Success is completely relative to your particular situation. For me, success was determined if I brought home a paycheck every two weeks. I was reluctant to open my eyes to the key factors that enabled those funds to be transferred to my account every two weeks. I reported to a job Monday through Friday and performed a series of tasks and duties that may or may not have affected the big picture. The only excitement was when shit broke and we all scrambled to figure out why the damn website went down or why our code was not working.
Having worked with many talented and unique individuals over the years and watching them move on to further enhance their careers opened my eyes to my own downfalls. I set firm goals and wrote down (yes, with an old-fashioned pen and paper) what I was really regarding as requirements for my life and a career going forward, and how could these two things live in the same world.
These were firm realistic goals that I could see myself actually fulfilling. I have now moved on and now working for Revenue River, a great digital marketing agency that instills all of the requirements I set for myself in work and life.
Here is a high-level view of how I enhanced my work-life balance while improving overall well-being in life. I finally got my WIN! (& you can too if you follow these 6 tips!)
1) Live to work – don't work to live
Cliché alert….Easier said than done right? If you’re a pessimistic bastard, then yes.
This is a marriage that needs to be balanced and practiced. We all have personal life events that cannot be predicted or requested on an Outlook calendar. Employers need to be flexible and entrust responsibility to their employees to make wise adult decisions while balancing workloads and deliverables.
We have a saying where I work “Work by the compass, not the clock.” This way of thinking can translate though work and life. We exhibit less stress when planning our weekends and generally always find a way to get things done, so why can’t we plan deadlines and workloads to work with and around client needs?
2) Practice consistent behavior in both work & personal life
Be true to yourself in keeping calendar appointments you set and sticking to them. When planning your calendar, don't just plan for your work schedule. I've found that it's best to leave ample time for family, friends, and yourself.
Things will come easier if you stay organized and punctual. It inspires a "get shit done" mentality, and you will see a big difference in your overall productivity.
With all this said, it's critical to be disciplined when it comes to your schedule. If you're not, it only means that you're failing to keep an appointment with yourself.
3) Be a professional & don’t get butthurt
Ok, you got some bad feedback because you don’t read minds. You dropped the ball on a deliverable. Or best yet, your director said your designs are not on brand. Pouting in the corner, having an empty apology, or pointing blame to get your ass out of the spotlight will not solve any problems or gain yourself any big boy points. In fact, it'll do a lot more hurting than helping.
When this happens, try being an adult and a professional by accepting the fact that those mistakes happen and will happen again. It's best to find a way to learn from these mistakes. After all, criticism should be looked at as helpful and free advice. It is all how it is delivered and received.
Be prepared to take criticism and don’t take it personally. If the criticism is packaged and delivered properly, you stand to gain valuable insight that will benefit you greatly. If you had that crystal ball or the pocket guide to all things design I would call bullshit.
4) Don’t fear the failure
Failing at anything sucks. We all want the feel-good vibe of nailing it the first time, but that's an unrealistic expectation. If you've done your due diligence, research, and have even consulted with your team, then take a chance and be confident in your work. If it doesn't end up with your desired outcome then you should embrace that failure. It very well may lead to important lessons learned that tend to show up throughout the lifecycle of a project or your career.
Being comfortable with failure may just be a bump in the road or it could stem into a complete disaster. In the design industry, it's our job to create compelling, user-friendly designs that people admire, but we don’t always get it right. We strive to apply our experience and what we've learned to produce and deliver an overall better end design.
5) Have a plan & stick the landing
Have a five-year goal. I don’t just mean how much money you want to be pulling in five years, although that, in reality, is an important factor. It's more important to look at where you are currently in your career and try to self-project five years’ time. Set realistic and measurable goals and stick to them.
It's important to understand that the term “realistic” is often thrown around and can be applied differently from person to person. Look at your current situation and ask questions like:
- Is there room for career growth or have I hit a plateau?
- If I was offered a promotion, what form would it take?
- Am I encouraged to professionally develop myself?
- Am I gaining applicable experience from my tenure?
- My favorite—am I excited and passionate doing my job?
Don’t become complacent and idle. By setting realistic goals you have a far better chance of meeting them. Measure the ups and downs throughout your career so that you may make adjustments and right the ship as needed.
6) Be dynamic & cutting edge
By being adaptable and willing to stay current will offer more benefits than downfalls. Use tools and applications that enable your team to work more efficiently. Suggest new ways of doing things or how existing processes may be enhanced or axed. This doesn’t mean you jump at every new shiny thing that comes your way. Design fundamentals may be instilled in your brain from years of instruction and repetition, but make yourself aware and be willing to try new things.
Follow other successful designers to give yourself a wide array of trends and styles to gain inspiration from. In life, this could be trying new things, taking a different route to work, having a shower beer to unwind for the first time in a while, or by spending more quality time with friends and family.
By allowing yourself step back and see the world with new eyes once in a while will present you with a fresh new perspective in your surroundings that will most definitely translate over throughout your life and career. While these tips to work harder are just suggestions that I have personally lived and learned over the years, I know for a fact that they work for me. I only these tips helps someone through some of the tough and sometimes difficult decisions that we all make with the greatest of intentions in our careers and personal lives.