I have recently had birthday. Another journey around the sun and it has made me quite reflective on how I got to where I am in my life. To an outsider I am successful, I have a strong professional presence in design, illustration and performance, a good social life, loving husband and positive outlook for the future. People describe me as “lucky”, but luck has nothing to do with where I am or any accomplishment I may have made. Everything I have was built through constant learning, trial and error and lots and lots of work (and it was nurtured by the love and support of those I chose to surround myself with).
Luck, in my opinion is the hope of the lazy, for if luck exists, what is the need for hard work. I am not going to lie to you and say that if you sit just as you are some day your prince will come, your life will change, that some one will hand you the keys to the kingdom and as if by magic you will have everything you have desired. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you have goals, passions and desires then my only suggestion to you is to work hard and be diligent and this will give you the greatest chance to be successful in your endeavours.
Now this is a pretty vague piece of advice, ‘work hard and you will be rewarded’. However it has never failed me, even when the ‘reward’ came in a form which was completely unexpected or planned.
So below I have listed some steps you can take to grow your talents, and make your own ‘luck.
3 ways to grow towards opportunity
Never stop learning
This piece of advice is number one because it truly is the most important. Learning does not have to be restricted to school or university. We as humans thrive off knowledge. whether it be basic instincts grown from social interaction and athletic pursuits or academic growth of the mind. Constant learning is vital. I am a creative so I spend a small part of everyday researching the design field. This might be brushing up on new technologies, learning a new skill or even reading articles about my fellow designers, or trends. I grow my illustrative knowledge by drawing everyday, physically doing the work and building my minds eye and muscle memory to improve my art and ‘talent’.
You can learn and grow in any discipline and at any level. There is always more to know, there are also plenty of ways to learn. I am a book nerd so I favour independent study, researching on my own and finding information online and off. however there are different avenues.
One of my favourite options, especially for those of us who are maybe rusty in learning or need a bit of guidance to stay productive is quick and easy online courses. Now you may find tips and tricks on youtube and blogs like mine, but a full course catered to the subject you want to learn and are passionate about is always the best options.
This is where Skillshare comes in. It is my favourite medium for teaching and learning, it allows you direct interaction between student and teacher, short classes within the course to pick through at your leisure, so it doesn’t consume too much time and can help you retain knowledge easier with simple short videos (especially for todays short attention span). Also it provides projects for the hands on learning so you can develop your skills as you go.
There are many online course centres such as Skillshare and that means there is a course out there for almost everything and everyone.
If you maintain a students mind and always seek opportunities to learn you will find you will grow exponentially in the skills you set your mind too and with your greater knowledge and experience, opportunities of success and promotion will come within your reach.
Seek out friends and mentors
Surrounding yourself with positive people who share your passions or mindset for growth is another key part in the puzzle to work towards success. Your support can in part be family but it doesn’t just have to be, I know not everyone has a built in cheer squad. Also relying on only family puts a lot of pressure on an important bond. It is easier emotionally to have a multifaceted social surroundings.Seeking out friendship and relations with others is important when looking to improve your life.
A life of solitude often leads to one feeling lack-lustre and lonely, having a strong personal life and happy surroundings is a big motivation. This isn’t a hard thing to achieve either. I am no social mastermind or friendship wizard, relationships do not come easy to me. But I know that if you put yourself out there, eventually like minded people will appear, friendships will grow and you will find the support in the community you build for yourself.
Further seeking people in your field, people who are your equal, peers and masters of the craft can help you really get the ball moving. Seeking out mentorship and advice from higher ranking professionals is a fantastic, yet untapped resource for most. Professional relationships with peers and superiors leads to fast growth through the sharing of knowledge. Others who are in the same discipline as you have taken their own journeys, made different discoveries and mistakes. Communication and discussion with peers can help you stop trending over well worn paths and leap ahead to something new.
Mentors and connections within your industry can also be a good foot in the door for when and if you want to pursue career changes. They can not only bring good advice but recommendations and advantage in your pursuits.
I like to reach out to my peers in illustration through my blog series inspiring illustrators. I find new friends and so much fantastic advice from amazingly talented artists from around the world. I try to give back my own knowledge in return.
Please remember though that relationships are two way, no matter whether they are professional or personal, small or big. Don’t just take, give too, no matter how inexperienced you are, everyone has something to give, a uniqueness to share.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer
The biggest change I had in my ‘success rate’ was when naive me watched the movie Yes Man and decided I should say yes to opportunity,
If you follow the above tips, you are working hard and growing through your relationships, all you have to do now is put yourself out there. Build a website, start a blog or social media account. Show people your work, reach out to your dream place of work, apply fo that promotion or job.
Opportunities will not chase after you, they will not wait for you, you have to go after them. I am fortunate enough to have never been unemployed for longer than a week, I can always support myself, and this is because; I plan ahead and I am always seeking opportunity. No, I don’t get every job I apply for, I don’t win every competition, but if you work hard and volunteer your self enough and say yes to yourself, others start saying yes too.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there at any level.
I hope you have found these tips helpful, and if you would like to reach out (remember tip 2) just start a discussion down in the comments, I am happy to be a support to you.