For many years, I ran my own design business. I did well, paid my bills, traveled some, and lived a comfortable lifestyle.
Every day I worked with my clients to help solve their design needs. I was a good designer and decent at running a business. But one day I woke up and realized, I no longer felt connected to the work I was doing. Even though design was a lucrative talent of mine, there was something missing. I didn’t care about the work my clients were doing. I felt like a cog in the wheel of production. There was no sense of purpose, no meaning aside from just fulfilling a need. My work lacked depth.
After nearly two years of feeling this way, I cut my ties, let my clients go, and pursued a new business.
I spent many months refining the vision for a new business—now called Betwixt—determining who it was I wanted to serve, and how I wanted to serve them. Throughout this time, I documented my process.
What I learned surprised me. It shed light on why I felt so disconnected from my work as a designer:
Finding purpose in your work comes from believing in and caring about the people you serve.
We spend more time working than anything else in our life, with the exception of sleeping. So it makes sense that we should actually like the people we work with—right?! Since putting myself through my own process, I now know who I adore and enjoy serving:
- You who are designers, doing the work of connecting disparate parts through visual means.
- You who are independent and courageous, running your own business.
- You who are women, wired for empathy and connection.
You don’t have to give up your craft to find greater purpose in your work. And you don’t have to spend your time working with people who don’t delight you.
I want to help designers find meaning and purpose in their work through the clients they serve. From my documentation, I developed a values-based approach to determining the people you care about and want to work with. This process reframes “ideal clients” as Great Patrons, inviting designer and client into a more rich, fulfilling, and grounded collaboration.
The great and talented Milton Glaser once said:
“I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is some way congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.” — Milton Glaser
I am thrilled to be working on the next iteration of this process. Through a combination of email and web, I’m designing a self-guided digital experience for defining and discovering your Great Patrons.
As this experience unfolds, I am sharing what I learn. If you would like to be a part of this with me, enter your email below.
I send letters just about every week and have been told my writing is “honest,” “insightful,” and “encouraging.” We may be separated by time and space but I would love for you to be a part of this as I design this new experience.
People Enthusiast + Owner of Betwixt
October 1, 2015 — Feeling 14 again and other uncomfy things