Brothers and Sisters, Design Your Frickin’ Life

 

I can’t tell you how many designers I know who are existing from paycheck to paycheck and doing work they are ashamed of.

It’s a strange thing, really, because even though they might design graphics or magazine layouts or couture clothing or whatever, the same skill sets apply to designing ANYTHING, including an ideal lifestyle.

Consider this: to be a good designer is to be a good problem solver. When a designer creates a graphic, they are creating it so that something can be explained. For some reason that graphic needs to exist because there is a concept that can be most easily conveyed to the target audience by that kind of graphic done just so.

If this is not the case, that graphic should not exist, and a graphic designer is not necessary. Perhaps a typeface designer, to help make the characters more legible? Or a layout designer, who will be able to design the page in such a way that the important parts are the focus? Or hell, maybe the problem is best solved by designing a runway show and then doing a photography feature from the show.

The bottom line is that problem solving is in the designer’s blood (or should be…if it isn’t, then a new profession might be a good choice), and therefore there’s absolutely no excuse for any designer to be living a life they don’t enjoy to the fullest.

That’s right, I said it. If you are a designer and you are not where you want to be, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and stop making excuses. No one is going to tell you how to live your life the way you want, because everyone wants something different. No one can tell you how to get there, either, and that’s why you’re going to be so good at this: being creative people, designers are the perfect kind of person to innovate in order to get to where they want to be.

One of the big differences between designers and artists (and there are many differences) is that designers tend to have a bit more rational, real-worldness to them. No disrespect to artists, of course, but generally the fine arts tend to be more hopeful and idealistic, while the design world is a haven for the more practical creatives.

This is a huge benefit when it comes to shaping the world around you so that your will is made manifest. It’s one thing to be able to conceive of how things could be, but another all together to be able to act upon that goal in a practical way. Designers are absolutely BUILT for this. It’s how we’re put together. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

So take a good long look at yourself and the world around you. Do some mental sketching of how things could and should be, and then start laying down your framework for changing it.

The only person standing in your way is you. Like in the design world, you can borrow liberally from other designers around you, but make sure that your final product is customized for you, because living someone else’s dream can be just as bad as never pursuing your own.

15 comments

  1. Love this.

    I recently made the decision to stop calling myself a “designer.” My plan is to design a new job description for myself that encompasses all my talents and interests. I have chosen the term “new media creative.” I’m essentially trying to design a new job for myself, one that doesn’t exist yet.

    I figured the same thing as you. If I can design shapes and graphics, what is stopping me from designing a career or a lifestyle. The same principles apply.

    Wish me luck.

  2. Love this.

    I recently made the decision to stop calling myself a “designer.” My plan is to design a new job description for myself that encompasses all my talents and interests. I have chosen the term “new media creative.” I’m essentially trying to design a new job for myself, one that doesn’t exist yet.

    I figured the same thing as you. If I can design shapes and graphics, what is stopping me from designing a career or a lifestyle. The same principles apply.

    Wish me luck.

  3. Designing a life seems like such a huge task…like it could take a lifetime to accomplish. Good thing cause that means we all have something exciting to look forward to…the incredible future we have in our hands and minds.

  4. Designing a life seems like such a huge task…like it could take a lifetime to accomplish. Good thing cause that means we all have something exciting to look forward to…the incredible future we have in our hands and minds.

  5. Colin, you’ve got it!
    Design is taking a concept and making it happen. It doesn’t matter what that concept is, pick it apart, map it out and make small noticeable steps to accomplish it.
    Lifestyle design seems so daunting until you know that the secret is simply asking ourselves what our ultimate self needs. If you can see in your minds eye what you want then take it out of your head and put it on paper. I love making visual maps on my office wall to see what it is I want to achieve. Seeing truly is believing.

  6. Colin, you’ve got it!
    Design is taking a concept and making it happen. It doesn’t matter what that concept is, pick it apart, map it out and make small noticeable steps to accomplish it.
    Lifestyle design seems so daunting until you know that the secret is simply asking ourselves what our ultimate self needs. If you can see in your minds eye what you want then take it out of your head and put it on paper. I love making visual maps on my office wall to see what it is I want to achieve. Seeing truly is believing.

  7. “One of the big differences between designers and artists (and there are many differences) is that designers tend to have a bit more rational, real-worldness to them. No disrespect to artists, of course, but generally the fine arts tend to be more hopeful and idealistic, while the design world is a haven for the more practical creatives.”

    I like this–in it’s literal sense and as an analogy.

    I think that a lot of people have vision or follow through, but there aren’t so many who have both: designers.

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  9. @Kristin: Don’t make me fight you.

    @James: Good luck James! Sounds like you won’t need it though!

    @Geoffrey: Amen to that, brother.

    @Caron: Totally. It’s one of those concepts that is so simple it seems like it must be terribly complicated.

    @Simple in France: Right, it’s tough to find a good combination. Unfortunately, a lot of people who have the potential to make serious life changes for the better don’t because they tend to limit themselves in what they THINK they can do.

  10. @Kristin: Don’t make me fight you.

    @James: Good luck James! Sounds like you won’t need it though!

    @Geoffrey: Amen to that, brother.

    @Caron: Totally. It’s one of those concepts that is so simple it seems like it must be terribly complicated.

    @Simple in France: Right, it’s tough to find a good combination. Unfortunately, a lot of people who have the potential to make serious life changes for the better don’t because they tend to limit themselves in what they THINK they can do.

  11. YES! Same for content writers. Being owned to do something you don’t love to make a paycheck gets really disappointing. When I was little and was good at drawing, I never looked forward to drawing cartoons or working for an illustrating; I just never liked that idea. When I was in highschool and started writing, I never wanted to write for other people’s endeavors, I always just wanted to write novels.

    Although, I’ll be honest. When I got my first writing job for a website company writing content and articles, I thought it was the most perfect thing ever.

    But it’s not. It still puts a damper on my passions.

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