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10 Stuggles Only Designers Would Understand

10 Stuggles Only Designers Would Understand

Working as a designer isn’t as glorified as many of us like to make it out to be. Sure we sit behind our fancy computer setups with huge screens, sketching ‘pretty pictures’ in our Moleskin notebooks and can enjoy the perks of being location independent, but working in design can also be one of the most stressful, involving and cutting edge jobs out there. Here are 10 struggles all designers could absolutely relate to.

1. You constantly keep an eye on new software and design trends

Your education actually starts when you graduate from college as the design world revolves pretty fast. You have recently learned to adapt your app designs for IPhone 6, but everyone is now in frenzy for creating Apple Watch apps and UI design has an absolutely different set of rules to follow. You have two choices – learn and adapt or starve.

If you are lucky, your company will invest in your education and pay for some classes. For instance, Intellectsoft web development company offers their creative staff one new professional course per year. DDB Canada advertising agency offers every employee $250 to buy something that fuels creativity.

If you are freelance – well, you are on your own to struggle with getting new skills and continuing your schooling. Certainly, there are free design courses out there, but they are rarely offering advanced training, so you’ll have to invest into your own education.

2. You always need to figure out what exactly your client wants

Once again, you have this letter landing in your inbox saying “I want a new cool new design for my business.”

Great, you think, but what exactly do you mean by “cool new design” Is it just a website or do you need an identity established (i.e. logo, business cards, website, etc.)? Or a product design? Or just some covers for your social media profiles? Do you already have established business identity colors or do you need me to do everything from scratch?

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The biggest nightmare of any designer is taking the work, spending numerous hours working to afterwards here something like, “Meh…I don’t really like it.” Baffled you ask, “Is it the color scheme? Is it the layout? Is it the typography?” You just hear again, “I just don’t like it. You know, make it some other way.” And at that point you know you’ll have to start it all over again, proposing to the client more and more options of what you can possibly do.

Being a designer means having a great intuition and constantly second-guessing what your clients needs. You have to be a great listener as well and catch all bits of information your clients drop about their aesthetic preferences.

3. You find it awkward to explain the client that his current design. . .sucks

You’ve been trained to create easy-to-use, crispy clean websites that are easy-to-use. The clients that come to you obviously were not, yet they care about their business and it’s often hard for them to admit that their current appearance really sucks.

When you get approached by someone asking for a small design job, say new banner design, and you see that the whole website needs a complete revamp, as one banner definitely won’t make sales higher or users happier, you face a moral dilemma – tell the truth or just make that banner and don’t bother. It feels nearly as awkward as to tell a girl you like that she looks fat in that dress she’s wearing tonight.

If you are a true professional you need to carefully select words and suggest improvements to clients without being too imposing or arrogant. Instead of taking the “I know it better” approach, try to make mild suggestions first like: “Did you know that if you fix your check out, your sales may rise up to 20%?”

4. You prefer to work with one person, rather than a board

Your ideal client is is a one-person operation. He knows your ideas actually bring results, he loves your style, you get along perfectly well and work goes fast and smooth. Add a partner in tow, and the difficulty doubles. Add more people, and the difficulties expand exponentially.

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One person who hired you loves what you did, the other doesn’t like the layout or the logo. Someone else thinks you should use different fonts everywhere. One “can’t put a finger on it, but there’s definitely something wrong there.” Another believes that red color would bring the business bad luck.

But there’s also a flip-side: working with/for a big company with multiple decision makers typically brings in more money. So you have to choose whether you are ready to go through numerous circles of criticism or settle for a lower paycheck.

5. You will have to deal with a lot of “opinions” and critics

As a designer you have public profiles on Behance, Dribbble, a personal website showcasing your work, active Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook profiles where you also share your latest masterpieces.

You’ve poured your heart, soul and sweat into these projects for weeks and then see some pesky comment from Mr. Anonymous saying you’ve copied designer X, or that’s just some amateurish illustration a 5-year old kid could draw better. You learned not to take those people close to heart, but still, it hurts when you are getting poor feedback for nothing.

6. You can’t stand ugly fonts

You can walk into a cafe, see that their menu’s written in Comic Sans, stand up and leave, even though it’s one of the best new places in town. The easiest way to piss you off is to give you a typography poster with four different fonts mixed up together! You won’t read sites online with terrible fonts and you won’t buy books with inappropriate spacing. Beautiful clear fonts become your ideal.

7. You are often undercharging

“How much should I charge?” is one of the most frequently asked questions in the designer community, and with good reason—it’s a tough nut to crack.

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Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You know that hourly rates can mess with your efficiency and can have the client question why you have spent 5 hours designing a single leaflet. Fixed-price projects are hard to correctly calculate at the initial stage if we are talking of a full website development+logo+business cards+whatever else.

You often charge big companies the same rate you offer to small businesses, while you could definitely make more from the first one as they have budgets.

You often quote a lower price to realize later on you’ve been doing some work for peanuts. And again, it often seems uncomfortable to ask the client for extra pay when you are half-through the job.

Also, you constantly face a dilemma for when you should ask to get paid – after the job is done, before, in milestones after each stage completed. Negotiating that with a client can become one huge frustration.

8. You have to tone down your creativeness

Your client needs just one banner design, not a hand-drawn illustration that vaguely represents some concept behind his business. As a designer, you often need to keep your creative juices to yourself and don’t let them overtake the client’s objective. Leave those boldest art ideas for some personal art.

9. You need to have super effective communication skills

These days designers are as much creatives as sales people.

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You wish your clients could actually peek inside your head and see with your eyes what exactly you are proposing to them, but sadly all you have to use is your words. At the end of the day if you can’t talk about and explain your design in details, it may never see the light of day.

You need to be able to stand up for your ideas, explain your concepts and point out why they could work miracles for the business.

10. You either love design, or leave it

With all the struggles mentioned above, weird working hours, questioning your creativity and facing blocks, you need to have a true passion for art and design if you’d like to succeed in the field.

If you don’t love what you do, you will likely get burned out soon. An optimistic attitude and a true love for conveying powerful messages through a visual medium and bringing in more beauty in the world will help you stay focused on your career and become a top professional everyone admire (even the harshest critics).

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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