As designers, we all have our weaknesses. Whether we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, stressing under a personal narrative we’re struggling to embody, or adding too much to our plate – there’s plenty of pitfalls that can take a toll on our work and our success.

This month, 99U breaks down some of those issues and offers some helpful tips for overcoming them.


Breaking out of a destructive do-it-yourself mentality

When you see yourself as a creative, intuitive, independent person, your default response to challenging scenarios is often to push yourself harder to get everything done on your own. Sometimes this works.

Most of the time, it backfires. The “I-can-do-it-myself” approach typically leads to an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure, stress, and procrastination that could have been avoided by building in the right support structure early on. (read more)

Nobody knows what the hell they are doing

There’s an old puzzle that philosophers like to ponder: how could you ever be certain that anyone else has a mind at all? The truth is that you can’t. Ultimately, even our closest relatives—people we’ve known for decades, or who gave birth to us, or vice versa—are closed books: you’ll never get direct access to their thoughts or emotions.

It’s the sort of terrifying realization that might trigger an existential meltdown in the sanest of us. Yet when it comes to creativity, it’s actually enormously liberating. (read more)

The Narrative Fallacy: Why you shouldn’t copy Steve Jobs

There are dozens of blog posts about Ben Franklin’s strict daily routine (and they all almost always include this picture), advocating that we should follow suit. Writers love to point out how Maya Angelou made sure she wrote in a hotel room every day to help give her a safe space to work.

A young Steve Jobs lived an extremely sparse possession-free lifestyle, and thousands of techies have attempted to emulate this no-nonsense, minimalistic living style. (read more)


A Modest Proposal: Better criticism, more art

Read a news piece you disagree with? Leave a raging comment (sometimes in ALL CAPS) or down-vote it. Buy a $0.99 app that doesn’t have every feature we think it should? Post a one-star review. Take to Twitter, time to badmouth it. We’ve all been there. (read more)

The Comparison Trap: How to enjoy (and not envy) the success of others

First thing in the morning, I check Twitter, only to have it list off for me all the ways I’ve already fallen behind. A colleague has released a new e-book. Two of my design heroes are announcing a collaborative project. One of my old college buddies has posted a video trailer for an upcoming online program, and she looks phenomenal, polished, charismatic (I’m still in bed, bleary-eyed, and definitely not at my most telegenic.) (read more)

Is your ambition holding you back?

Ambition isn’t typically referred to as something that needs to be “dealt” with. On one hand, it’s the driving force behind every great accomplishment. On the other, it’s a constant voice nagging you to do more. (read more)

How do you over come these designer pitfalls? Share you tips in the comments!