If there’s one challenge that a lot of designers face, it’s the lack of confidence. It’s not about their egos or their pride, although this is often the misconception. When designers refuse to show their work or receive feedback, it’s not always because they’re too proud. More often than not, it’s because of their lack of confidence.
Of course, you can’t live like this forever. One important part of being a good designer is having the ability to connect with potential clients. If you shy away from them, they’ll think that you’re difficult to work with. Even worse, they may see your lack of confidence as a sign that you’re just not worthy to work on their project.
To help you build that confidence as a designer, here are a few tips you need to start following.
1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Most of the time, the lack of self-confidence comes when you focus too much on the things you don’t do well. This is exactly why you need to start listing down the things you’re great at, and the things you need further improvement on.
Be honest with yourself. Some people tend to feel frustrated when they start thinking about areas that they just can’t do perfectly. But even the best of the best have their own Achilles’ heel. It’s all about knowing what you’re good at and focusing on that. Once you realize how strong you are in those areas, it’s easier to build your confidence. Just make sure you don’t put aside the areas you’re not good at. Designing should not keep you stagnant – rather, it should push you to evolve as a professional. Continue working on improving on the areas you find challenging, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself adding them to your “Strengths” list.
2. Stop comparing yourself to the best.
It’s okay to have role models in the field. They can serve as inspiration as you try to find your own style and approach. However, if you start beating your head over the fact that you can’t imitate the way they do things, that’s where the problem starts. That’s where your confidence starts to go down.
Remember that you are your own person. You can’t keep comparing yourself to others and expect to get great results. You can adapt their best practices, and find inspiration in the work that they do. But never ever compare yourself to them. They may be the best now, but there was a time when they were starting out just like you. And if you start working on improving who you are as an artist instead of putting yourself down, one day, you may find yourself being ranked ahead of them, right at the very top.
3. Never stop practicing.
Feeling frustrated about your output? Then don’t stop practicing! Stopping every so often will only cause you to lose that steady stream of creative juice. You have to keep it going. The more work you produce, the more mistakes you’ll make, and hopefully, the more lessons you’ll learn. If you keep stopping, it’s like starting all over again each and every time. When this happens, you definitely cannot be as proud of your work as you should be.
4. Get feedback.
A lot of people avoid feedback because they feel that it’s only going to cause them to dig a deeper grave for themselves. In reality however, getting feedback is the best way for you to hone your craft and push you to become more confident in what you do.
Negative feedback? Take this constructively. Stop feeling offended with every bad remark you receive, because whether you admit it or not, your work has its own share of imperfections. The moment you admit to having these imperfections, you also open opportunities for you to improve your craft. Look at these negative comments and try to figure out how to improve your work. And once you see the improvement, it should be easier to pull yourself up.
Positive feedback? Enough said. These are the very things that could bring your spirit up.
5. Set clear, attainable goals.
When you have no clear goal to work for, how do you expect to celebrate milestones you’ve reached? Achievements are always the best way to make yourself feel proud.
Of course, these goals should not just be any random goal you think of right off the bat. Make them too easy, and you’ll lose that sense of great accomplishment. Make them too difficult, and you’ll find your confidence dipping even lower than before.
Make sure your goal is realistic, with clear timelines set for you to easily gauge your performance. Once you start crossing those goals off your list as you attain them one by one, your confidence would be soaring high for sure.
6. Get paid PROPERLY.
Some designers go for any random project they see, most of them either pro bono or with unreasonable compensation. Sadly, this is one of the fastest ways for you to lose confidence in what you do. By putting a lower value on the kind of work you do, you also start seeing yourself as someone who is not worthy of getting paid more.
Look at your own work and start getting paid the right amount for it. Stop selling yourself short.
7. Build a seamless design process.
Through the course of your work, you’ll start to realize that some systems just don’t work for you, while some others make you more effective. Weed through all these and start creating your own design process.
List everything down – from how you do your research, to how you deliver the final output. Experiment and play around with the cycle. And once you’re found the perfect mix that allows you to deliver the best possible results, you can become more confident in the work you do. You can proudly say that your process is tried-and-tested, and will not fail you no matter what.
8. Trust your design process.
Now that you have a design process that works, the next step is to trust it with everything you’ve got.
No matter how effective your design process may be, if you don’t trust it with your whole heart, then nothing good will come out of it. Start trusting your design process a bit more so that you can gain confidence not only in your output, but in yourself as well.
9. Know your purpose.
The moment you lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing, you also lose all sense of who you are as a designer.
Always remember where your passion lies. The moment you make that your sole focus, you become more motivated to do well. This, in turn, also makes your work even better that ever, boosting your confidence to unbelievable heights.
When your confidence slides down, you also risk sacrificing the quality of your work. By knowing how to pull yourself up from this slump, you also empower yourself to become the best designer you can ever be.
Don’t rely on others to motivate you to do the best you can. No one else can push you to do better than yourself, because no one else knows you better.
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Beat procrastination with these 21 reminders
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