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6 Steps to Help Emerging Designers Get Ahead Today

behind interior design career advice emerging professionals interior design Oct 19, 2021
career tips for interior designers

2021 has been a wild ride for most of us. After facing the start of a pandemic in 2020, we have been left to pick up the pieces this year. The added stressors and finding time for everything have really been a struggle for most of us. However, despite everything around us, we should focus on bettering ourselves in every area of our lives.

If we stay focused on the negative aspects of life around us, we will never grow from our experiences. It is time to focus on our priorities and get ahead today. Here are some tips that can help all of us get our lives back on track and begin the path to success once more. 

Step 1 - Organize your life! 

The first step to getting back on track is to get organized. If you ever want to achieve anything in life, it takes some organization to get there. This is a great time to make a plan for your life. Begin to ask yourself some questions.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • What short-term and long-term goals do you have?
  • What do you want to achieve within those time frames?

These are great questions to get you started. It is very important to create actionable goals for your life. Take time to write them down and post them somewhere where you can see them often. You want to refer back to them to see if and when you reach the goals you have set for yourself. This is also great to have in front of you because you can reevaluate your plan often.

Related Article: “6 Tips on Planning and Achieving Your Interior Design Business Goals

Make it a priority to reevaluate your written plan every so often. Are your goals actually attainable in the time frame that you have given yourself? If not, adjust your plan accordingly and continue to strive for the goals that you set for yourself. It is always great to have written goals for yourself for every season of life you are in, no matter how successful you become. Make it important to you, and you will see yourself begin to get ahead just by making this simple change. 

Step 2 - Create a daily schedule! 

Have you ever just gotten to the end of the day and realized that you did not accomplish anything you set out to do that day? Unfortunately, that is because you did not create a daily routine to stick to. But, as with any service-oriented business or career, your time is money. Therefore, having a written daily schedule to follow is crucial to your success!

If you want to be successful, then you need to stay on a schedule. So take time to write out your weekly plan during the beginning of the week, whatever that may look like. I use my Outlook calendar to block out time for my daily priorities. This helps, especially when I am overwhelmed or not sure what to work on next. By scheduling my time at the beginning of the week, I know what to expect and ensure my top priorities are addressed.  

Then, take time to develop a daily routine that you stick to each day. Habits are a significant part of your success. Building out good habits will help you get ahead. Start with set times for meals, workouts, family time, then address your work priorities. One helpful habit that helps me is planning out your meals and snacks for the day. This keeps me healthy even during stressful or busy times when I want to eat comfort food, i.e., junk food.

Having a habit-driven routine pushes you to always make time for what is important. If you make time for it on your schedule and stick to it, nothing important to you will be forgotten. You will be able to get your work done when it needs to be done, and you will still be able to have time for yourself and your family. You must do this if you want to get ahead today because you will be wasting time that could be well spent doing things of importance without a schedule and a routine to follow. 

Step 3 - Know when to let go! 

Let’s just be honest here, you can not win at everything, and that is okay! If you find yourself spending way too much time on something that you just can not get right, then let that be a sign that you just need to move on to something else. So often, we find ourselves trying to create something, and we want it to be perfect.

We try and try to make it the best we can, but it keeps messing up somehow. At that moment is when we just need to realize that enough is enough. We win some, and we lose some. Take the loss and move on to the next project.

A great example of this would be if I were trying to design a room for someone, and the placement of the kitchen just was not working the way I wanted it to work. The dimensions would not allow for the great island that I thought would be beautiful in the space. No matter how hard I tried, the island was just too big.

Even though I probably felt a bit defeated, it would be okay if I just moved on to something else and took the loss on that one. I can just rework the kitchen and find a smaller island or go with it altogether to make it work. Even if we do not like the outcome, sometimes that’s just how things work out, and that’s okay. This is just another step of how we get ahead in life. Take the loss, do not waste your time any longer, and move on to the next big thing!  

If you struggle with perfection, a great book to read is “Brave not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani. Reshma discusses how little girls are taught at an early age to sit down, look prim and proper, and not stand up for themselves.

As we evolve into women, we put an extreme amount of pressure on ourselves and other women to do it all – to be the perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect employee, and so on. So much of our desire for perfection was cultivated at a young age.

In the book, Reshma talks about moving forward, one step after the next. I love that. We often don’t act because we are too afraid that it isn’t perfect. I see this all the time in myself and my design students. Many of us are so reluctant to try something new that we become immobile for fear of it not being perfect. It is a great book, and I highly recommend it for women who struggle with perfection and feel like they are not enough for those around them.

Step 4 - Take care of yourself!

You can not pour from an empty cup. This is an old saying, but a great one! Taking care of yourself is so important. If you do not take care of yourself, you will not give one hundred percent of yourself to everything you need to do. You will begin to lack in areas, and that can be detrimental to your career, relationships, and your life, in general. Take steps to make sure that your health is a priority of yours. Take care of your physical health by working out and eating correctly. Make sure you are taking in enough water and nutrients.

Second, take care of your mental health by taking mental health days and doing things you enjoy. Make sure to take those days off because they truly are detrimental to your health. Finally, take care of your spiritual health. However, that looks to you. Whatever steps you need to take to ensure that you are one hundred percent well, take those steps. Do not be afraid to see a doctor or visit the gym. Doing these things will help you get ahead in life today! 

Step 5 - Do not be afraid to ask for help! 

No matter what you are going through or what you are working towards, it is absolutely okay for you to ask for help along the way. You do not have to do everything by yourself. It is a great idea to have a team around you, helping you succeed and reach your goals. Delegation is a great way to get more work done around you. If you have a long list of things to do, prioritize items that can easily be done by someone else and allow someone else to handle it. If you have more hands-on work, then you can accomplish so much more. Hiring an intern is a great place to start! 

Read my article “How to Find Your Next Intern on LinkedIn” to learn more about finding an intern for yourself. 

Hiring an intern does not mean that you can not handle it or no longer achieving your goals because you absolutely are. This just means that you are going to be able to reach them quicker. Delegation and having help are positive things. Do not look at them negatively, and be okay with asking for help if you get to the point of having too much on your plate. If you want to get ahead in life, have a team around you that will help you reach your goals! 

 Step 6 – Challenge Yourself to Learn Something New

Humans are curious by nature; therefore, we are constantly seeking more knowledge. Similar to a child’s brain, the adult brain has the capabilities to learn new things. As you learn certain tasks, it makes it easier for you to learn more difficult tasks. So the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks doesn’t actually apply to us at all.

Actually, the brain is quite amazing. When you learn new things, your brain actually grows, sort of. Learning increases the density of your brain’s white matter, which helps with performance. Additionally, learning stimulates the neurons in your brain, creating more pathways and allowing your electrical impulses to travel more quickly. [link: ]

Pre-register for Building a Brand Identify Branding Beyond Logos: An Interior Designers Guide to Branding.

With all that said, you need to learn to boost your performance. As an interior designer, you are required to take CEU courses to maintain your NCDIQ. Continuing educations courses have a wide range of topics.  Beyond that, many other options help designers learn, including software training, project management, or leadership courses. To grow your career, it is essential for you to continuously be learning.  

Some final thoughts! 

Wherever you are going in life, you always want to be on the path of growth. You want to be improving and striving for new goals every single day. Once you achieve one goal, go after another and allow that cycle to be your life.

As you continue checking off your goals, you will begin to grow and grow into the successful person you have been looking forward to becoming. Remember these steps as you work to get ahead. 2021 ends in just a few short months. Take time to plan and write down some goals that you would like to achieve before the end of the year hits. Create and follow your schedule, and do not be afraid to ask for some help if you need it while striving for those goals. In the meantime, take care of yourself, and with all of these steps combined, you will begin to see yourself flourish into the successful person you have always wanted to be! 

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