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18 Ideas to re-Jumpstart your Interior Design Career

business of interior design career advice interior design Oct 04, 2021
Overcoming Burnout with 18 fresh ideas to jump start your career

It May be Time to Regroup, Recenter, and Reload your Interior Design Career

This weekend my husband and I started talking about how many friends are struggling with their careers. It seems that many interior designers reach a point in their careers where we start dreading Monday morning, along with the rest of the week. We are no longer excited about our design careers. In this article, we cover 18 ideas to help you regroup, recenter, and reload your career.

I went through this several years ago, and it was quite a journey. Ultimately, I left a lucrative career to go back to school and start over. It may be age or just a point in which you have done it for so long; it no longer excites you.

I talk with many experienced interior designers working for so long that the excitement and challenges aren’t really there. Each one has an internal struggle with what to do next – continue on the current path or try something new. The younger generation is struggling as well.

This is not something new, and you are not alone. For those in a career for many years, it may be time to try something new. Americans are working much longer than they did during previous generations, giving more time to have multiple careers.

For the younger generation, it may be time to look for a position elsewhere. You may be feeling stifled or uninspired by your firm’s work. Wherever you find yourself, and for whatever reason, these ideas may help you regroup, recenter, and reload your career.

18 Ideas to Help you Jumpstart your Career

It is too easy to become complacent in your career, especially if you have stopped being challenged.

1. Expand your Knowledge

This is the most significant thing you can do for your career. I can tell you from experience that when I am not challenged, I get bored. When I am bored, my work attitude struggles. Learning something new will help you refocus on what you enjoy about your career. For example, you may learn new software that will help you work more efficiently and better serve your clients.

The benefits of continued education include career promotions, increased salary or business revenue, enhanced marketability, and personal satisfaction. In addition, there is something to be said for the feeling when you learn something interesting and can apply it to your career or business. If we are not learning, then we are dying.

2. Re-establish your Personal Brand 

If you have been in your industry for a while or just getting started, it may be time to look at your personal brand statements. I talk about personal brand statements in several brand articles on our website.

Related Article: "Everything an Interior Designer Needs to Build a Personal Brand"

A short version of the brand statement can be used as your elevator speech. The mid-length is more information to support the elevator speech. Finally, an extended version of your personal brand statement is ideal for your portfolio, resume, LinkedIn profile, or website. Reviewing and revising these statements will help you focus on what you have accomplished and refocus on where you want to go with your career.

Check out: "How (& Why) Emerging Design Professionals Can Create a Personal Brand

3. Find a Mentor or be a Mentor

Mentorship can positively impact someone’s career. I remember specific times over the years where I question if I was making the right decisions. But, unfortunately, I was pretty isolated; therefore, I didn’t really have anyone to ask. So I put my head down and kept bulldozing through, making critical mistakes along the way. The right mentor could have saved me from those mistakes or at least help me through.

Check Out: “9 Ways to Mentor Interior Designers and Why Mentorship is Important to Our Industry” 

Years later, I found that sharing my knowledge was more fun than gaining experience. Watching someone learn from my expanded experience is incredibly rewarding. Either way, whether you need someone to bounce ideas off or want to share your knowledge with someone with less experience, mentorship can help you reconnect with your career.

4. Hire a Coach

Along the lines of mentors, I know several people who find career coaches to be incredibly useful. Career coaches can take an unbiased view of your situation and goals and then provide actionable tasks to help you grow. They have an unbiased approach. A coach can help you prioritize your goals, find solutions, and recharge your commitment to your career.

I personally have found counseling to be beneficial as well. When I am struggling in my career, it usually has something to do with a mental hang-up I am struggling to overcome. For instance, if someone struggles with making sales, they may also struggle with low self-esteem or self-doubt. Overcoming the more significant issue will help you solve the immediate problem. Either way, talking to someone about how you are feeling has an exponential effect on your personal and professional life.

5. Track your Accomplishments

Sometimes, we get so busy moving from task to task that we forget to recognize the wins. Taking stock in what you have accomplished this week, last month, or throughout your career will increase your career satisfaction.

6. Regroup and Adjust your Yearly Goals

It is hard to believe we are mid-way through the year. This past weekend, I spent some time going back through my 2021 plan to refresh my mind and get back on track. It is so easy to get sideways throughout the year.

Check Out: “6 Tips on Planning and Achieving Your Interior Design Business Goals” 

7. Expand your Network

I find people incredibly fascinating. Just last week, I connected with a designer who specializes in private jets. I started seeing her work via LinkedIn and was amazed at how luxurious the seats are on a private jet. I am thinking to myself that I need to work harder for a private jet experience. It looks a lot comfier than a commercial airline coach seat.

Check out: “How I increased my LinkedIn Connections by 36% with Old Business Cards” 

Reaching out to others in the industry can bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, and more fun to your career. Finding people to connect with also gives you an inside look at what others are doing and leads to inspiration from their design work.

It is also useful when you are job searching. Connecting with people along the way will open more doors when a new job comes along. For example, people on LinkedIn often post when jobs have opened.

8. Ask for Advice 

When you are struggling with a decision, whether it be a career change or a life change, it helps get a different perspective. For so many years, I went to my dad for advice. Even though he didn’t work directly in my field, he always had some wisdom or a story that would help me work through my challenge.

Finding someone, whether it be a parent, a spouse, or friend, that you can share wants on your mind and ask for a different perspective. So many times, the perspective they give you isn’t one you thought of and can be pretty enlightening.

9. Do Something you Have Been Afraid to Do

I don’t know about you, but I am sort of a chicken. When I was younger, I felt indispensable. Fast forward many years, and now I recognize the dumb things that can go wrong. With that said, it didn’t stop me from leaving a full-time position to start a business. I did not allow my fear to detour my resilience.

Sometimes, conquering the most minor fears result in a dramatic increase in self-esteem and reduces self-doubt. If you have ever said, “Well, if I can do “ABC,” then I certainly can do this,” then you know what I mean. Try learning something new or face a problem that you have been putting off because it is scary. As we do more, the fear will subside, and we grow.

10. Ask Others for Feedback

If you haven’t read “The 5 Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman, I highly recommend it. The book is intended to help you identify how you give and receive love.

Although it was intended for personal relationships, much of it can be used in understanding our own needs and those of others. For instance, my love language is “Words of Affirmation.” Essentially, I need those around me to tell me that I am doing a good job.

It is actually sort of silly. If my husband compliments me on the dinner I cooked, I forget all about my back hurting from standing in the kitchen for an hour. Professional, I have realized that working for someone who doesn’t give feedback is one of the worst things. My advice to others is not to be afraid to ask for feedback. Good or bad, it is the only way you will honestly know how you are doing and how you can improve.

Check Out “The Biggest Secret to Employee Engagement is Consistent Feedback” 

11. Update your Portfolio (and Resume)

If you are like me, you haven’t looked at your portfolio for years. And, you probably won’t look at it until you apply for the next job. Then you will scramble around trying to find images and remember the ins and outs of each project you want to include.

There are several reasons why you should keep your portfolio updated. One, it will save you a lot of scrambling the night before an interview. More importantly, your portfolio exhibits all your capabilities. Updating it or your resume periodically will help build your confidence and remind you that you are a talented designer.

Check out “How to Build an Interior Design Portfolio that Sells” 

12. Read a Non-Fiction Business Book 

I love to read. I especially love to read cozy mysteries. But, unfortunately, the cozy mysteries won’t help my career. So I mix it up by adding a non-fiction book into the mix. At any given time, I am reading two or three books. Non-fiction books allow me to think beyond today.

Good non-fiction will excite you about a new idea or perspective that you otherwise hadn’t thought about. It is one of the questions I always ask candidates when hiring. What was the last non-fiction book you read, and what did you take away from it. The answers are enlightening, and sometimes I find a new book to read. I don’t recommend setting down your fiction altogether; just throw in interesting non-fiction once in a while.

13. Attend a Networking Event

I will tell you a secret, I am an introvert. Shocking, I know. Attending networking events is worse than going to the dentist, and I really don’t like the dentist. But, the truth is that when I go, I always meet someone interesting. Once I am there, and I start meeting people, I am good to go.

So, although you may be nervous like me about walking into a room with complete strangers, don’t let your fear stop you. You never know who you might meet that can help you with your career goals.

14. Create a Blog or Website

Whether you want to post your ideas, portfolio, or share your experiences as a designer, a website or blog is a perfect channel. It allows you to share across a larger platform. It also gives your social media campaign a place to land. A website or blog can be a powerful tool to jumpstart your career.

15. Update your Work Wardrobe 

I am not even going to bring up yoga pants at work. But, I will tell you that you feel confident when you dress the part, and you radiate success. Grabbing a new outfit or even a new pair of shoes can do a world of good for your self-esteem and how others see you.

16. Take a Break

If 2020 taught us anything, enjoy every moment because you never know when things will change in a minute. Taking a break from work or going on vacation with your family or closest friends is well worth it. Even a 30-minute break in the middle of the day can rejuvenate your mind and help you focus. A week with those you love has an incredible impact on your mental health. My advice is to take time away from work. You will never regret it.

17. Start a New Habit 

I am obsessed with improving habits, although my glass of wine each night seems to be in good standing. In the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, he talks about minor changes by stacking a new habit on another one.

For example, when the shower water is heating up, take a minute to make the bed. You were standing around anyway, so why not get something done. Clear recommends adding a habit that takes no longer than 2 minutes to accomplish. It will not make a dramatic change, but it will help you feel like you accomplished something, and over time it becomes a positive part of your routine.

18. Join an Association or Meeting Group 

I may have beaten this one to death, but I really believe that we grow from those around us. Joining or even attending a new group event can be enlightening and motivating. It also opens up doors that you may not have had access to previously.

For example, if you feel stuck in your career or job, it may be time to step out and see a different perspective. Joining others with similar hobbies or likes can really help you rejuvenate. Remember, the group or association you join doesn’t have to be job-related. For example, if you love knitting, try a knitting club. You never know who you will meet.

Our careers are essential for generating income and supporting our lives, but when you spend most of your wake hours doing something, you also want to enjoy it. So take a fresh look or getting a new perspective may help you rejuvenate your future.

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