If you want to improve as a designer – whether that’s skill, money or career wise. It all starts with progress and learning. One of the most underrated skills I believe is resourcefulness and a willingness to learn. The best people I’ve ever worked with or worked for, were always constantly learning and improving. Whenever you take action it means experience is being gained and every moment is an opportunity for growth. Learning and growing is one of the most fulfilling aspects of life and also being a designer. I quit my job 2 years ago as a Creative Director — it was a job that I loved very much. But towards the latter end of that 5 year stretch I wasn’t learning as much anymore - creatively I wasn’t happy so I knew I had to reset.
Looking back it was my thirst for learning that lead me to some of my successes. I was like a sponge in those early years. I didn’t think about making lots of money, fancy job titles or cool clients. I just enjoyed working, learning and creating the best work that I could do. It was also when I had the biggest struggles, but on the opposite end of that, it was when I had my biggest victories and sense of achievement. I had a lot of fun because everything was new and an adventure. If you want to advance your career, improve your life, be a better person. It all starts with learning and taking action towards whatever goal you have.
Climbing mount everest starts with a single step. And progress starts with a single action however small it may seem. Stop and remember to enjoy the view every once in a while, but keep moving.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out
Little things make big things happen. So think about what it is that you want to do? Want to be a better designer? Want to be happier? Want to make more money? Actualise these things by learning. The internet has made learning so much easier – there are millions of articles, resources, videos and books out there for you to access. And most of them are free. The more you focus on a goal the easier it will be to reach it. It’s the classic Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours rule. The more you learn about 1 topic the more of an expert you will become. For myself I’m in no rush so I just like to learn different things, yet somehow they always teach me something about creating better work, building a better business and being a better person.
So I would love for you to take a challenge with me. Try to learn at least 1 new thing a week for the next 20 weeks.
When you’re at work and working on a new project, try to do something that you’ve never done before. Whether that’s stylistically or how you approach the project for example.
Somewhere along the way you’re going to face road blocks and that’s OK.
1. Excuses. I do it all the time. The first step is to recognise it, acknowledge it and see if you can trick yourself into just getting started.
2. Not enough time - I missed out on last weeks post because of this. I was too busy with the launch of the Process Masterclass but the reality is that I didn’t manage my time well. I probably procrastinated somewhere along the way and played Pokemon Go instead of writing. I stuff up just like everyone else so don’t fret it if you jump off the wagon for a bit. If this happens and you didn’t learn anything in that week you may lose a bit of momentum. But it’s OK jump back on it the next week. Try to set a schedule so that time is dedicated to growth and learning. I may have missed writing last weeks article but I’m damned as hell not going to miss this weeks! Because look you’re reading it haha.
3. 20 weeks is a long time. If you laser in on what you want to achieve in 20 weeks it can serve as motivation and being consistent. If you want to earn more money you could devote the 20 weekly things you learn to be about marketing, pay rise negotiation techniques, value creation, building passive income etc. And by the end of it you should have the tools and skills necessary to hit your goal of earning more. Seems simple but little things make big things happen.
10 months ago I didn’t know how to build a course or build an audience for a personal brand. I learnt new things everyday, I learnt from people who had done what I wanted to do. I listened to their advice, reverse engineered the steps, fumbled along and then made it happen.
10 months later I built a course and an audience. I also became my own biggest client and earned a healthy chunk of income from all the things I’d learnt. I created something I was passionate about, for an audience I cared about and could bring value to.
I love learning and creating things. I think that will always be a theme of my life and career. I will always be a designer but I love re-invention. I want my career and work to be about creating work I was proud of regardless of the medium. And that’s something I really admired about Hillman Curtis career.
In the end I want you to have fun with growth. Learn about things that interest you, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Just put in a conscious effort for progress and to show up weekly. At the end of the day happiness and wellbeing is number one. And the goals and things you choose can be simple. You can log weekly and keep track in your notebook or use this google spreadsheet that I use.
To give you some encouragement I will share with you what I learnt this week.
Week 1. This week I started learning about Principles new component feature. Now that I’ve started reading about it I plan to put it into action and use this in a project. As well as adding it as a lesson to my class for my students.
I suck at keeping plants so I learn’t how to setup an automatic irrigation system. After leaving on a few trips and returning only to see all my plants dead I decided to try something else. So I watched a few videos and searched up all the parts I’d needed to build an automatic irrigation system for my balcony. So I’ll be working on building it next week. Totally not related to design, but as long as I’m learning it doesn’t have to be topic specific. You’ll be surprised how these experiences will help us with our work when we least suspect it.
Be forever curious, be a sponge and keep learning.