Have you ever been afraid to take on a particular project? It seems silly to be scared of doing your job. But I’ve had that feeling many times – especially early in my career.
Fear can creep into your work for a variety of reasons, but low self-esteem seems to be the biggest culprit. For me, projects that pushed me beyond my current knowledge level triggered some nerves.
If I didn’t already know something, how in the world was I going to make that project successful? I had no idea that I could take the next step. It was almost as if whatever new skill I needed to learn created an invisible barrier that I couldn’t get past.
But over time, a strange thing happened: I realized that I could learn new skills. I didn’t have to stay stuck at the same level for the rest of my life. And somehow, I came to enjoy learning. This is how I did it.
Looking Behind the Doubt
An effective way to deal with anxiety and doubt is to think about the reasons behind them. In my case, I believe it stems from the fact that I wasn’t a particularly great student at school. Part of me feels that learning is beyond my abilities and that I need to stay in a comfort zone.
While it may take a little time to figure out why you suspect, it’s worth exploring. Whether you think you’re not capable enough or you’re afraid of what taking the next step might mean, understanding why you feel that way is a significant part of overcoming it.
The truth is, even the best designers out there have times when they don’t feel good enough. And it’s easy to see why. When you think of all the inspiring collections of great design, etc. that we see daily, it’s no wonder we feel like we don’t measure up.
Although these collections are intended to encourage, they often have the opposite effect. Sometimes it feels like you will never be as good as the great work being produced. Some of us may use it as a demotivating tool.
Set Your Own Standard of Excellence
With introspection and experience, you may come to a different conclusion. Instead of feeling bad that your work isn’t featured prominently or that you haven’t learned a trendy new skill yet, realize that this isn’t some kind of competition between you and the rest of the design world.
Really, you just have to compete with yourself. Encourage your doubts and fears to get better. Use it as an excuse to further your learning. After all, web design is a field with an incredible amount of educational resources at your fingertips.
You can also up your design game with regular practice. If there’s a particular technique you haven’t mastered or even tried yet – have fun with it. Start a side project or create a test site that no one else will ever see. The more you research and practice, the more you improve.
The idea is to improve it incrementally with each project. Rather than hoping for a meteoric rise to the top, set more realistic goals. This will keep you motivated and eager to continue on a positive path.
Fear goes there
Although web design is a creative field, it is also one that requires us to constantly share some projects and responsibilities. This can lead to fear that you don’t have enough time to try something new and different. You may feel as if there is no room in this delicate balance to add anything else.
My coping mechanism is to try to deal with it all as efficiently as possible. I like to have all my ducks in a row and know exactly how to handle them. The upside is that I can get a little antsy when taking on a project that requires me to go further with design or code than I have before. It feels anything but comfortable.
But I learned to embrace these opportunities. I still have my doubts, but I try to think of it as a way to challenge myself to do better. It’s an opportunity to cross something new off my design bucket list.
So the next time you’re faced with a project that makes you doubt your abilities – take a serious look at why you feel that way. Remember that your concerns are both normal and valid. Everyone feels this way at one time or another.
From there, devise a plan for how you will approach this new challenge. Do some research to prepare. That alone can give you a confidence boost. Then it’s time to get to work.
Once your worries and doubts are gone this time, you’ll be able to know that you can do it again and again.