As I reflect back on my previous work experiences before making my next career move, there are three high level principles that I have taken away. These principles have enabled me to strengthen my design practice in that they made me think deeply about my career, the work I want to do in the future, and to prioritize the kind of work I do to help me get there.
What am I working on?
In today’s world, there are so many problems that need solving. It is okay for designers to be selective about what they want to design as that is what can generate the most inspiration and passion for them. Even if that isn’t the case starting out, one simple question you should be able to answer is before taking on any kind of work is: Is what I am working on something I care about? And the next step is asking your yourself why?
When I was interning at different companies, I wasn’t always conscious about whether or not the kind of work I was working on valued to me. Deeply working with my co-workers and interacting customers made me realize the problems I was approaching were very real, but some problems were less important to me because they were not what I valued.
I thought that maybe I needed to try harder, or wait until I fully believed in the problem, but I realized that this wasn’t always the case. While I developed empathy for the people going through the specific problem, the mission itself didn’t always resonate with me.
I tried and can’t fake my way into feeling passion for a mission that I myself don’t see a future for or believe in.
It makes it hard to work on something that isn’t aligned with my guiding principles of life. And that is okay because people have different beliefs and will be working designing things for others that believe in the same thing. The best thing you can do is support them.
Quality over quantity
Though quantity shows breadth, the quality of work transcends that. Quality shows that you took your time to do something right. In an industry that focuses on adoption and customer retention, the quality of those product experiences leading to that is crucial for a sustainable business.
When I kept getting multiple opportunities to write or work on freelance design projects, I realized that I couldn’t take very job. This was because I had limited time and energy. I wanted to work on projects in which I wasn’t afraid of putting over 100% and that they were worth something in the future. I wanted to take on projects of things I saw a future for, whether it was based on my core values or it was something that had potential in expanding my skillset. This is where being intentional comes in.
The best situation would have lots of quality work but if you don’t have that, showcase your best work that expresses your abilities and strengths. In UX design, there are no shortcuts and that means how you work shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of producing lots of beautiful products that don’t fulfill a purpose.
The reasoning behind our design decisions and how they influence the development of a product and what people need doesn’t just apply to UX design. It applies to us as well. Being extremely aware of who you are, your values and decisions you make leads to more fulfilling work, and a better understanding of yourself and the surroundings you encounter. This can influence your design work, creating a positive feedback for yourself and your craft.
Wisdom: To be where you are + To allow action to rise to that being
We can be intentional with how we make decisions, but we cannot always expect intentional answers. This is because life can be unpredictable and in order to continue being intentional with our personal growth, we embrace the nature of the circumstance we find ourselves in and learn from it.