In a world tailored to deliver instant gratification, how do we accept the idea that making anything worthwhile takes time?
I chat with Debbie Millman — host of the Design Matters podcast, author of six books, and all-around over-achiever — about why it’s so easy to metabolize and synthesize our accomplishments rather than recognizing them, the different ways to pace yourself to success, and what the arc of a fulfilling career really looks like.
Key takeaways from our conversation:
- Why you don’t want to peak early in your career
- How thinking about yourself as a personal brand constricts your self-expression
- The difference between “marathoner” and “sprinter” approaches to creative projects
- The problem with “moving the bar” and why we metabolize our achievements so quickly
- How to make (and manifest) a 10-year plan for your creative career
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“Most of the things that I’ve done have taken me quite a long time to realize any sense of real visibility in doing them. That’s just always been the arc of my life in anything that I was doing. I didn’t really get any traction with my career for about the first decade. I now look back and call that first decade experiments in rejection and failure.”
“We were talking about the arc of a career and what he [David Lee Roth] said was, ‘You don’t really ever want to reach the peak because when you reach the peak you’re often alone, and it’s always cold. The only direction is down.’ I thought, ‘My, God, that’s got to be one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard.’”
“I am a master metabolizer. I metabolize any achievement or success almost instantly, almost as if it’s Gatorade. Then I keep looking for the next thing to metabolize, and I use these things to feel better about myself.”
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A shortlist of the ideas & resources that we touched on in our conversation:
- Debbie’s essay “Anything worthwhile takes time”
- Dan Gilbert on “synthetic happiness”
- A look inside Debbie’s first book, Look Both Ways
- On writing out your 10-year plan
- The Joyful Heart Foundation
- Follow Debbie’s work: Instagram | Twitter | Design Matters
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