Let’s be honest; designers are in the industry of endless feedback and iterations. We are the people who constantly look back and question, “How can I make this better?” It’s our second nature.
Will we ever be 100% happy with our work? Most of us repeatedly go through this tiresome cycle of discovering great ideas just to later admit that it wasn’t the best idea. Even though it’s a job that we love and are passionate about, it’s hard for us to feel satisfied on a daily basis because of the nature of what we do and who we are. Because creativity is a never-ending process, we all need a something we can accomplish and achieve in our own time to feel satisfied.
Here are three important reasons why doing side projects and accomplishing short-term goals will help you stay motivated and happy creatively.
1. To feel a sense of accomplishment. Critique is the most essential part of the design process. It comes from your colleagues, boss, customers, clients, and ultimately from yourself. It is our second nature to constantly ask and wonder if it’s the best option or even to question it. It’s our second nature to constantly ask and wonder if it’s the best option or even to question it. It is essential, yet sometimes this is what elongates the process. Side projects allow you to eliminate different sources of critique and focus on creating something that fulfills your soul. Because of the nature of our industry, sometimes just getting something done is very rewarding. I remember Stephen Gates, Creative Director at Citibank, speaking about his side projects, which included creating a podcast, public speaking and even cooking dinner after long day of work. He said, “You don’t get everything you need to be happy creatively just from your job.” To me, as occasionally as possible, I get into puzzles, practicing a new piano music piece and even putting Legos together.
“You don’t get everything you need to be happy creatively just from your job.”
— Stephen Gates
2. To channel out your silliest—yet most brilliant—ideas. Have you ever stayed quiet during a brainstorm meeting because whatever you thought of sounded stupid to share with other people? Or shot down random idea that came up while driving to work? It’s time to stop that, because this is where you shine. For instance, I thought of an app that shares inspirational quotes. As silly as it sounded to me, I actually created the visual brand and few UI designs just to satisfy my curiosity of how it could look. I didn’t even care if it was the most brilliant idea or not. There’s no fear of failure in side projects; instead, you might rather be surprised how successful it could be because you can work on it without feeling limited, exploring all the possibilities.
3. To expand your skill sets and experiment. There’s a great article I came across that says, “...but it’s also important to be our own client sometimes, and have side projects that push new skills, flex our creative muscles, and give us testing grounds for new and innovative ideas.” The creative industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors. Designers are in survival mode to constantly learn and adapt to new technology and skills. It’s really important not only to practice your current skills, but also to be on the lookout for what’s coming down the pipeline in the creative field.
Designers are people who endlessly think about making things better in our surroundings. There’s no off-switch button. But one of the most effective ways to feel happy creatively is to channel that out by doing side projects that are meaningful and inspiring to us. Ultimately—by doing so—we’ll live a life that’s more than just our work, which can only bring a different perspective and positive impact to our daily job.