I have been at my current job for almost 3 years now, I work in retail design, mostly print but also a fair bit of social media and marketing.
I'm not sure if I am just at some "3 year itch" or what it is, as I do like the place I work for, but in the past 6 months I've gone from always coming up with a multitude of different ideas and always pushing myself... to doing the bare minimum. The owner of the company is very happy with my work and I guess I just got to the point where I figured if I'm getting the same $$ and same praise anyway why bother? I've slacked off quite a lot. I still get all my work done just in a much shorter time frame.
Because of the minimum effort I put in during the day I have begun doing a little more of my own things after work, mainly photography. But I'm starting to get worried that if I get too comfortable and stay this way - only putting in the minimum required I'll have trouble if I ever switch jobs later on as I could be out of the loop design and skill wise?
Should I be looking to switch jobs to get my momentum up? Or am I in a good place where I have more energy to work on my own projects. (the only thing is my own projects are not necessarily design based so i don't think they would really help my folio either)
I just wrote a massive reply, and for some reason it got stuck on the upload.
It's taking you less time to do your work because you know your job inside and out. This isn't a bad thing. And it happens to everyone — not just creatives.
The gist of what I wrote was
– See if you can get some other responsibilities at work, it will help change things up (don't have to be design related)
– See if work will sponsor you doing a work related course. It will get you out of the office (if they're prepared to do it on their time) and surrounded by other creatives
– Challenge yourself at work. If you work to a style guide (which can be boring), then do another version not in the style guide, but as your own design.
Changing jobs can help with this issue, but after 3 years in the next place you're going to face the same problem. There's also a risk in changing jobs as the next place may not be as good as what you have now.
Yeah, I agree with @Petree, don't sweat it dude. It's good to constantly be pushing yourself, but everyone needs their own personal off-season.
You're still doing good work and your boss is happy with your performance so take that as a sign that you've levelled up. Some workplaces will have room to accommodate a growing designer with tasks like @Petree mentioned, if not, yeah, maybe it's time to move on.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the photography, soak up all that new inspiration you're getting from doing something different. It'll stop you from burning out and you'll be flexing some creative skills that might have atrophied.
I think the posts above make a lot of sense but another view depends on the context of where you are at in your career. Is this your first job? Have you worked with other designers and if not are you interested?
I can think of a job or two that I might have left a bit prematurely because of the exact way you're thinking. In hindsight, and had I been a bit more mature/experienced, proactive and self motivated, I could've made a lot better of the situation.
@Petree's suggestion re: seeing if you can expand your role could be an excellent avenue, particularly if you have a supportive boss. Sounds like you're on a pretty good thing.
If you're not enjoying your job you either need to seek a change in your role at your current work, or find something else that you will enjoy and/or feel challenged.
The best thing that happened to be was being made redundant from a company I had been at for 3.5 years. I had a job that paid well, that was "easy" for me to do, that didn't push or challenge me in any way. I knew I should leave but it was "easier" to not make a change.
Since being made redundant I've started my own business, spent 2 years in Kenya as a volunteer, now in my 4th year of Latin America remotely freelancing... but due to the jobs I got into right after my redundancy (along with my overall experience) I could also head home any time and likely walk into a senior producer role if I ever *really* needed to.
So from my point of view, make a move (or make significant changes in your current role).
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my message.
Petree I completely agree that changing jobs can result in the same issue occurring 3 years down the track I have seen it happen with a few of my friends.
The company I work for is quite small, and I have already taken on a few other roles on top of the design and advertising such as social media, assisting with photo shoots etc so at the moment there isn't anything more for me to take on. It was quite overwhelming taking on so many roles in the beginning but as you said I guess i have 'leveled up'
This is my first job out of uni and I think this is the first year where I have felt I haven't really been working towards something. Previously I was always working towards doing better on a project at uni or saving enough at this job to travel or whatever) so that aspect I guess just feels strange.
I do like the idea of making a second version of my projects at work for my folio. thanks for that
Dave your life so far sounds like it has been full of amazing opportunities. I will admit I have thought about just taking off on a youth mobility visa and trying to work somewhere overseas!
Thanks Guys, it's inspiring looking through everyone's work on here.
Just keep at it dude, if your boss is happy with your work, and you are getting a little bit of a mental rest, then use it to your advantage. You could be writing a post about how stressful your work is because your boss doesn't appreciate the work you do and the potential you have.
I've been in a situation like that, I stuck it out to the point where I had worked an entire year with this studio, got out, went overseas for 3 months - backpacked around Europe, lived and worked in Positano, Italy for 8 weeks as a graphic designer in an amazing hostel. Came back, got a job as a front end web designer / developer and now I'm trying to progress through this stage.
I think the most important thing about being a designer / developer (in the creative industry) firstly is: realising what a gift it is to be creative and to be able to earn money off that, and secondly: making sure you are always learning each and everyday - troubleshooting problems and solving them with a creative and efficient solution that gives you a little motivational kick.. aside from all that, the rest is up to you..