And other observations that can improve your sense of self-worth as 2021 begins

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Magdalena Krekels from Pexels

Sometimes, it is so hard to imagine that we have it all together.

As adults, it seems like we’re expected to learn and process so many new life lessons and experiences — especially in this era of constant change.

Not to mention the psychological struggles we endure: the critical development of our self-image that began in childhood comes under question once again as we are cast into adulthood.

Our sense of direction can become jaded as we begin our careers. On-the-job expectations arise and suddenly, we are faced with the powerlessness of anxiety and imposter syndrome.

While those of us who struggle with this would like be 100% confident in themselves one day, it simply isn’t realistic. You’ll always experience emotional highs and lows. Therefore, the key to developing a healthy sense of your self-worth is understanding yourself on a less judgmental level. …

The unspoken key to fearless creativity and joy

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

There is truth to the idea that childlike curiosity is the key to opening one’s mind to learning anything new.

It’s also a well-known fact that much of our formative personality traits, as well as our most impactful memories stem from our childhood. Yet we almost never think about looking to our younger self for guidance when dealing with the complex realities of the constantly changing adult world.

This year, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic affect every area of our lives, forcibly thrusting us into both the physical enclosures of our homes and the internal prisons of our minds.

Like a muscle with consistent training, we grow and are shaped by pain and hardship. …

And how it can help you design for what matters most

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Jon Upshaw

Ever since I began my journey as a UX Designer, I had always designed for digital experiences.

This past week, I learned a lot about designing for conversation.

I came to realize that in our increasingly digital world, we are constantly seeing shifts and improvements in how we experience human-to-human communication. However, something we all take for granted is the art of designing for human-to-AI communication.

If you think about it, most of the technology you use depends on AI to provide you with the in-context information you need. The same is true with chatbots.

Chatbots are everywhere. Since the term “chatterbot” was coined in 1994 by Michael Mauldin, chatbots have become an important part of our daily lives. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by George Becker from Pexels

“Unfortunately, I’m no longer in business. I apologize for the inconvenience.”

Those were the final words I spoke to my last customer. Hearing those words come out of my mouth was embarrassing and disheartening, but I knew it was time to call it quits on my personal venture after 3 months of attempting to scale my prototype startup at the time — an apartment-based garbage removal business for college students too busy and too concerned about the safety risks to walk 50–60 yards to the dumpsters during the evenings.

Before starting my first business, I had read the story of Jeremy Young, Art History student student turned entrepreneur after successfully scaling his unique approach to laundry services at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Inspired to do the same, I decided that I wanted to create my own job instead of working for someone else. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The human brain is a truly amazing work of art. It’s no surprise that scientists haven’t quite figured out how it works — in fact, the many mysteries of the brain have left scientists baffled for decades.

Though some of its inner workings contain findings yet to be explored, the brain’s incredible ecosystem is designed to handle unique and constantly changing levels of feedback. Understanding the nature of this feedback is key to applying neuroscience research methods to your daily UX design and research.

It’s common knowledge that we perceive the world around us and interpret it through 5 senses — vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Of course, when we think of interaction design, we usually think of the cognitive processing involved with vision. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Eugene Shelestov from Pexels

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

As I stared at my computer, my fingers hadn’t budged an inch. As far as I knew, my life was divided into 3 categories: time spent relaxing and enjoying “hobbies” (which often meant staring at my smartphone for extended periods of time), time spent working in exchange for income, and time spent sleeping.

Like so many people, I was weighed down by my daily obligations. I had dreams, sure — but everyone does, right? …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Todd Trapani from Pexels

My design career hadn’t been off to a good start.

It was my junior year. I worked in my university’s dining hall. Amidst the stress and the chaotic work environment, there wasn’t much to look forward to as I travelled to work via bike each day.

I had applied and gotten an interview for a local graphic design position while working there, and was promptly rejected, forcing me to rescind my two-weeks notice. I thought I’d land the position.

I remember sitting in class the next day and finding out that the guy next to me was hired instead.

Imagine how embarrassing that was. It certainly didn’t help my self-confidence. Oh well, I thought. Back to working late nights in the kitchen. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Artyom Kulakov from Pexels

December 14th, 2016

It was nighttime.

I had just come from my college campus. The idea that such a thing could possibly happen never occurred in my mind. Like most nights, I walked home from my college campus, almost a mile from my run-down student apartment. Unlike most of my friends, I didn’t have the luxury of a car.

As the semester came to a close, I had just clocked my total weight loss at almost 40 pounds. I had worked hard to lose the weight, as I had made it a goal to change my health, and life, for the better. I had beaten my binge-eating disorder and come to terms with how it stemmed from my poor upbringing and the past emotional abuse from my father. For once, I had a real reason to be proud of myself. …

Image for post
Image for post
Photo credit: Pexels

We live in a world populated by success stories.

Sometimes, seeing those success stories makes us feel less successful in comparison. I certainly know from experience.

But have we ever truly taken a look at those around us who appear more successful than we are and dared to ask ourselves, how did they do it? Was it some unique talent? Was it luck? Were they born to wealthy parents (Also a direct a result of luck)?

The answer to this question isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” in most cases. When you think about what leads to success in any form, the details become contextual in nature, meaning that success is more of a byproduct of careful planning and action behind the structure of that planning.


Jon Upshaw

I write on productivity, culture, design, entrepreneurship, and life in general.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store