2023 Letter with 10 Lessons

2023 Letter with 10 Lessons

I’ve been writing my 2023 reflections for myself and I thought I’d share them with you. This is a bit of a long and personal one. Feel free to skip it if you like.

OK, let’s get to it!

Write

I've been writing for years, however, I gave the focus it deserved in 2023 as I felt the urge to express my ideas more in words than colours and shapes. I didn’t resist the urge and I have seen amazing benefits.

Articulating my ideas, feelings, experiences, fears, aspirations, creativity, my “self” with words has made me an even more content, confident person and designer.

However, I failed to share them properly. Yes, I released the LettersFromADesigner eBook and have been getting amazing feedback, thank you! however, I failed to keep up with this Newsletter as I shifted my focus to writing on X. Not because I didn’t have time or energy, but because I didn’t want to be redundant here. That will change in 2024.

I’ve been practising and learning a lot about writing as a designer. I want to share them all and learn more from other Designers. To do so, I'm starting a community at DesignersWhoWrite.com. Join us if you want to write more.

Reading fewer books deeply is more impactful than rushing through many instead

There is this unhinged badge of honour in readers’ world for reading the highest number of books in a year. They do speed reading or skim the book to finish it as quickly as possible and move on to the next one.

I was never one of those people, and I found myself reflecting on this idea more in 2023. This year I took the time to reread the books that have had the most impact on me. I read them slowly and took a moment off the book when I came across an inspiring section. I found a greater impact in this approach.

Don’t chase the numbers on social media, seek meaningful connections

This was the year I took X somewhat seriously, especially in the second half of the year. I went against the common advice to grow rapidly and wrote what I truly cared about, despite often being perceived as abstract. It was mostly about the Designer Mindset. I didn’t grow to the tens of thousands of followers. I didn’t care for that, but I built meaningful connections with a few people that I will make the effort to stay in touch with for life. I'm grateful for that.

Don’t let social media change you

We always talk about being authentic, however it is mostly empty talk. The desire to have a bigger number in our follower section beats the idea of authenticity. As a result, most do what gets likes even though that content may go against their worldview.

Remember:
“If you are not being truly yourself, what it meant for you won’t be able to find you”

Go out more with people

As an introvert, I find crowds and social activities pretty draining. However this year I made extra effort to join as many social events and meet as many people as I could.  I made amazing connections, built relationships on a personal level, and had fun conversations, activities with people. It has been greatly rewarding for my well-being and confidence.

Articulate your thoughts the way you want

While I was writing the LettersFromADesigner eBook, I was hesitant about whether it would offend people, or if the language I used would make the message I was trying to convey unattractive. However, I didn’t want to change the way I would say just to satisfy the way how traditional books do. I said it with a bit of tough love, as I said to myself.

People found it refreshing, honest, and direct. I’m relieved and grateful for that.

Time spent with family is never a wasted time

I failed quite a few projects this year;

- Consistency in this newsletter
- Updating uijar.com
- Finishing the first draft of Designer Mindset Book
- Publishing the podcasts I recorded
- Releasing FinalVer UI Kit.
the list goes on...

Yes, I could hassle through at weekends to complete most of those. Perhaps you could put forward a good and convincing argument that I should have done so. I wouldn’t have any strong logical response to that when you look from the business perspective as most do.

Instead, I chose to spend the weekends with my family. Going to museums, walking in parks, taking my kids to a cafe with books, painting, playing video games, even just sitting around…

Whenever I feel the urge to get back at my side projects at a weekend, I remind myself how fast my kids are growing! Years pass like days. We have only about 16-17 years with them throughout their hopefully ~80 years of journey. Then they go to university, move out to their own home, and so on… I will have so many years that I will miss them! So while I have them here, I want to make the most of it. I can always write my book later, update side projects regularly, publish podcasts later, what I won't have later is the time with my kids.

So I’m feeling deeply happy with my choice of keeping family above everything else while I can.

Focus on fewer than many

As I mentioned above, I was aspiring to do a lot in 2023 and I could do by putting in more working hours, but I chose not to do so as I kept family first. I often found myself questioning if I should spread myself thin and do many things in parallel, which I’m used to, or focus on fewer things.

I have started giving a try to the latter approach and decided to focus on Writing Books for Designers. This enabled me to go deeper in the subject matter and I found this approach greatly satisfying. So, no more juggling between 10 things, but deep diving into max 2.

Helping others to design can be more satisfying than designing myself

I have mentored and coached designers at any level from aspiring designers to Senior and Director levels for many years. They have seen great results from these relations and excelled in their career. However these interactions were at the conversational level, the other party had to create opportunities and take action. I always wanted to go beyond conversations to help.

This year I hesitantly took the “Manager” role for a few designers. I was hesitant because I was warned that it would take significant time and focus from my craft. Very quickly, I found the vast satisfaction of creating opportunities and environments for designers to grow and have more fun with design. I was able to go beyond words and actually shape teams, projects in an ideal way for these designers to practise and grow certain skills, mostly human skills such as confidence, communication, resilience, and they did. I fell in love with this side of design and I’m looking forward to having more impact on more designers' journeys.

More Silence than Noise

There is a lot to consume out there, from podcasts to YouTube videos, movies, social media posts and more. It is very easy to fall into the trap of hopelessly trying to catch up with all of them and to do so, we don’t let our EarPods leave our ears and constantly fill our brain with media. The common idea is to "add more to be more". However, what it does is just creating noise and shallowness.

I've eliminated a lot of noise in 2023. I removed my EarPods and directed my eyes to the real world over constant lights from YouTube.

I gave my “self” time and space to process and reflect on what I read and experienced. I went deeper than wider. I learned a lot about myself with this approach. I learned a lot more from the fewer things than I would from overwhelming many.

I’m definitely going to be practising this more, increasingly…

Conclusion

There is a lot more to go over, but I’m going to stop here for now. I’m happy to share more if you like to read such personal insights. Please let me know by replying to this email.

So,

Be unapologetically yourself.
Write! Your dreams, fears, experiences, reflections, worldview…
Prioritise family over everything else.
Grow in meaningful connections over numbers.
Give your mind and heart the time and space to process what you’ve already engaged with.
Help others, you may find love in there.
Engage with fewer meaningful over consuming many shallow

With Love
Oykun