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Making Resolutions…To Not Define Yourself.

New Year Resolutions

Welcome back! I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season full of yummy food, exceptional company, and a few adventures. As we all pull ourselves back into our daily routines that sadly do not include our pjs as day wear, I cannot help but hear all the talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Personally, I stopped making resolutions years ago. They seem absolutely useless to me. I whole-heartedly believe that people can change, but to arbitrarily put forth self-defining, and possibly limiting, edicts about your personality, character, and life on a cloudy day in December sounds a little cuckoo to me. Then to add insult to injury, on January 1 everyone’s newsfeed is flooded with articles and studies on how it will be impossible to keep those resolutions. Count me out.

But what does this have to do with design? A whole lot, according to a recent article from Fast Company entitled The Most Important Design Jobs of the Future. The article discusses the 18 design jobs that are currently in the process of developing and those that are perhaps more 3-5 years out ranging from a Human Organ Designer to a Fusionist. How exciting is that? The unknown design frontier! It was the quote from Seattle’s own Dave Miller, a recruiter at the design consultancy Artefact that really got my brain whirling in overdrive: “Over the next five years, design as a profession will continue to evolve into a hybrid industry that is considered as much technical as it is creative.”

The more I ask people across multiple fields what they professionally do and get the response, “It’s a little hard to define,” and interview for jobs at companies with vastly different ideologies, it is clear the traditional boundary lines for jobs are coming down in a big way. If we only stuck to the the well-defined and known spaces, none of those 18 design positions would begin to exist. There are still technical skills that are required for different design positions, but that is becoming increasingly secondary to the additional knowledge/views you are bringing to your position. An example would be that my knowledge of learning system theories and often anthropological approach to problem spaces, which I have always had and used in my design work, has become a big topic of conversation recently. My design skills are considered a given now and it’s the “extra” that people really want to know about. Yay! So what does that make me now?

To answer my own question, I no longer know. That answer would have TERRIFIED me just six months ago, but in an attempt to live by my own wordy example, I have tried to stop defining myself by often very restrictive definitions a while back. Definitions that had me missing opportunities, not taking chances, and questioning myself at every turn. In a sense, I boxed myself in. To say the least, I did not like it. Sometimes it is not about putting your well-defined stake(s) in the ground and changing yourself for the supposed better, but allowing yourself to just exist between the boundary lines and be open to evolving at a moment’s notice. As one of my most supportive and antagonizing (yes, they can co-exist) professors once stated to me in one of my more evolutionary periods of grad school, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Wise words indeed.

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