2020 marks 10 years since I had my first job, My first gig in any form of human-centered design. It was in creating eLearning and knowing how people really learn that made the UX designer I am today. Looking back I have done some great work and helped a lot of people along the way. I ventured into a lot of things over the years, worked more than 5 jobs and made a chased a lot of money had a family.

Recently I started feeling the pressures of life, nearing the 30-year-old stage and being honest to myself what I really want in life, what my real why is. Am I really doing things that I want to do or I am just trying to make it work? Ami really doing the things that are growing me and moving me forward or am I just chasing the money and what I think will bring happiness???

I have become more concerned with how my work impacts the world more than the impact it has on my pocket. for the past 10 years of my life, I have been doing work for the wrong reasons and it is starting to kill me, killing my creativity and the will to do it. I have forced myself to love what pays me and not do what I love and get paid. I started the journey to doing better work about a year ago now when this website created. In my case it came in the form of design sprints, speaking and facilitating design conversations.

Over the years there are so many things that were learnings on why it is important to not become a commodity, plugin and just be another resource. The craving to become something more meaningful to the people I collaborated with was a huge driver in all the work that I had to put into myself, into the person under the hood.

Impact vs Money.

Like I said money has been a huge driver in the work that I have a dome over the years, yes my work impacted real people. I created things that people used in the real world but I was not making the impact I think I should be making in the world. All my efforts went to optimizing business functions, automating business processes and making it easier for companies to get money from consumers while keeping the customer very happy. While the efforts over the years proved how much I can earn as a designer and how much impact I can have on businesses, I do not see the real change in the world I want to see through the work that I do.

Our country South Africa is going through the transition of the 4th industrial revolution and most of the systems that have been built on the foundation of the age before the internet are just crumbling. The education system and what people are trained in is a topic that needs to be addressed ASAP. Across the world, especially in Africa, we face a lot of things that can be solved by design in investment in the right areas like how we educate people and health.

Doing work that impact people directly is now one of my major drivers in working on any project. Impact to me means a solution to a real problem preferably a 2-3rd world problem. While sorting first world problems may be more profitable because of the affluent market you will be serving. Solving real human problems and issues is more satisfying and fulfilling.

The role of design in the world.

This is a topic that deserves its own podcast and maybe even a documentary or a movie, these next paragraphs will not do it any justice but I think design, especially design thinking has a huge role in making the world a better place. Empathy is one of the fundamentals of design and if we intentionally design our world and how we experience it, sustain it and make it better for everyone?  I see design playing a huge role in facilitating and enabling the conversation to solve for real-world challenges.

before the internet we lived in a world of lack of knowledge and ignorance we knew what we knew and did not know what we needed to know and thought what we know was all there is to know but the internet age changed this narrative and everyone in the world has a chance in their lifetime to learn and apply knowledge from across the globe to solve for a local situation. As much as this may seem like a simple thing today, just 20 years ago this was something accessible only through specific academic channels, and not for the general public.

With the personal computer now even available in our pockets the possibilities are limitless to what we can learn, create and contribute to the world through design.

Are you doing work that is meaningful to you?

While we have bills to pay and dreams to chase, some of us want families and luxuries or to invest in our children’s future. Here is my question to you… when you wake up in the morning are you happy? do you feel you are contributing to the world and your impact on this world will help the future generations?

What drives your passion? and what are you really contributing to? Let me know in the comments section below.