Many designers are self taught and self teaching. There are always improvements and changes in web standards to incorporate into practice. This pace is overwhelming at times, and everyone experiences this once in a while. If you’re new to dealing with web standards you might feel frustration on a regular basis. Fortunately, the systems in place for learning and keeping our cool are as relevant as ever. Let’s look at a few mindsets you might experience and how to deal with them.
Impostor syndrome: If you have ever felt like you fooled your way into the project and everyone is smarter than you, blame this mindset bias. Every designer and developer has felt this way at some point. It is also important to remember that everyone is at a different level of learning. There is no “yes/no” impostor state.
Comparison: Another way to hit the wall is by comparing where you are with other designers to the detriment of your learning. I believe a level of comparison helps us to learn and gain perspective but if it gets out of hand can cause you to rethink too much of your work.
All or nothing thinking: This is an easy one to run into thanks to the level of information that exists for the self teaching designer. Trying to understand everything at once is sure to make you feel overwhelmed.
Resign to not knowing (yet). Every time I feel overwhelmed this is step one to restarting. No designer has a grasp on everything happening with the web. Allow the reality of learning to settle back into your practice and make progress at your pace.
The web is resilient. When you’re learning, you will discover that the way you have been working isn’t quite up to date anymore and you have outdated pages on the web. Relax – there are some very old pages online that are still legible. Some newer features for the web aren’t even used much until browsers “catch up” with compatibility. That said, your old pages are an excellent chance to bring new learning into practice. Updating old work is a chance to learn, not another problem.
Measure your progress. This is something I do to keep myself on track. By comparing yourself now to where you were last week you can see progress or identity problems instead of feeling overwhelmed by an unhelpful mindset. Identifying what you don’t know is a good first step to learning.
Finally, go take a walk. That fixes everything you can’t process yet.
There are more problem mindsets – and ways of dealing – than I mentioned. Leave a comment to talk about how you handle it.