Get Out Of Your Own Way

Sometimes life sucks. Stuff happens. Things seem overwhelming and like they’ll never get better.

You have 4 options:

  1. Curl up in the fetal position and give up on your dreams.
  2. Whine about it for the rest of your life and blame all of your problems on it.
  3. Ignore how you feel and eventually explode.
  4. Let yourself grieve. Wallow in it. Feel all of it. Then get it together and keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time. You can climb an entire mountain one step at a time without even realizing it’s happening until you look behind you.

I’ve hit some hurdles in life. I’ve gotten really, really, really down. I hit a point that I felt like I was in a pit I could never get out of, and focusing on my career of choice was pointless because it could never happen due to everything else going on in my life. And you know what my mentor said to me when I said I just couldn’t do it?

“ You’re right. You can’t.”

It snapped me out of darkness mode long enough to get REALLY annoyed and I shot back, “Wow, thanks for all the support.”

The response?

“You are standing in the way of your own career. Get the hell out of your own way, and you’ll be able to achieve incredible things. In fact, I think you’ll be able to go further than your dreams are even targeting right now. Get up, dust yourself off, and get back to work. Standing still is a cop out. Take one step at a time and you’ll slowly move forward toward your goals. And then you’ll surpass them. Go ahead and feel bad for yourself for a while, but don’t get stuck there. Inch your way forward crawling, then start walking, then run. It’s possible, just stop standing still.”

I’ll admit I was kind of pissed. This person had no idea how much I’d been through, how low things had gotten, how much pain I was in. And you know what? After a while I realized that it didn’t matter. It was the best advice, both career wise and life wise, I’d ever received. So, I slowly got it together and started pushing. It felt like I wasn’t making ANY progress for years. but I kept moving. And slowly, snail pace things started to move in the right direction. And I kept taking small steps forward, a few back, and then bigger steps forward, and then all of a sudden I was on track, going for it. I’d finally gotten out of my own way.

So what I’m saying is this: If you’re feeling discouraged right now, and you’re losing hope, go ahead and feel bad about it. Cry it out, get angry, feel all the things—then slowly put yourself back together while you start moving forward. Even truly horrific circumstances can lead the way to incredible things if you just keep pushing instead of giving up.

So my challenge for you is this: Regardless of your current circumstance, get up (if you need to, do it slowly, but do it nonetheless), get out of your own way, and get back on track toward achieving your goals. You’ll be surprised how much easier the second step is after you’ve made that tough, draining, future defining first one.

It only takes one step to start moving in the right direction.

Work-Life Balance: Workaholic Designer Edition

workaholicI’m a workaholic. Finding a solid work-life balance has been a lifelong battle for me. My brain never shuts off, and I have a really hard time pulling myself away from something I’m passionate about. And it seems to be a REALLY common trait among designers, both the guys and women I’ve talked to in the industry. We work extremely hard, and that’s great… as long as we also take time to enjoy the fruits of that hard work.

I will NEVER forget the day my daughter walked into my office and asked me if we could play, and I snapped back, “I’m working overtime right now so you can have your toys and video games! Please stop interrupting me!”

Her face fell and her eyes welled up with tears, and she said very quietly, “I don’t care about those things. I care about spending time with you.”

And then my heart shattered into a million pieces and I took a step back. I asked myself 3 tough questions in that moment and thought they may help another workaholic realign in the future.

Workaholic Reset Questions

1. Why am I working overtime?

The answer? Because I wanted to. I didn’t NEED the money. It wasn’t going to make or break my financial situation. It would mean more cash in my savings account, which is fine and good, but I didn’t NEED the cash. There was a time in my life when I was working 3 jobs to survive and the OT was absolutely necessary, but that wasn’t the case at this point in my career. We were fine financially—I had worked my ass off for many, many years to get to that point. But I still had that lingering voice in the back of my mind telling me that I had to work myself into an early grave to live comfortably. It simply isn’t true.

2. Is the project I’m working on more important than my kid?

Obviously not. The reason I’m working is to provide an awesome life for my kiddo. Putting in crazy, uneccesary hours and missing her childhood was robbing her of one of the most important parts of that awesome life—quality time spent with a parent.

3. Will the entire project burst into flames if I step away for 15 minutes to play with my kid?

No. No, it won’t. Tight deadline? Still no.

As you’re pouring your heart and soul into your projects, don’t forget to keep some on tap to actually enjoy life. Spend time with family and friends. Life is short and kids grow up really, really fast.

Is adding some extra cash to your retirement fund really worth letting life completely pass you by?