Being excited by this last years (2012) results of publishing my goals publicly, I was hoping to share the joy this process has given me. As I was tossing over some thoughts, I recently came across an article with a similar topic on .net magazine (one of my favorite field resources). While the perspective was unique, well-written and thought out; I believe the direction is wrong and a dangerous misconception for early adopters of our field. While most of this writing is about my own experience, I would like to touch upon a different viewpoint from the .net article.
Last year, I changed my website to push myself a bit farther out in our community. I did so, safely, not being well known and secretly not wanting much spotlight. Along with my updated site, I published my most important goals to my about page. These included work, family and personal goals (in spite of my personal anxiety of having these goals out there for the one or two people who might venture across my site). Setting and publicly publishing my goals aligned with the two main objectives of re-branding my site. The first and most important, to help me reach my goals. Second, to help improve my appearance to current employers and clients. I’m happy to report I found success in both of my site objectives.
Although I only succeeded at meeting one of my goals at 100% for 2012, that wasn’t my main objective. My main objective was what I would learn on the journey of working toward my goals. With thoughtful review of setting goals, writing them down, being realistic and having my goals posted publicly, I gave myself a starting point and a subsequent path to follow as I worked toward my desired outcome. I was surprised at how much I achieved by taking a serious approach to goal setting. One thing that helped me, was to focus on what I’d achieved rather than what I hadn’t. For this year, I was able to review my goals, be more concise, realistic and decipher what I most want to achieve based in part, on my experience with last years goals.
I agree with Oliver Reichenstein’s assessment on the failure of letting guilt drive our goals. I praise him for writing this and add my own little voice that guilt as a motive usually doesn’t result in meeting our desires. However, to say that our goals are better reached by using “the seven deadly sins” is inaccurate and misguided. Sadly, Oliver came very close to hitting this topic perfectly except for one wrong turn in the road. It is not in giving into our lust, gluttony, greed, envy, slothfulness, wrath and pride that helps us achieve good design. It is in the controlling and mastery over these things that frees us to design, do good work and to serve our clients well. Sometimes, the work designers choose to create, market some of these things. We could easily believe that these “seven sins” drive us and make us better designers. However, this isn’t usually the case.
Let’s use “slothfulness” as one example. How many successful designers have achieved success by being slothful? Could you say of any of them, “that they have had it easy?” Look at the library of books most successful web designers have studied. It is not a small stack and certainly not a stagnant one. This doesn’t count the massive amount of time each of them have disciplined their minds to think and dream design. Oliver says as caveat, possibly to not offend these designers, “Remember: great designers didn’t get to where they are only through sloth. Designers need to excel at all seven deadly sins.” This adds confusing noise to his article. My hope for young designers and those considering design, is that they find out for themselves by asking successful designers how they achieved their success.
In my experience; hard work, persistence, study and balance in life will give us the freedom and the success we truly desire. I’m grateful for achieving success in 2012. In the setting of new goals for 2013, I currently have an honest view showing little or no progress toward my goals. It may seem a bit embarrassing, but with the results of exercising and acting upon my “faith” in setting goals and resolutions, I am thrilled to start this year out with many zero’s showing on my about page. To me these zero’s represent the potential of the new year and my journey to continue to learn and accomplish my goals both professionally and personally. They will work to help me meet my overall objectives. All the best and happy New Year!