my principles #1 – I am a designer

Watercolour of a cave at sunset

The reason for the delay for the February post is that I wanted to write about my principles, or mantras in a way, and the post turned out to be longer than I imagined. Ideas that I try to tell myself every day and live by best as possible. Some are new, some have sunk in. Blurting them out without any explanation will not be of any help to anyone. So, I am going stretch them out, starting with: (The following ideas are inspired by a german motivational coach named Alex Fischer.)

#1 – I am a designer
#2 – live extroverted

Tell yourself who you are! Get rid of distractions and everything that you are not.

1. The basic question(s)
Who are you / What do you want to be? What do you do / What do you want to do? What do you have / What do you want to have? Did you ever ask yourself these basic questions? They are important. They define you. You should be able to answer them on the spot. For most people, they are neither asked nor answered properly. Nowadays, people seem to only deal with the question of what they want to have and answer that question with what they are willing to do to get it. That is it. Lesser people ask themselves who they want to be. I guess you already know what I mean but still, here is a negative example: I want to have money, therefore I have to work. Great! The purpose of life explained. You got some money, so you are happy, right? 🙂 I hope you feel that this is totally off. The most important question is missing! The one that tells you about who you are, what your goals are, why those goals are your goals and the question about how you want to reach your goals (like deep values, e.g. legally).

The questions have to be asked in the order above. Or only by the first one: If you decide who you are, what you need to do and what you need to have come naturally. Here is a positive example: You are a guitarist. To be a guitarist you need to play the guitar. To play the guitar you need a guitar. Simple, right?

In comparison, negative: There is a guitar in your room, so you can play if you want to. Hmmm… fulfilling.
Positive: There is a guitar in the room and to be who you are, to be a guitarist, you only need to reach out a little bit and play. Aaaah… much better. What example shows you a lower boundary to actually playing the guitar? This difference in perspective, by asking ‘who are you?’ first, affects your motivation deep down.

2. Motivation
The word “work” itself has a bad connotation. It always sounds kind of repulsive. Do you know the phrase: “do something that you love than it does not feel like work”? How about this one: “you are not yourself if you do not do what you love”. Not only does that make you accept the fact that work is a part of you but also that work is never over. Work is something that defines you. You are what you do. You see, work is not a bad thing. And if you let it soak through your daily life the bad connotation will change in unexpected ways. Here are personal examples:
I am a designer. I produce designs and art. I see things with different eyes. I learned to see inspirations everywhere. I can not even watch a movie without analysing graphics, scenes, quotes… but that is ok. I learn from it and I learn from other designers. It is my obligation to learn more about art and therefore learn more about myself. To feel obligated to my true nature is a much better motivator than money. And the truth is when I stick to my true nature, money comes in naturally, as well. Slowly, but steady. I work on myself, my skills and try to learn a lot on the side of my fulltime job. When people tell me I work too much I take it as a compliment. It reminds me, that I am still on track, on my way to live my dream.

3. In practice
I want to take a closer look at the second question. What do you do? As a freelancing designer, you also are an accountant, an IT guy, a salesman and much more. You are not 100% you. Your obligation is to be a designer. That counts for the situation where you work a random day job and your dream job on the side or for the other way around, as well. When you shift your energy from who you are to who you are not you immediately feel the drain. Do you know the feeling when you work on a design you have that accountant thing bugging inside your head? Damn, you can not concentrate on what really makes you who you are. To demonstrate you can actually do the math:

Who you are – what you do = your efficiency factor
If 52% of you works on a job that represents who you are and 48% of you works on another job, your outcome is 4%. The remaining 96% is conflict!

Take a minute and think about your day today. How many hours did you work on something that represents you? How many hours did you spend on distractions? Not very satisfactory? You know, we live in a connected world. Maybe it is a good idea to outsource some things that are just not you. Also, change what you can change and accept what you can not change. Trying to change something or someone who can not be changed drains a lot of energy, too.

I think I gave you guys a good description of why I think it is so important to tell yourself who you are on a daily basis. Work hard on yourself to reach your 100%. I myself am not there yet. But…

I am a designer!