission in life.

 

Connecting to ‘Source’

This puts things in perspective and helps me raise my vibration, connection to source, God, Yahweh, or whoever you believe in.

I am not preaching Religion, I am preaching ‘Faith’ in yourself and your ability to manifest what you want in life with the help of our Divine Creator regardless of what you call him or her.

We have to start listening to that inner voice and block out all the noise around us, the TV, news, ads, internet, smartphone, sex, drug, rock’n’roll, Justin Beaver, Kylie Minogue, etc. are craving for our attention, and sometimes we need to block them out to listen to your own voice.

There are many people out there who think (preach) to know the truth, but have they ever walked a mile in your shoes? Unless they have, how do they know is best for me or you?

 

You and I are in control of our own destiny

And as a last point, we have been taught we have no power over our own lives, but it is not true, we have the power to make anything happen, all we have to do is to have a vision, develop a plan/strategy and be willing to work hard for it.

By bettering myself and improving my skills I feel more confident about the future and takes away a lot of the uncertainty I feel about the future, every person at some point is concerned about the future, take charge and manifest a better tomorrow by improving yourself now.

If you feel you are stuck in your job, do some online courses, every skill counts and it will look favorable on you CV. Believe it or not, studying has helped me focus on other things rather than the stress of work as it has given me the skills and confidence to solve problems at a higher level.

If you have any other ways you deal with stress, please comment below, let us get the conversation started.

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Louis Salguero

UX, HCD, UCD, GUI, graphic and web designer

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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.

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2. Show Compassion

If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

3. Communicate Regularly

Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

4. Ask for Feedback

Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.

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How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

You Can Find Good Help

It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.

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You Pull Together as a Team

Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.

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Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

Your Career Shines Bright

Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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