Dealing With Fear As A Designer

Dealing With Fear As A Designer

I’d like to say that the world of design and business is all puppies and rainbows, but I’d be lying to you. Design careers have their challenges just like any other profession. Everyone experiences fear as a designer on some level. The difference in success and failure is how we deal with fear as a designer, and how me move past it. You have to move past it in order to succeed and land your dream job, or scoop up those dream clients for your own business. Let’s take a look at dealing with fear, and the things that hold us back, as well how how we can get past them.

dealing with fear as a designer

Fear of Failure

We all have it. Part of it is ego, part of it is just human nature. No one likes to try and fail at anything. Anyone who is remotely goal oriented wants to meet their goals and move on to the next thing. As designers, we all want to land a good job and utilize the degree we’ve earned or the talent we have. It’s normal to fear failing at your career, but you can easily conquer that fear by:

  1. Striving to learn new techniques each day.
  2. Staying on top of popular trends in design and culture.
  3. Absorbing and learning about different styles.
  4. Work on refining our skills and never settling or becoming complacent.
  5. Make good business connections.

Fear of Criticism

This one is the number one reason why designers fail. They shrink and hide at the idea of having their work criticized. Criticism is part of the job, and it’s something I wish they focused more on in school. Many students don’t think of criticism in terms of the client, but in terms of their grades. The problem is that they don’t understand that clients, colleagues and bosses will criticize their work on a daily basis. So how do we get over the fear of criticism?

  1. Learn to accept it as part of your daily work life.
  2. Realize that it isn’t personal, and that it is subjective.
  3. By realizing it is subjective, realize that it isn’t 100% truth.
  4. Learn to take all criticism with a grain of salt.
  5. Learn when and when to and when not to defend our work.
  6. Staying humble and checking our egos at the door.
  7. Approach design from a problem solving perspective.

Fear of being wrong

This one is a tough one for some. No one likes to be wrong. Whether you create a design that isn’t the best solution, or you misjudge a client’s taste, you’re never going to hit the mark 100% of the time. You’re going to be battling a lot of different outside factors, like tight deadlines, unreasonable client expectations, stubborn bosses and colleagues, and so much more. You can get over this fear by realizing:

  1. Every business and problem is different.
  2. Clients are not always right.
  3. Neither is your boss or coworkers.
  4. You can’t please everyone 100% of the time.
  5. Clients don’t always understand the difference between what they want and what they need.
  6. Sometimes you get outvoted, especially is you’re working on a team, or working with a board or committee.

dealing with fear as a designer - hating your job

Fear of Hating Your … Job?

It’s true! I went through school with people who excelled at design, and were way better than I was. They were creative, with awesome solutions to every project that came along. However, by the time they graduated, a lot of them said they were not going to pursue a job in design after graduation,  because their hearts just weren’t in it. Many people fear that they’ll end up actually hating their job, or that they’ll waste all of that time they invested to end up back at the drawing board again. How can you handle this?

  1. Do a few internships while you are in school. I know it will be tough, with school work and all, but it will benefit you in the long run. You’ll get to see if it’s something you really enjoy, plus it will give you tons of real world experience at the same time.
  2. Make your career fit your ideal lifestyle. I hated being an in-house designer. I don’t like the idea of having a boss, or being told when to work, where, or how. I don’t like being micro-managed, and I like working closely with clients. It’s easier to design for a business when you know the owner, their tastes, their likes and dislikes, their goals, etc. I like owning my own business so much more!
  3. If you do work in-house, it can boil down to finding the right team to work with. It’s all about atmosphere and working environment.

Final Thoughts

Fear and doubt is something we all deal with. It’s not easy to cope with, especially when you’re new to the field of design. Even with a degree you can have fear and doubt in your abilities.No matter what you’re afraid of, you’ll have to conquer it in order to reach your full potential.

What do you struggle with? What kinds of fears are you battling when it comes to design and your career?