Doubt Your Doubts

Written by Aaron Marks
Doubt Your Doubts

I have a long history of doubting my work. Sometimes doubt leads to a breakthrough, and other times it leads nowhere. Either way, working through that doubt is rarely easy. Over the last couple of years, I have picked up some helpful tips to work through it. 

Take a step back.

In the Freight studio, we have a wall where we pin up our progress throughout a project. This allows us to take a step back and look at the larger picture. We ask questions like:

  1. Does everything feel cohesive?

  2. Is it technically good?

  3. Does it work?

All of this is code for, "are these concepts successfully conveying the message, mission, and context of the company"? There have been a few times where, almost half-way through a project, I have pinned up all of my work and realized that nothing was feeling right. As a designer, there are only a couple things that are worse than grinding for days on designs that end up in the trash. Thankfully, I have a team to talk some sense back into me, but there are instances where we all feel the same way. 

Getting back on track.

The Freight team is lean, so we can’t afford to constantly rethink our decisions. Which can be challenging for us because we tend to be over-thinkers. But we have learned, as business owners, that we have to be proficient in working through our doubts, making the right decisions faster, and executing them as best as we can. There are a few ways that help us achieve this.

Trust the process. 

First, we don't sketch anything before we do our research. This gives us a clearer picture of the specific needs of a project. As stated above, we want to be sure that our decisions are framed by the purpose of the company. Second, we sketch a lot of thumbnails. We want to explore as many ideas as possible. Lastly, we pare those concepts down, refine them, and present to our client. If our client is satisfied with the direction, then we move forward. 

In the end. 

Not all doubt is created equal. Some doubt has value in that it can lead to discovery. It can produce better ideas and ultimately stronger work. But doubt can also be a dreadful weight. You cannot let doubt overtake you and prevent you from seeing the larger picture. Get a team and process behind you. Discover, sketch, refine and move forward.