Freelancing as a graphic designer is certainly not easy — the road is filled with obstacles and things will often not work out the way you expected. You might have ‘dry’ spells when projects just aren’t coming your way, or be frustrated by the feeling that you just aren’t as good as other designers out there. In such cases, it’s not unusual to question your competency and whether you will truly find success in this field. As such, building self-worth as a graphic designer is important to allow you to have the mental fortitude to weather the various challenges that you will face.
Tips to Building Your Self-Worth
MONEY AND SUCCESS
Success to you is probably about how much money you make, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, you need money to live comfortably and keep freelancing as a graphic designer. As such, it’s easy to get disheartened when you don’t have any projects and aren’t getting paid. While there’s nothing wrong with measuring success based on your income — it should only be seen as the first step towards building your self-worth as a freelance graphic designer.
First, realize that having money is just society’s definition of success, one that you don’t have to adhere to. If you are able to manage your financial situation well by being frugal and budgeting, money will be less of a priority, thus allowing you to seek out other ways to define your self-worth.
As a graphic designer you have many merits besides how much you earn, such as the ability to think creatively and turn ideas into reality. At the same time, identifying your weaknesses allows you to understand exactly what you need to work on in order to become an even better designer. Building self-worth is about appreciating what you are, while taking steps to overcome your shortcomings. Once you feel confident in your work, you won’t feel the constant need to seek approval from others or keep stressing out over nothing.
Think deeply about what you really want as a graphic designer. You will find that besides money there are usually other basic desires, such as power and independence. Professor Steven Reiss, a well-known American psychologist, proposed a theory on 16 basic desires that guide nearly all human behavior. Once you understand what drives you, it will be easier for you to come up with goals and objectives to meet such desires. For instance, if you desire power then you might want to consider starting a design agency or becoming a creative director.
Applaud yourself for being brave enough to pursue your dreams, which is something not many people are capable of. As long as you don’t give up and keep doing what you love, success won’t be far behind.
Nothing makes a better teacher than experience. You will make mistakes in your freelancing journey, but always use every mistake as an opportunity for learning and growth. It’s also a good idea to take some time off to travel and expose yourself to the works of graphic designers from around the world.
In fact, I would argue that graphic design is one of the more valuable skills out there. Unlike some industries where automation is replacing human workers, creativity is probably the one thing that can never be truly automated. Because every designer views the world in a different way, your work will always be unique to you — it’s just a matter of finding the right people who will value your skills and help you on your path to success.
THE PROCESS OF BUILDING SELF-WORTH
Building self-worth is a long process, but be honest with your work and keep pushing yourself every day. You will get more motivated as you get better are what you do. Remember, as long as you keep improving you will always be ahead of people who don’t make the same effort.
Over time you will be able to look back and see how far you have come, including all the skills and knowledge you have gained in the process.
It’s also important to learn how to avoid procrastination. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. You should always be motivated enough to finish the task at hand. If you don’t, the negative implications of not meeting client expectations will hinder your success.
In addition, you don’t want to obsess over perfection because there is no such thing as perfection. By pursuing perfection you will feel like you are never good enough, which will destroy your self-worth. Instead, focus on doing your best work — people will acknowledge your efforts and be more than willing to pay for your services.
As you get your work out there you are bound to receive feedback, both positive and negative. Some people will try to put you down, but others will help you improve in one way or another. As such, try best as you can to view any feedback as a learning experience instead of a blow to your self-worth.
Similarly, comparing yourself to others is a downward spiral into depression. There will always be someone better than you. Instead, observe other people’s work, learn from them, and use that newfound knowledge to help you improve as a graphic designer.
You should always surround yourself with people who will motivate you towards success. Go out of your comfort zone and make friends with people with similar aspirations. It’s not just about them encouraging you in your times of frustration — you should also do the same for them without expecting anything in return. Nurturing those bonds will do wonders for you, both professionally and personally, in the long run.
In the end, there are many ways to defining and building your self-worth as a freelance graphic designer. As long as you know what you want be and take active steps to pursue your dreams, then success will surely follow.