A Herculean Fork

As a student at Mento Design Academy I’m learning how to be a better UX Designer. The last 6 months or so have been full of (re)discovering myself, understanding new things and correcting old habits.

A few weeks ago I felt more stressed and more dramatic than Marcello Mastroianni’s character in 8 1/2 (although I wasn’t creating anything, not yet at least). I’ve often felt the need to sit down and meditate (repeatedly). I was not being myself; I was pacing around thinking and pondering about my life’s choices.

It may sound like an absurdity but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I was really “in charge” of my path. Even when I considered UX design I did not know what I should focus on in this vast domain and how this really affected me.

The Stoic myth of young Hercules talks about an isolated fork in the road where the hero sat to contemplate his future. He of course chose the right path (more about it on Donald Robertson’s blog) unlike me.

It’s true that in life we are not in control regarding most of what happens to us. What others think about us, what could happen to us when we go out, etc. Even in regard to our own body we’re only in control up to a certain point. The stoics say the mind is the only thing we’re in control of (and science could prove us wrong in some regard even about that — since we are the product of both nature and nurture).

I only chose my first real job consciously in the gaming industry. And since then I’ve been moving from one company to another based on opportunity, money, colleagues or other things that attracted me most in those particular times.

I wasn’t taking into consideration what were the things I really wanted to do in my life and what mattered most. Or what my next step would mean for myself or others. And I was certainly missing clarity in my long term plan.

It really seems that I’ve not been in control of my career. Or to put it better, I did not steer my career at all.

The reason

We must ask not only as designers but also as human beings. When we are doing something we should think of others first. We are rarely only responsible for ourselves in life since we are part of a society; we have families, loved ones, friends, etc.

Choosing a career as with many other things in life can be for the good of others as well. If we want to move forward, to something that brings us joy, why shouldn’t it also be for the benefit of others?

Finding ourselves at a crossroad we could and should constantly ask this, because it’s something we’re in control of.

So, coming back to my struggle. It was about finding something I can believe in, that would make a change for the better, as I said. And I could think of nothing else than: Education and Healthcare.

I consider education as the most important thing in this world. Since nothing has been proven more extremely significant to humanity from the first discovery of technology until now. And with it we could progress in all areas of interest, the single most important long term investment in humanity.

Healthcare speaks for itself, in being one of the most altruistic and inspiring domains that has improved and prolonged our lives in the last few centuries.

So, it took me two days to decide what I wanted to do. It was a really crucial and exhausting and I must thank Mento for helping me exercise the “why” muscle in regard to everything, not just design wise.

So when finding ourselves on “default mode” just looking for the next opportunity to jump ship I think we must ask ourselves if this brings us fulfilment or if it matters in the long run. Or if we’re simply just better off without it. And by stopping and reflecting on what matters most we could choose virtuously.

This was one of the hardest questions I’ve tried to answer lately. As I said in my previous post I’v been trying for a while now to get into the Design industry. It may be that I’m sometimes slacking or I’m chasing butterflies while distracted on a different path. But it does not matter what obstacles we meet. We can stumble, fall, but we have to pick ourselves up again and again, and move in the right direction by making our intentions clear.

So, what’s the hardest thing you’ve done lately? When was the last time you thought about where your life is taking you?

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