#48: The Highs and Lows of Creating and Living
How I poured my brain into a thing and made a little study guide!
Recently, a friend messaged me and asked me questions about UX and the industry. As I was writing my reply back, I realized: ‘Wait a minute. I’ve done this about a thousand times. I should probably learn how to scale this more efficiently.’
By ‘scaling more efficiently’, I meant avoid saying and writing the same things over and over again to different people, one email at a time. That is just nuts… and unsustainable.
Instead, I wanted to do something different this time. In searching for answers, three questions popped into my head:
What are the most common questions that I’m always being asked?
How can I turn my answers into something that can be distributed to people?
Instead of a 1-on-1 interaction, what can I create so that it can actually impact 2-3x more people?
The no-brainer answer is a mini-study guide, PDF and in Notion.
A project is born
So I started putting things together:
Unpublished pieces of writing I’ve done on the subject
Emails I’ve sent to mentees
Frameworks I’ve created and released publicly
Talks and decks I’ve given
Updated and related bibliography
And then I wrote a summary and a rough outline of what I can realistically cover. This was all done in a day and a lot of what I did actually got scrapped afterwards— I wanted a different approach to the writing. I just wasn’t satisfied and have to admit, in the excitement of things, I basically threw the kitchen sink and tried to cover everything.
Terrible idea, so I did what any designer would do— step back, think, go back again and eliminate what is excessive, add what is necessary.
The power of 1%
That was around 3 weeks ago. The study guide grew up to about 27+ pages comprising of 7 short chapters, 2700+ words, a bunch of hero image studies plus a few original pieces of writing, from scratch.
This is nowhere near its best shape. It will be— with feedback and lots and lots of improvement over time, not to mention some bit of editing as well. But I was really satisfied with what came out of all this. As of this writing, here are the the topics I was able to cover:
Why choose UX as a career path?
How to think like a user experience designer
How to supercharge your craft— and get hired by a startup along the way
Freelance lessons (in America) that no-one taught me
This was all made possible because of the following actions that I took:
Read books every morning to get my brain settled, 30 min-1 hour — may or may not be directly related to UX
Wrote everyday, 1-2 hours of deep work — just for this study guide
Deleted my Facebook for the nth time — less distractions
Utilized the iPhone’s focus mode — forced me to delay responses
Created a daily log of my life, it’s a more structured form of journaling focused on tracking my emotions and my productivity — helped me uncover my blind spots
Invited early readers into the work-in-progress doc — wanted to get some feedback from people whose judgement I trust highly
Spoke about it constantly with few intellectual sparring partners (yes that’s a thing apparently. Borrowed this from Sahil Bloom’s writing. Great concept! Would love to deep dive into this further at another time. ) — wanted to test the friction of the idea and maybe mine a few ones along the way
I have to admit, none of this came easily. It was a daily struggle. I wanted to bang my head against the wall half the time because I was totally convinced it was a stupid idea. Why would anyone ever listen to me when so many others are better, more competent probably. I still have a lot to prove myself.
But then again, in the spirit of this growth mindset I’ve been actively developing over the years, I basically thought to myself:
Why not? If it sucks, it sucks. At least I’ve started something new. In such a short period time. Oh, did I also mention this last bit of detail: While growing another human inside me. Think about that for second. What could be more badass than this?
That, in itself, is an experience and a story I so wanted to get onboard. Would I regret this if I didn’t do it and invested the necessary time and energy? Absolutely. No doubt. Done. No questions asked, I’m gonna do it.
And so I did and here we are.
Why am I doing this?
This is not about being motivated at all. This is more like a mission, a lifestyle, a belief. Pregnancy managed to really bring out an untapped part of my brain, the kind that apparently brought out a lot of energy and creativity in me. I already know that I am at my happiest when I’m creating.
Having a baby while doing so just makes the whole thing sound so poetic, and oddly, exhilarating.
And I guess, I love that a lot. More than a lot, evidently.
Access to the study guide
Would you like an access to this study guide I’m building? Please send me an email: email@example.com with the subject: ‘I want access to the study guide’.
Orrrrr.. Leave a comment below:
For now, this is a work-in-progress, a living documentation of some kind. I will be adding more original pieces of writing and short essays on the following topics:
Cultivating creative confidence
Building career roadmaps
Deeper look into select design philosophies I’ve used over the years
How to apply a multidisciplinary approach to UX
And templates, maybe? We’ll see. I will certainly give more updates over the next few months, as much as I can. It’ll be difficult to say when though.
Living is creating, creating is living
One of the best feelings in the world for me is looking at a thing and saying to myself:
‘This exists because of me. I made this happen. Someone, somewhere, will find this helpful and it doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 100 people. It’s more than enough for me.’
This is a high I chase constantly and I’m grateful for all the serendipitous events that continuously fuel this drive. To turn every frustration and pain point I have into an opportunity to flex my creative muscles is the goal.
And I am beyond excited for what will come out of all of this. Perhaps, it’s a lesson I’ll be happy to teach our kid one day. There must be a reason why I’m learning all of this, at the pace I’m at.
Someday, he’ll reap the benefits himself.
And maybe even do more with it than I ever can.
I know he will.
Thank you for reading,
Quote I can’t stop thinking about
“Genius is the act of solving a problem in a way no one has solved it before. It has nothing to do with winning a Nobel prize in physics or certain levels of schooling. It's about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.” - Seth Godin
+ this brilliant episode I listen to multiple times a year on the subject: Genius From Akimo, a Podcast by Seth Godin
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