On a recent episode of the Honest Designers Podcast, they had a wonderful discussion about knowing when you’re good enough. I was intrigued because its so common that people expect they need a certain number of followers, likes or amount of money to be successful.
How do you know when you’re actually good at something? I fully agreed with their points and I had my own two cents to add to the discussion.
First, I agree about not having a strict benchmark. It truly does set people up for frustration and failure. In the past, it used to be super easy to get Instagram-famous or Twitter-famous. It was during a time when these platforms are a lot smaller and simpler.
Times have changed. Today, we have a lot of people out there who are trying to excel at something. They’re using these platforms to do the same. You’re really swimming in a large sea of noise, trying to make yourself known.
Hard work and practice is also different for everyone. 10,000 hours of practice is the usual go-to number. Consider though, not everyone needs that. Some may need 5,000 hours and others may need 20,000. No two people are alike.
What matters is when you’re good enough to feel confident in your work and consistently produce good results.
This is where so many people trip up.
When I started learning to design type, my first drawing were awful. I wasn’t going to be happy with any of them turning into a font. I still practiced though. I learned as much as I could and eventually got to the point where I could put an alphabet together I was reasonably proud of.
Once I had the confidence that I could replicate this time and time again, I sat down and created my first font — Porter. I’m still not an expert, and I certainly have a long way to go. Regardless, I still have that confidence and I feel that I can call myself a type designer.
The additional things like likes, followers, and the amount of money that I’ve made off my fonts are a nice little side bonus. But they aren’t the main goal.
It’s also worth knowing that you’ll likely never be an absolute, 100% expert at anything. This is okay though!
For years, I did a lot of website design and development. Truth be told, I never knew the platforms I used intimately from front to back. Every day that I showed up and built a website, I learned something new about the system or a better way do my work.
But it I didn’t let that slow me down and stop me from not being a web designer. And I know there are people out there who know more than me. I also know there’s people who out there who know less than I do about web design. No matter what, it doesn’t stop us bceause we’re still producing consistent quality work that a client can appreciate using. There’s no need to be a know-it-all expert.
The bottom line once again, is having confidence in your work.
It’s what shows it’s what draws people to you. If you don’t have confidence about your work, it shows. It’s weird how people pick up on it. But when you’re confident and excited about your work, your process, it shows. Clients will pick up on it. People notice. And it’s how you climb the next step.