If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here to read about the first two lessons I learnt from living and working in London for a Global Design Agency.
This is hands down THE most important lesson I have learnt as a designer so far. I never fully realised the impact of managing expectations until starting my current job last August. I realised that I was the person in control of how long any task would take me to complete. That sounds utterly ridiculous but designers who are more senior than you will have an idea of how long something should take you to do but they may not realise what else you have been asked to do for another project for example. Previously I wasn’t entirely sure how long things would take me to complete so I would accept the deadlines given without giving it a second thought.
Now though, even if I’m not sure how long something will take me I will over estimate it to make sure I have the best opportunity to over deliver. I would rather do this than over promise, under deliver and get stressed out for not completing everything on time.
In my first few months as a designer I struggled to know how long a task would take me to complete (and that’s perfectly ok by the way!!), which is why the skill of managing people’s expectations doesn’t happen overnight.
Dedication and a Thick Skin
Being a designer is no easy feat. To start with there is a lot to take in in a really short space of time and then client meetings and feedback from managers get added on top of that. I remember the first time I received bad feedback from a very important client… And to be honest with you, I felt crushed because of the amount of time and effort I had put into the proposal, for it to then be turned upside down in a matter of minutes. We then had a really tight turn around time between that first meeting and the client’s meeting with their CEO. It took a hell of a lot of dedication and determination to pull the work back together in a way the client wanted to share with their CEO. I could have quite easily accepted defeat and backed down completely but it’s not in my nature to quit so I stuck with the task at hand and wouldn’t accept anything less than perfect.
I definitely learnt the hard way that negative feedback doesn’t have to be a bad thing and it’s more constructive than anything else. I have this perfectionist streak that makes it hard to accept bad comments as constructive. By taking a few minutes out of the chaos to evaluate the feedback and change my attitude and mindset towards the comments really helps me refocus to the original task.
One thing is for sure, when you receive that good feedback and really positive response from a client – that feeling is worth all the temporary struggle to get there.
Developing My Mindset
As a top level explanation, mindset is a set of beliefs that you hold as a person. This could be about life in general, success, what happiness is to you – basically everything you believe in. It’s almost like your attitude towards certain circumstances. It is ultimately how we adapt and deal with situations life throws at us.
To start with, I didn’t work on my mindset at all. I didn’t really know what it actually was to work on your mindset and what sort of impact it would have on my work and overall attitude to life and the way I was living. It was through following some female entrepreneurs on Instagram and Facebook that I was opened to seeing the benefits of working on your mindset.
There are many different ways you can work on your mindset that I will go into more detail in separate posts later, but I started working on my mindset to help me deal with stress better – in work and also living in the city. To do this, I would read books that focus on positive thinking – in particular The Secret by Rhonda Bryne had the biggest switch in my attitude towards life and really got me to evaluate what was really important to me. I would also watch motivational videos on YouTube every morning.
There was a six month period last year where I flipped my whole life upside down and did a complete 180. It’s from the lessons I’ve shared in this two part series, and in particular, working on my mindset and establishing my life values that I was able to start living my best life. I want to share with you more about how I was able to do this, and how you can too, in my next post.
Until next time,