This year, I’ve been thinking more about the kind of career I want. It’s becoming less hard for me to think of what my long-term goals are in the next 2, 3, and 5 years but I have a weakness that has been pulling me back: my lack of confidence. I’d describe some of my flaws as a mix of meekness, passiveness, and a lack of trust in my abilities. I am surrounded by friends who are supportive and aren’t shy in giving compliments, and it makes me even more aware of our difference in perspectives. How could they think I could accomplish so much, and why could I only see myself as so little? Losing that belief in my skills as a designer was a change that gradually happened, and I haven’t even noticed until earlier this year. I became determined to rectify it, and I’ve made some decisions that are helping me regain that confidence back.
Working with mentors
I’ve been working in small teams far too long and in that few years, I’ve been building a general set of skills and a passion for building digital products. But I still felt lacking in some areas — there are some things I’d like to learn how to do and skills I want to develop, and areas I want to specialize in.
I’ve decided to work at a place with senior designers in order to observe and experience their approach to designing digital products. To learn by working with them. The feedback I’ve been getting are constructive and objective, less personal and indecisive and it helps me focus on what to improve on. I’ve been noting down the critiques to build a habit of self-awareness when it comes to designing interfaces and approaching UX. I’m finally no longer working in a “design team of 1”, and the feeling is liberating and empowering at the same time.
Owning designs and learning from mistakes
In the past, when I said I wanted to “own something”, I don’t think I was able to articulate what I meant by it. In teams where too many stakeholders drive product and design decisions, I slowly stopped believing in whatever we were supposed to be making. When mistakes were made, I didn’t feel responsible and I started to care less about the product because of this.
Now, things are different. Designs are discussed, ideas are shared and listened to. When I’m assigned to a project (or part of a project), I feel responsible for it. I feel challenged in my struggles, and I feel accomplished when a screen design has gone through a couple of iterations just to get those user goals right. I never want to make others feel like that I would need hand-holding to do something right, and the best I can do is to make sure I do it better the second, third, and fourth time. It gives me a rush of accomplishment when I get positive feedback after learning from earlier missteps, and makes me feel like I’m improving.
Joining a supportive community
Community is important: everyone is on their own journey but the journey doesn’t seem too hard, too long, or impossible when we receive help from other people. I know I have to reach out to others when I need help, but there’s a difference when friends from our community extend help themselves. Sometimes you wouldn’t know what’s possible until someone offers it to you. I’m definitely looking forward to accomplishing more things with other people this year!
Making (and finishing) projects
I’ve been starting to pick up some smaller projects so I can keep building digital products. One of my happiest moments earlier this year was finishing a working prototype of a sprint board using Trello’s API. I’m now trying to into the habit of building again, and I have a couple of projects planned (and one started). I just need to make sure I finish them, even if it’s just a working prototype!
I have four months to go this year, and building my confidence is currently a work in progress:
- By the end of September, finish building 1 app.
- By the middle of December, share something with the design community.
- Publish blog posts regularly, at least once a month.
By reaching those goals, I should have a bit more of confidence ;)