What to do when things don’t work out

In my review of my first year of blogging I touched on the fact that a lot of opportunities I thought I had haven’t quite worked out. I think I was hit a lot harder by them at the start of the year, and when things didn’t work out before I even started blogging. But now I’ve had so much practice (bad things count as practice too) I’m so much better at dealing with lost opportunities now, so I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve had to work out for myself to help anyone in the dame place out.

If it was an offer…

Take confidence from being noticed

If someone has reached out and offered you an opportunity no matter what it is you should take some confidence out of the fact that you were noticed and someone wanted to work with you etc. Take it as a professional compliment, and use that to give you the confidence that if one person is out there noticing you’re doing good work there are probably 10 others doing the same too. That means other opportunities might be just round the corner.

Make it happen some other way

When someone offers you the chance to do something it can make you realise quite how much you want to do it. That means it can be particularly heartbreaking if it doesn’t work out. But if you feel like it was something you really truly wanted to do, use that heartbreak to push you forward and make it happen for yourself. If it was a style of work you wanted to try, do it yourself. If it was a brand collaboration, reach out to someone else. If it was a big project, find some other way to do it or get it funded. Just because someone else pulls out doesn’t mean that you have to.

Remember you haven’t lost anything

Despite what I said above, remember if you’ve been offered something and then that offer mistaken off the table you haven’t actually lost anything apart from an idea or some invested feelings. This is something I’m trying to work on from the start of this kind of process – it’s not real until it’s done.

If it was something you worked on…

Take pride in what you’ve made

If you’ve made something, whatever happens with it you should be so proud! If you’ve made something you really like, that’s even truer. Even if you’re sad, take a moment to appreciate the work. If you can share it with friends and family, or even your social pipes, as a piece of work that you’re pleased with if nothing else.

See if you can reuse it

While bespoke projects are one-offs and can’t be reused in their entirety, you can always cannibalise a piece or a process to turn it into something new so that effort isn’t lost. That could mean breaking down design elements, reusing research work you did to write your own blog post about a subject, or even using it as a case study of work you can do to sell your services. Everything can be upcycled.

Acknowledge your growth

This one links into “take pride in what you’ve made”. If you’ve made something, you’ve also grown in order to make it. You’ve either learned something new or practiced and refined a skill you already had. You are better for the process even if it was disappointing. Whatever happens you’re stronger for having done the work than not.

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1 Comment

  1. November 24, 2017 / 7:14 am

    the last 3 points are so difficult for me because i barely give credit to any of my work. i always think i suck as a designer, that i don’t have the ‘good eye’ like every other designer does. once in a blue moon i do take pride in what i’ve done but a few hours later you’d probably see me changing my thought, thinking that “it’s not that good. someone else can do better, faster.” a part of me argues that by thinking this way, i will continue to chase and demand improvements which means i’ll never settle for less and will always want to learn, be better right? and then i also think of how a friend of mine takes pride in every design he does and that makes him arrogant and snobbish – i don’t want to be like him. i have this fear that once i take pride in what i do, i can become ignorantly snobbish and start thinking the way he does, underestimating other designers. and then there’s also this fear that once i take pride in my work, someone else will come and sweep that feeling off by saying, “it’s not THAT good. it could be better.” this is what companies always say. they kind of like to ruin your happiness. but when i don’t take pride in my work, they’re gonna say “if you don’t take pride in it, you won’t enjoy your job.” it really confuses me tbh. so yeah, i guess for now i’ll just stick to feeling ‘not enough’ because then it makes me wanna do more, be better and improve even more. i mean, improvement is always good, right?

    this is the same thing with growth. when my supervisor evaluated me, i told him that i’m someone who’s not mindful about myself. like, i don’t really face myself emotionally if that makes sense. i never see myself growing or improving and always rely on someone else’s evaluation – which is bad, i know. but it all goes back to the reason i’ve said above. it’s probably really bad both for my mental health and myself because i always believe i’m never enough. sigh, this is tough.

    the only thing i’m capable of doing is recycling my design because i want people to look at my work and be like, “yeah this is so you. this is definitely you (your style).”

    ack, sorry for blabbering like this. this post just reminds me of my work evaluation that i had last month.

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