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Do it or don’t, but do it with all your heart

As the new year fast approaches, I’m sure you’re met with the timely question: “What are my new year’s resolutions?”. First of all, ditch that question. Ask yourself a better one: “What are my new year’s necessities?”. Life is a one time thing. As a clever design student, graduate or young creative professional, I’m sure you want to focus your time and energy in the right places. 

Having a “new year’s resolution” often has a negative association and means something needs resolving. The dictionary says it’s to make a firm and unwavering decision to do or not do something. But why do we find a way to talk ourselves out of it?  
  • “eat more vegetables, eat less junk”
  • “run 3 times a week, watch less TV”
  • “quit smoking, join a gym”
  • “drink more water, drink less alcohol”
  • “spend less, save more”
  • “spend less time on FaceBook, sleep earlier”… the list goes on.

There are three things wrong with the above:
1. They aren’t detailed and specific goals
2. There needs to be a basic strategy in place
3. The results need to be tracked and measurable
Having a necessity as opposed to a resolution demands more authority for you to follow through. Make your goals necessities. A necessity is a must. 
This is an extremely simplified goal setting technique. I suggest you write your goals in this format (notice I say “write” – It makes it more memorable, personal, sincere and real):
  1. WHAT
    What would you like to accomplish? Be very specific. For instance “I would like to accomplish being able to design a mobile user experience/interface for a health and nutrition recipe collection iPhone app”. If you just say “I want to design an app” or worse “I want to learn about designing an app”, it becomes a very unstable vehicle without a steering wheel.
  2. HOW
    How are you going to achieve this? Write down every single step. Again, be specific. Don’t just say “read a book on mobile UX design”. Your steps should include directive actions such as: “research on google about iPhone app screen dimensions”, “email John Smith about how he designed his educational app and ask for guidance/tips”, “find apps that are good examples of the layout and design style similar to my project”. Then continue to write next steps after the research stage, for example: “begin rough sketches of user journey and wire frames”.
  3. WHEN
    You need a deadline for the time you are allowing yourself to complete your goal. This is made easier if you break your goal strategy up into smaller deadlines. With every small action you make, there should be a measurable result. You can’t achieve your end goal unless you follow through with each step. So have a timeline associated to each step in #2 (HOW). Have common sense. If we use the example of the mobile app, you can’t draw up the user journey/wire frame if you haven’t done enough research on the structure of such user experiences. How much is enough research? When your absolutely confident enough that it makes sense to you and others.
A true new year’s necessity means you have made an unwavering, uncompromising commitment to following through. No matter what, you WILL achieve that goal. You may encounter obstacles but those obstacles are simply there to test you to see how badly you want it. 
Put some weight on the goal. Ask yourself what your life could be like by achieving it. Then ask yourself what your life could be like by not achieving it.
Do it or don’t, but don’t let that burning desire disappear.

What goals do you have in mind?

For more, pick up a copy of Ram Castillo’s internationally and industry-acclaimed book ‘How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed’.

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Author: Ram Castillo

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About Ram Castillo


Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, Instructor and Author of two internationally acclaimed books 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed' and 'How to get a mentor as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, and Apple.

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