5 skills to coach yourself as a designer

by Karthi Subbaraman

In my product coaching practice, past few weeks has been a little strange. The questions are not anymore about products or teams or culture or screens, it is mostly about life and finding self.

Probably it is the effect of pandemic and the ongoing deadlier second wave doing this. But the questions are getting deeper and more life oriented. Typically, designers who ask these questions are struggling with remote work demands,  major life decisions or wanting to break free from the monotonous non-creative workload.

Lockdown life is just accentuating the burnout. To beat the burnout, we push ourselves to the breaking point to meet the demands of our non-creative lives. We seldom understand that once broken, it becomes hard to collect ourselves back to normalcy.

In the current times, we all need a little help. The good news is we all have the capacity to provide that little help to ourselves by ourselves. There is no better time than now to develop some self-coaching skills and show ourselves some kindness.

Here are top 5 skills needed to coach yourself. It is not rocket science but needs deliberate practice and a lot of patience. The foundation of self care starts here.

  1. Deep listening: Allow yourself to express in writing or as a voice note to self. This could be a journal entry or your day to day reflection notes. After expressing yourself, set aside time to deeply listen to yourself with utmost care and compassion. When listening is deep, receptive, and caring, you can catch subtler levels of meaning and intention in yours words often.
  2. Authentic Speaking: Listening to self is one part. Responding is another. When you pay attention to your inner self you truly listen to your thoughts, emotions and feelings. When you respond back with compassion and deep connection between what you are saying, how you are saying it, and what you believe, inner self typically listens and there is alignment to self. When the alignment to self is high, fulfillment skyrockets.
  3. Silence: It is not the words that bring the clarity but deep pauses between words that allows self to deeply reflect and explore ongoing thoughts. As a practice set aside quite time for self everyday. It could be a long walk with self or just sitting at the desk with eyes closed for a set time. An established meditation practice also counts.
  4. Appreciation: Consciously acknowledging the positive in you everyday takes away the need to compare yourself to others. Our negative bias in our biology makes us focus more on negative thoughts rather than positive ones. It makes self appreciation a hard job. But deliberately pin point positives in you everyday and appreciation goes a long way.
  5. Questioning: Thought provoking simple questions like why, what and how during self talk or journaling helps you reflect, pause and become aware of self.  Questions help our brains to prime and pay more attention to our thoughts.

Journalling continuously helps in catching the emotional triggers and responses throughout the day. The skills above can allow you to self coach in times of distress, confusion, demotivation and apathy. Constant practice of self coaching  can provide you much of direction, structure and motivation to self.

Let me know how your self-coaching goes?

🥂 to self-coaching !