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Week 27.

Design GPS: Setting Goals and Finding My Way

A Donut by Kylie on 12 July

Last week I wrote about feeling like I had lost my way, eventually coming to the conclusion that the way to find my way again was to set myself some goals. So, I spent this past week thinking about what I wanted to achieve in the near future. Some of my goals are half-baked so I’ll just share the two that I think are the most solid and the most relevant to this blog.

1. Be more invested, take more ownership.

Everyday, I make a multitude of decisions about design. Sometimes the decisions are ‘trivial’—what colour should I use? Should I use a serif or sans serif font? How thick should this stroke be? Other times, the decisions are a little more serious—what will motivate X to do Y? What tone of voice should be used? My decisions, whether trivial or serious, are often well informed. The problem is that I’m not always 100% invested in my decisions and this often weakens my ownership of my own work. I become easily swayed by outside influences or an internal moment of doubt and I’ll abandon an well-informed decision for one that is less informed.

In the next few months—which is hopefully enough to build a solid habit—I want to become more invested in my decisions and thus take more ownership of my work. This means sticking to my guns when I start to doubt something, or defending informed and justified decisions (if appropriate) when presented with other options that don’t have a strong foundation. The way I see myself achieving this is by maintaining a firm grasp on a project’s key details/research while always referring to it as if they were a map to guide my work. Shutting down self-talk will also help too!

2. Develop my skills in a secondary field

A few years ago, I was pretty full-bottle on the whole front end development thing. So much so that I actually called myself a Designer/Front End Developer (don’t worry, in hindsight I would probably argue this point with past-me too). It felt good to have an additional skill that complemented my design ability. For me, learning HTML and CSS was a turning point in my design ability—my work improved so much with the extra knowledge. Not only this, it also opened up possibilities within my work and within my career in general. But, in recent years, as I’ve shifted my focus heavily on design, my front end knowledge has begun to weaken. There are new technologies and ways of doing things (not to mention front end development feeling a bit like back end development these days) that the upkeep of this skill is really time consuming. It’s also become something that is quite removed—practically speaking—from what I do on a day to day basis.

I’d really like to catchup on the front end side of things, so I will work on this as much as I can but I’m pretty sure I want this new ‘complementary skill’ to be one that is more intrinsically linked with practical design ability. I’m really interested in psychology, philosophy and anything to do with human communication/motivation so it’s only natural that I am drawn to the user experience side of design. I’d really like to strengthen my knowledge in this area and I think it would complement my visual design skills well. I’m not looking to be a User Experience Designer (at least, not at the moment) but I think going down this path is the right way especially as I think it will help with my first goal.

So, with that, these are my two main goals for the rest of the year and probably beyond. I’ve started working on them this week and I’m feeling good about my decisions so far. Hopefully this gives me a little bit of direction to ensure that I continue to move forward.

This week's donut?

Setting solid goals and sticking to them can be difficult, but they are an excellent way to encourage motivation to keep moving forwards.

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