Gratitude as a designer
Issue 86: There is a lot to be thankful for in this profession
I'm focusing on being more intentional about expressing gratitude. The past few years for many people have been difficult and it may feel like there is nothing to be grateful for and thankful for. Thus, this is why we need gratitude more than ever. In times of resilience or adversity, it can feel delusional to express gratitude. Being thankful is not going to fix the world's problems, close the gaps in your personal challenges, or make the imperfect, perfect. However, it is a way to focus on perspective to keep going. One of On Deck's guiding values is Gratitude:
"Have a spirit of curiosity and gratitude. We’re bringing together a group of fascinating people, most of whom likely have never met each other…how amazing is that? Get to know each other, and make the cohort what you want it to be for yourself."
Expressing gratitude is a personal endeavor. Nobody can tell you how to be grateful except for yourself. Being grateful for being a designer can feel hard right now. We've fought for years to get a seat at the table in the business, our work may not feel as recognized as technical work or building, and the way we're rewarded is a reflection of how industries and companies view us. As you get more senior and tenured in your career, the more jaded you're going to feel.
The litany of gratitude
I'm grateful to be a designer because:
Ever since I was a kid, I love to draw, and can't believe drawing is a core skill for what I do
I get to interact with humans, both customers and business operators
Design is now seen as a differentiator for companies, and this is just the beginning of our potential
We can take abstract ideas and make it tangible
Most importantly, I get paid to do design and make a living out of it. I never thought this would be possible for me.
Even listing a few bullet points helped me feel centered and re-motivated. Don't get it twisted, I'll get a huge dose of reality on Monday going back to work, as you may. However, if you practice gratitude frequently, it'll keep you going through the crucible of being a designer.
The "reframing with gratitude" exercise
I've made a framework for myself in moments where I feel frustrated or overwhelmed. It's similar to the "bad ideas" design thinking exercise where you
Hypothetical problem: Designers have to do everything from customer research, ideation, wireframes, defining requirements, supporting the building, quality assurance, and usability testing.
Reframing with gratitude: Design is so important that it touches everything
I want to be abundantly clear that this reframing exercise helps provide perspective and is not an excuse to justify understaffing. "I have to do everything" is much different from "I get to do everything." Remember, gratitude helps center and re-focus and is not an excuse to leave problems unsolved.
Make gratitude a daily design ritual
Big things start small. If you don't know where to begin with expressing gratitude, keep it dead simple. When you wake up in the morning, say to yourself what you're grateful for as a designer. It may be a project you're working on or an awesome co-worker you love working with. If you're inspired to do so, write and share the gratitude. If you ever feel stressed or burned out from being a designer, try taking a moment to express gratitude as a way to re-center yourself.
I’m so grateful to be a designer.
Tweet of the week
Speaking of reframing, I love Figma’s April Fun Day.
What I read this week (reading does not mean endorsements)