My Iterative Career Manifesto
In September of this year I will celebrate my 10 year anniversary of living in New York City. Over the past few months I’ve been reflecting on my personal goals I had in mind prior to moving here — hoping to evaluate whether I achieved any of them and to what extent. In doing so, I’ve been looking through old digital and analog notebooks.
In college I was an avid note-taker, having at least two notebooks going at once. I’d recommend keeping at least one, as looking back on these are quite enjoyable; from the late night brain dumps, to-do lists, and pie in the sky thoughts. I found the following list written in one of the last notebooks from my college days:
2005 Manifesto—written in Storrs, Connecticut
- I want to be a part of a successful design studio.
- I want to enjoy the work I am doing and the people I work with.
- I want to feel a sense of accomplishment everyday.
- I want my colleagues to push me, and I them.
- I want to create, design, and discover.
- I want to work late hours on projects I am in love with.
- I want to please client by creating successful projects.
- I want to learn from my colleagues and teach them.
- I want to be wrong.
- I want to be completely proud of my portfolio.
- I want my design ethic to be dynamic and always morphing. (I think I meant aesthetic.)
- I want to live, eat, breathe, and sleep design.
- I want to create printed matter.
- I want to design a vinyl record.
- I want to create a promo kit for myself.
- I want to design books, posters, postcards, business cards, identities, websites, and EVERYTHING ELSE.
- I want to design shirt graphics.
- I want to design skateboard graphics.
- I want to write.
It’s pretty funny to read these now; as you can tell what started as a manifesto slowly turned into a to-do list of what I wanted to design. This is a great representation of my younger self, determined but distracted. I loved design but at that point was very heavily invested in my band and going on tour. My ultimate goal was to move to NYC but I didn’t have a clue of where design would take me and the experiences I would have over the coming years.
Looking back on this list 10 years later, I can say I’ve been somewhat successful in maintaining my initial hopes and dreams for my career. That being said, these aren’t items I can just check off—to stay true to these goals I really need to check back year after year to confirm that these are still valid and that I’m aligned.
In addition to looking back and reflecting I’ve decided I should adjust this list based on my experience and my new goals. With this re-write, I am hoping to move away from an idealized want list to a more informed declaration of intentions.
2016 Manifesto v1.0—written in Brooklyn, New York
- Focus solely on the work that interests you most.
- Always be an individual contributor >50% of the time. Designing is the reason you got into this business.
- Don’t jump to the computer right away in the process.
- Talk to users.
- Listen. Stop, and listen.
- Solve for the disease, not the symptom.
- You work to live, not the other way around. Never put yourself in a situation where you can’t take a few days off.
- Speak your mind, make sure your voice is a part of the conversation.
- It’s ok to internalize, process, and then respond.
- Work to feel a sense of accomplishment everyday.
- Allow your colleagues to push you, and in turn you should push them.
- The two most important components to a job are the people you work with and the work you are producing.
- No job is worth it solely for the money.
- Keep your personal life and work life separate.
- Embrace criticism, from everyone.
- Take risks. Lots of them.
- Always challenge yourself, your comfort zone will be there to come back to later on.
- Take the time to smile and laugh, after all it’s just design.