January is a time for new ideas and fresh starts. But when was the last time you included a few goals for your career on your list of resolutions? Here are a few ways you can give your skills, your practice, or just your outlook a boost in the new year.
Define Your Goals.
Are you where you want to be in your career? Are there steps you can take in your current job to make it your dream job? Or do you need to take a bigger leap? Don’t hold yourself back – make this year the one that moves you forward.
Be a Mentor.
Think back to when you first began identifying yourself as a “designer.” What skills, knowledge, or tips would have come in handy back then? Whether you’re a student, an entry-level or senior designer, chances are there’s someone you know who could use some advice. So give reach out to them first – they may be scared to ask!
Update your portfolio.
It’s so easy to go months (ok, years) without grabbing some screenshots and photos of your best work and adding to your portfolio. Make this the year you keep on top of it.
Do a pro-bono project.
Find an organization that you support and ask if there’s any design work they could use. Whether it’s a logo, a poster, a tee shirt, an event graphic, or an email newsletter, it will be greatly appreciated and help make an impact in the community.
Keep a sketchbook.
I know, many of us have long forgotten how to take actual notes, since our lives have become so digital. But it can be so satisfying to have a written record of your thoughts, and a great reference for ideas you have in the spur of a moment. So pick up some blanks, and give it a try!
Try something new.
We all have our strengths – our go-to methods for problem solving or design approach. Try to step away from that. Learn about a process you’ve never tried, then see if it could turn out to be something you really enjoy!
Design something for yourself.
When was the last time you saw a great method for printmaking, or painting, or hand lettering, and thought to yourself – I could totally do that. Well, do it. Make that shirt for yourself. Hang that painting on your wall. Not only will you put your own skills to good use, you may discover a passion you never knew you had.
Learn to say no.
How many side projects are you handling right now for friends, family, or coworkers that are never going to earn you a dime but somehow need to be done immediately? Respect your own time and effort, and learn to (gently!) say no once in a while.
Make a dream client wish list.
Is there an organization or company that you love, but hate their branding? Or maybe one whose design you adore and you’d love to be a part of their creative team? It’s fun to dream, guys. Jot them down, and keep the list somewhere that will inspire you.
Become more involved in the Design community.
AIGA is a wonderful resource for designers and creative professionals of every level – and you never know what opportunities may arise when you swap ideas with your creative peers. So join us!
Do you have any design-related goals I missed? Please share them below!
Lydia Kuekes is a senior designer at Cuberis, where she has practiced since 2009. She strives to create work that is concept-driven and visually engaging, while creating custom solutions for each client’s unique functionality needs and today’s various devices.