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I was perfect.

My framework for growth

I used to design software for an investment bank. The work wasn’t hard. As a visual designer, all I had to do was arrange a bunch of tables and form fields in different configurations. And I got faster over time. A few months into the project, I was spending less than 20 hours a week on UI design. And I still got paid for the full 40. I was at the top of my game, I felt confident, and I had a great work-life balance.

I was functionally perfect.

But all that confidence was shattered when I had my third kid. This extra mouth started devouring the leftovers of my meager paycheck. I knew UX design paid more, but I wasn’t interested in leaving the comfort zone of being a visual designer. Until I was forced to.

I hated how much of a n00b I felt like stepping out of visual design. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about UX. I didn’t know how to do research, how to structure information architecture, or how to conduct testing. So I created my own UX curriculum using articles, books and workshops to fill in the gaps in my design knowledge.

I masqueraded as a UX designer in my next role. And I got found out. Sometimes visibly. With each setback, I leaned harder into my discomfort. I studied my failures, built up my knowledge and set up sandboxes to practice until I succeeded. Side note: if you have worked with me, I want to sincerely thank you for helping me grow through your criticism, both harsh and constructive.

I’ve used the try → fail → learn framework to level up several times in my career. Now I get uncomfortable if my work starts feeling easy.

If you feel like an impostor, I see you. Recognizing your weakness is a sign of growth, and that alone makes you worthy of being at the level you’ve arrived at. Put in the work and keep improving. Some people stop when they reach functional perfection, and that’s great—as long as you’re not getting in the way of someone trying to grow.

I’ll leave you with a Terry Crews quote that I refer to regularly: “I constantly get out of my comfort zone. Looking cool is the easiest way to mediocrity. The coolest guy in my high school ended up working at a car wash. Once you push yourself into something new, a whole new world of opportunities opens up. But you might get hurt. In fact you will get hurt. But amazingly when you heal – you are somewhere you’ve never been.”

I tweaked this on Fri Apr 19 2024 03:25:39 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)