Don’t let your role define you

Updated 6 months ago

opinion

This article started off life as an essay on my career. But as I wrote it I realised that as great as that was to me, it'd be more useful for me to provide some key takeaways that you can use in your own career to push to where you want to be. These are my five key things to remember about your career. What you do doesn't define you. You can be whoever and whatever you want to be, just keep believing in yourself, and keep pushing down that path one inch at a time.


Just because you started down one path, it doesn't mean you can't change to another 

I started out in retail sales, moved through to account management, then into technical leadership and now into design. None of this was by accident but it certainly wasn't planned. I just kept pushing for and pursuing the path I wanted and felt most comfortable in. You need to do the same. A lot of employers admire people who've trodden a unique path because they bring skills others wouldn't. Be that person. 

Fight the voice inside that tells you that you're not worthy 

There isn't a day that I don't experience imposter syndrome. I'm constantly in disbelief that I'm actually a designer somewhere. I'm still convinced I "shouldn't be allowed" because I followed an unconventional path. But I am a designer, I do that job and I do it well. It's hard to fight the negative feelings but you have to remember that you were hired for a reason. You didn't lie to get there (hopefully), so just keep doing what you do. Someone will tell you if you're not up to scratch. 

Don't be afraid to learn 

This one is probably obvious, but seriously, keep learning. I've never stopped trying to get to the bottom of things and become better at the core skills I need to deliver my job. But equally, I keep pushing to learn more. Teaching myself SwiftUI so I can feel closer to engineering's implementation of our designs, teaching myself Javascript frameworks to be able to build my own personal site and understand the basics of APIs. These are all fundamental to the products we ship, as designers we should know how they work too. Speak in the same language as your developers, it'll save you all so much time and build a stronger team. Trust me. 

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable 

Get uncomfortable. Push yourself to that point. Then sit there, in it, for a while. Get used to that feeling, it'll help massively with that voice that tells you you're not worthy. The more you get used to feeling uncomfortable, the more you'll be comfortable with it. Psychologists often use exposure therapy to help people overcome their fears. Slowly introducing them to the thing that makes them uncomfortable for longer and longer times until they eventually become comfortable. Do that to yourself. Offer to do a Lunch and Learn on a topic to the entire team, take on that Webflow project when you've never used it before, offer to man the phones for a couple of hours to deal with customers. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, push yourself to try it, you'll see it's not that bad and you'll grow tenfold because of it. 

Don't give up 

If you've not had that flip yet and you're still in a role you feel defines you even though it's not the "you" you want to be; don't give up. Seriously. It can feel like it's never going to happen. Trust me, I've been there. But if you focus on the earlier steps and commit to that journey, you'll get there. Seek opportunities in your current business to push into areas you want to be in, even be as bold as to ask your manager if there is any chance. You never know, that career flip might be right in front of you, you just need the courage to ask.

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This site, and all of my work, is dedicated to my hero, my inspiration, and the strongest man I've ever known. My father. I love you Dad ❤️.