The new year is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to come up with your new year resolutions and goals if you haven’t already! In this article I compiled some ideas that will help you stay motivated and inspired as well as further your design career goals in 2016. So let’s dive in!

Learn to say no

Learning to say no in a graceful and diplomatic way is the best skill you can acquire in 2016. Just because you love design, doesn’t mean it’s your hobby or that you should be open to every project coming into your way. The litmus test for most designers is Time, Passion & Money. And as it goes you need at least 2 of them to have any chance of success! Consider these questions:

  • Do you really have enough time to work on this project?
  • Do you find the project interesting and engaging to do your best work?
  • Will you be compensated appropriately for the effort and energy you will be putting on this project?

If you answered yes in only one of the three (or at none) then the odds are completely against you. Most likely the project will be a waste of your time and energy.

Spend time with the people you love

It’s easy, especially if you are freelancer, to blend your personal and your work life to a point you can no longer see any difference. That will burn you out faster than you can say “Freelancer”! Well maybe not that fast, but still you get the point! Set standard work hours or standard hours of work if you prefer. But however you do it, draw the line before you cause irreversible damage both to yourself and your relationships.

Spend time with yourself

Practice introspection and meditation. It not necessary to sit in a lotus position or assume the tree yoga stance. Just contemplate on your own thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Stop reacting to what is urgent and think of what is actually important to YOU. Make sure you are still en route of fulfilling your longterm goals and dreams.

Start a journal

A journal can help you capture your thoughts and your ideas. It can also prove an invaluable documentation tool on how your mentality and your career have evolved through the years. With a journal you can review and remember thoughts and feelings of the past under the (different) emotional lens of the present. This can help you clarify your view of the world, increase your self awareness and view projects you have worked on from a different perspective. And don’t limit your journal to only words. You are a designer! Add images, doodles and sketches to it as well and have fun!

Sketch like a fiend

Even if you don’t know how, still do it. Or learn how (if that will make you feel better). However you do it, you will be thanking yourself that you did! Sketching can help you explore ideas quickly, form new ones, compare layout quickly etc. It will help you become more efficient and also to explore new creative avenues. Your sketchbook might never be something Da Vinci would be jealous of or eventually it might, but trust me that was never the point!

Participate on creative communities

Become part of design communities and get in touch with fellow designers. Behance is a great platform to both get inspiration and become acquainted with other design professionals. While looking for communities to fit in avoid the complainers, the crybabies and the “elite”. They are a waste of time. Focus on communities that promote the positive impact design can have for commerce and for social or environmental good. Also focus on communities where you can have meaningful discussion and interaction.

Understand the culture (and economy) of your city

Despite the global economy we are in, and the vast opportunities to do freelance work at an international level, most of your commissions will still come from small or large local sources. Understand where the design is going on a local level, how the projects by your fellow designers transform the local industry creatively and economically. This will help you plan, craft your vision and see how you can fit in and grow.

Stay relevant

Read books, watch video courses, learn and constantly expand and update your tools and skills. The moment you will get bored of learning new things and technologies, you will know that the time has come to retire from the design profession.

Be curious

Read books, watch documentaries and learn about non-design matters. Study science, history, art and politics. Be curious and keep wondering and asking “Why?”. Open your mind and expand your horizons. It will improve your capacity to generate creative ideas and come up with novel solutions to your design problems.

Do side projects

You are designer because it’s your passion right? So don’t wait for a commission to explore a new design territory or to learn a new software or tool. Find time for personal, learning, or just for fun projects. If you can’t find the time then make some! Side projects will help you:

  • Unleash your inner creativity.
  • Work on something you really want to.
  • Blow of steam.
  • Experiment safely with new tools and techniques.
  • Expand your porfolio and skills.
  • Have fun!

And you never know! Maybe a side project will end up being a passive income mine or the doorway to a great opportunity.


So, I invite you to think and consider these tips as you prepare your goals and resolutions for 2016. Feel free to share your own ideas and tips as well in the comments below!

Featured Image: Licensed Stock photo from Deposit Photos

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