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On being a mindful designer

Nov 5, 2023

We kid ourselves into thinking that our craft requires us to be switched on all of the time and that in order to truly be fulfilled in our craft we need to be relentlessly creating for ourselves and other people.

Sometimes you have to start, other times you have to slow down. When do you know what's right for you? That’s what Radim Malinic explores in his latest book, Mindful Creative.

Being human

At the intersection of what makes creativity so complex is that it's uniquely human, as such is our tendency to overthink. As designers we can be taken away from the moment at any point, into a land of expectations from ourselves and others. Creativity can take us away from the present and we can loose sight of the thing in hand in anticipation of finishing a project or goal.

The question then becomes (and one I'm pondering) how do we delay gratification to create and enjoy the present moment?

Being connected

I speak not only for myself but probably others when I say that design can often feel isolating, we work to deadlines and briefs that aren't always reasonable. We long for play and fun (which is what got us into this) but all that seems to come out as is work and monotony. Our goal then should be to strive for connectedness in our process, whether it's through family or friends, or designers alike.

We can realise that, even if we’re at different stages of our journeys, we’re all more connected than we realise

Being enough

In the self-help world, we float around the concept of "being enough" and I've always taken it with a bit of fluff but there's some truth to it as Malinic points out. Its important to define what that is for you, we place so much value upon our career and our work that it can be hard to zoom out every once in a while and get a sense for what was a good day? What was your personal achievement? What could you do better?

Comparison to others and their work should not equal envy, but rather be the inspiration and fuel to join the journey of eternal learning and advancement of oneself.

Being mindful

We can't create for others if we aren't creating from a place of abundance within ourselves. That's taken me the longest time to realise, whether it's journalling or practicing breathing exercises, it's important to practice taking time for auditing how we're feeling, and when we have an off-day, not letting that spiral out of control to the point where we go on a consumption binge social-media or otherwise.

The sufferings of others shouldn’t be some kind of yardstick you beat yourself with because you think you shouldn’t – or don’t deserve – to feel the way you do.

This is to say, we think our problems might be less than others but that makes them no less important. Remember to be kind to yourself and in doing so you'll be kinder to others.

Being thankful

Stay with me on this one. You're probably thinking why should I be thankful for working a 9-5 job designing things I don't like? I hear you and I've been there and more than one occasion. I think it's important to consider that any career that let's you flex your inner-creative, escape and imagine a reality that doesn't exist yet is powerful and unique skill.

Would you rather be a kid who can’t drive, staring awestruck at a gleaming high-performance sports car that you don’t know how to use but dream of owning one day?

We've probably made mistakes as creatives both professionally and personally, once we can learn to make peace with our past we can begin to live for a more meaningful present.

My takeaways from the book

  1. Regularly audit your mind
  2. Default to gratitude wherever possible
  3. Be kind to yourself
  4. Share and celebrate wins with others

Be sure to follow me over on Literal to see what I'm reading next.