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Being a designer is great! I love my work, and I love working with business owners, coming up with solutions to their problems and improving their business. One of the toughest things that designers face is self-doubt. That’s one aspect of the profession that can crush a career before it ever gets started. As a designer, how do you battle self-doubt? Let’s take a look at some things you can do to build your design confidence and move forward in your career.

Do More Work

I know this sounds like a crazy no-brainer, but hear me out. A lot of that doubt comes from lack of experience. Your confidence comes with time and with actually doing the work, but you actually have to do the work to build the confidence. The typical thing designers do is avoid projects and avoid taking on work, because they aren’t confident in their skills. This is counter-intuitive and counter productive, making it the exact opposite of what you want to do.

Attend Workshops

You should attend workshops, take extra courses, take online courses, etc. The reason is that they usually involve doing real world scenario projects that help to build your skills. When you take these extra courses, you refine your skills and build your confidence. When you start to see that you can come up with good design solutions outside of an academic classroom, your confidence will grow.

Get Internships

Internships, while you are in school, are crucial to your growth. The classroom does not prepare you for what an actual job will be like. You have to see it first hand, which means you have to be there in the trenches, doing the work, working with clients, working on a team, and encountering real life scenarios and problems. The classroom tends to paint a one-sided picture of what a design job will be like. 12 years ago, when I had my 1st internship, I learned more from that internship than I did in most of my Bachelor Degree courses.

Do Side Projects

Doing your own side projects can help to build your confidence, too. You can remove self doubt by familiarizing yourself with the design software, doing sketches and handling the planning process from start to finish. If you approach each side project like you would approach a client project, you can judge the results, deciding on whether you solved the problem effectively, or if you could have come up with a better solution. Remember, practice makes perfect!

crush self doubt - intimidation

Have you ever been in a meeting with a group of clients or a committee like this one? In can be intimidating to someone with low confidence. Also, look at the guy in front with his arms crossed. Talk about negative body language!

Become a Freelance Designer

Freelancing is a great way to crush self doubt. It’s kind of a trial-by-fire method for building your confidence, but it is definitely effective. You end up tackling all of your fears at once. You learn how to work with clients effectively. You also learn how to plan projects and meet objectives. You also start to build your own process for working on projects. Don’t worry, you’ll refine this process as time goes by. The great part about this, is that you make money and build your portfolio in the process. You’ll understand deadlines much better, and you’ll definitely learn how to prioritize your time and which project you are working on.

Designers: Crush Self Doubt!

When it comes down to it, you have to break through the wall of malicious self doubt. It is important for designers to have confidence in their work. If you don’t have confidence in it, how will your customers have confidence in it? If you’re going to be charging people for your design work, that confidence is essential to the sales process. Check out this video about creative self confidence by David Kelley.

How do you deal with self doubt? Even as an experienced designer, do you still have periods of self-doubt? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.