The Next Six Months
The past year or so has been a big learning curve for me. Changes in various routines, as well as the emergence of newer, more important priorities in life, has made me delve into the world of philosophy, design and authorship like never before. What I considered valuable a few years ago now seem totally unimportant. In many ways, it has been the typical curve we go through in life, friends and socialising takes on less of a role, with work and family becoming more important. In many ways, however, it hasn’t been, partly due to how I am and partly due to how the hand I’ve been dealt has changed rather quickly. In this blog post, I will briefly explain the changes, as well as how they will be incorporated into my work – both personally and professionally.
This time last year was a time of great difficulty, an understanding design was very important to me because I felt that communicating via design allowed me to socialise with others in a non-verbal way, I could take my biggest weakness and try to minimise it, working on how I could find a remedy. Not only that but it went to the core of my beliefs, using my disadvantaged position in life to enlighten others in new ways they would never have seen before. Without it seeming noble, it logically was, and is, the right thing to do. Why would I indulge in a lifestyle fixated on myself when I could push the boundaries of what I thought I could achieve, whilst making someone else’s life a little better in the process. In my mind, too much of what we do is for short-term gains, pleasure if you will, instead of doing things that can have a real lasting impact, making us happier in the long run. Whilst it may be the more boring and pedestrian choice for some, I feel like this is where I’m best situated to do what’s right.
So what specifically did I do last year, and how has this year changed that so far? For me it’s about ensuring whatever everyone else does, I remain solely focused on myself. Not caving to peer pressure, not being part of a group and blocking out the pointless to name but a few. If you’re in your late teens like me, the chances are you tend not to think about things too much, things are the way they are… because they just are, you live in the moment. I’ve found that for me, spending time thinking about the important, and thinking about it a lot actually better positions me than just meandering about, not knowing my purpose. I tried that with various designs, from Apple’s iWork suite to an iBooks Author for iOS concept and many other designs that people never saw. This was also the case in terms of my relations with other people, if you have a small inner circle you get along with well, you need not worry about gossip or trying to please anyone.
So how has my approach changed, and how will it continue to do so over the next six months or so? Well, for a start I will attempt to communicate better with people, whether that be reaching out more to people instead of clinging on to old friendships or by better presenting an idea to the world. As the old saying goes you’re only as good as the last thing you did, I want to make sure the things I spend my time on will be valuable to as many people as possible. I have three projects in mind that will be large, in-depth and educational, something I just wouldn’t have done this time last year. I needed to convince myself that what I was doing was actually worth it, now it’s a lot more instinctive if something feels good and makes sense, it’s something worth doing. Not only that but my visual processing is a strength and I use that strength in my thought process within my work and approach to life generally. Instead of spending a lot of time tweaking a very spontaneous idea with very little promise I prefer to think things through in my head, the purpose of the project, the best way to design the project, the flow and structure of the project, the distribution, the list goes on. This allows me to save time and focus fully on what matters to me. I like to get on with certainty, a clear frame of mind and with serenity, a sense of calm before the storm that is actually the process of creating these projects. Whilst others will brainstorm and test every idea they have until they find one that works, I like to keep to things I'm good at. Steve Jobs had a phrase – “focus is about saying no” – which echoes my sentiment perfectly. By getting rid of or reworking the things that aren’t working generally speaking you can focus on the things that are, further enhancing your strengths and mitigating weaknesses. Trust me, I have a plethora of weaknesses.
I should clarify that this isn’t a new revelation, but what has changed is how I apply this to me specifically. What was once a case of “I know this idea works but I’m not sure how to make it work” is now a case of “this is more important than that and I know exactly how to make this work and why that’s important”. It’s what I would consider a selfish selflessness, the idea that you focus on yourself and what’s in your interest to a large extent to make sure you maximise your potential to educate and help others in life. One such theory I would recommend learning about is the Social Contract, the idea broadly speaking that we as humans have innate desires for ourselves, there’s a set relationship amongst us and that we cannot truly be selfless people, for even being of help to others is in itself an act of fulfilling our own desire to help for example.
All of these things are new findings to me which help me have a better understanding of why things are and how they could potentially change in the future. In my own personal experience, there’s nothing more frustrating that someone who doesn’t understand me, my views and my ideas. Given my lack of social skills, this is a frequent occurrence. That’s what I have worked on and will continue to work on, the next six months will be about taking this further, educating, understanding, theorising and applying. Big and bold ideas that I hope can educate and inspire those around me to do great work themselves. A task that requires a very fixated mind, but one I’m more than willing to achieve. Be sure to look about for news on those projects, the next year or so should be very exciting indeed.