So I finally have my focus with where I’d like to take this blog. Justin Michael was kind enough to exchange an extensive amount of emails in helping me figure what to do to get to where I want to go. He wrote an awesome post and I promised I’d answer each and every question he asked (in the emails we exchanged and the post that he wrote). I thought it was very fitting.
So let me restate: I want to work with IDEO. This is me chronicling my adventure from where I currently am to getting to where I’d like to go. Bolded Italics are from Justin’s post, shared and linked below.
If you’re struggling to make progress toward your goals, take a step back and make sure you know the following three things:
Where you are now?
PCA as a package designer – but I really make instruction sheets for manufacturing and assembly. I also make the retail instruction sheets for in-store set ups. Sometimes I make mock ups which are samples of displays that will end up in the stores. Let me be clear: the engineer hands the design over to me I cut it out and set it up.
Where you want to be?
I want to be at a place where I can work with interesting people, solving problems that matter, while using my design skills. I want to go back to making products that really do have an impact on people’s lives.
- Why do you want to make an impact on people’s lives?
- How do you want to make an impact on people’s lives?
- What kind of products do you want to make?
Prosthetic limbs, footwear – it doesn’t have to stop there. I want to help design services, branding of companies, and educate others about the impact design can have in the world.
What’s between those two points?
Perhaps its maturity to some degree. Growth maybe? I don’t feel like I am practicing the skills I need to go and work for the companies listed above. The two portfolios I have consist of projects from college – I don’t think its good enough to get me to where I want to go.
I kept wanting to focus on my portfolio. But I was told to define your goals, both short and long term. How do you want things to be different in a month? In six months? Where do you want to be in a year? Three? Five? You need to first figure out where you want to go, in detail, and only then figure out how to get from where you are now to there.
Short term goal: In a month
Next year I am leaving PCA to work for IDEO. Rather than go back to university, I’ve taken a few of IDEO’s online courses. I made a few connections and that led me to an opening design position that I absolutely love. Rutgers/NJIT has reached out to me to teach a course and it works around my schedule with IDEO.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who are trying to move forward without knowing some or all of those things. You can’t plot a course without them, and you need specifics.
Where you are now.
In order to know where you are, you need to have answers to these questions:
What do you enjoy about where you are now?
I’m learning about package design, manufacturing processes, and art layout for production work. I get to listen to podcasts all day. I just love learning.
What do you dislike about where you are now?
There isn’t too much room for creativity. For “serendipity” to happen. It’s all about the bottom line and profiting or so it seems. The traffic to work and from work.
What’s keeping you where you are? (In other words: Why aren’t you somewhere else right now?)
I need to pay them bills, bills, bills.
What are the various paths leading away from where you are now? I’d need to up my sketching skills along with my design thinking skills.
So many people think they know where they are, but they really have no idea. People tend to look toward the horizon, they tend to dream about what isn’t instead of examining what is.
Reflect on your situation and figure out exactly where you are right now.
Where you want to be.
Asking someone to drive to “the west coast” or plot a course to “somewhere in the pacific ocean” is not useful. Where on the west coast? Where in the pacific ocean? When do you depart? When do you want to arrive?
And yet, people say, all the time, they want to “be rich” or “be famous” or “have more followers” or “be more successful.” Those aren’t destinations. If those are your goals, then you’re directionless, and you won’t get very far.
Answer the following about where you want to be, and then you’ll know which direction to travel:
What does it look like? City buildings, traffic noise, crowded streets and bright lights everywhere on my way to work.
What does it feel like? There is room for growth, I am in the state of flow. No answer is ever too crazy.
What makes it better than where you are now? Collaborations, real in person interactions, research, there is no fear of failure.
When you get there, what will you do each day? Solve real world issues by using design thinking and in-depth research from people that have the experience to the solutions I’m looking to solve.
How much time are you willing to invest in getting there? As long as it takes.
How many resources are you willing to invest? As much as I have – drawing skills, design thinking development, taking the four paid classes, net working,
What are you willing to sacrifice in order to arrive? Time spent with friends. If they love me and understand my goals, they’ll help pave the wave.
What’s keeping you out? A portfolio that shows proof of my capabilities.
Once you know, specifically, where you are and where you want to be, a direction will present itself.
There’s distance between the two points. If there wasn’t it would just take a step, it wouldn’t be a journey.
Imagine the distance. Imagine the path. Answer the following:
How’s the terrain? Rocky in a few areas but smooth in others.
How’s the climate? Four seasons, I can do without the winter months.
What are the obstacles? Huge mountains, giant canyons? My own personal fears.
Where can you get support while traveling? Online classes, linked in, networking at social events locally.
How great is the distance? 15 miles.
What will fuel you over that distance? Personal research, personal documentation, proof and self building confidence.
Will there be enough fuel? Yes. I’ve already arrived.
Figuring all this out might challenge your expectations. That’s good. You may end up heading in a direction you didn’t think you would. That’s both exciting and much better than not moving at all.
When you know where you are, where you’re going, and what the path between looks like your next steps will present themselves. Take those steps. Make progress. Have an adventure.