Get Off Your Buts

👋 Making a career change can quickly spiral into self-doubt and uninspired feelings.

Today’s lesson is about pulling yourself out of that spiral by recognizing and leveraging your limiting beliefs. Let’s get to it.👇

This Lesson Starts With A Story

I’ve had the privilege of speaking at SXSW a few times. The most enjoyable part is spending time with guests afterward to answer questions.

I remember one guest, a middle-aged women, who waited long after the presentation and until everyone else asked their questions.

She then approached and told me she wanted to launch her career as a designer.

She told me she felt inspired by the ideas in my presentation, but, she didn’t know how apply the practices to her life.

Her story sounded a bit like this:

“But my small town has limited clients.”

“But there is a lot of competition from established designers.”

“But I don’t have a portfolio.”

“But I’m older and less hip”

“But I just need some experience to get started.”

We stood in the empty hallway and I said,

“Look, you need to get off your buts.


The Art Of Reframing

This week’s exercise is called Get Off Your Buts. It introduces the invaluable problem solving practice of reframing.

Reframing is about looking at the challenge with different perspectives to find a better problem to solve.

Let’s review the ‘buts’ from our SXSW guest:

  • new designer, no network

  • limited portfolio of work

  • small town with few clients

  • competing firms in town

  • age bias

Reframing is about flipping these ‘buts’ from liabilities and obstacles into assets and advantages?

  • How might you use a give-first mindset to build your network?

  • How might you start building a body of work without clients?

  • How might you make big noise in your small town?

  • How might you turn competition into collaboration?

  • How might you view your age as a position of leadership?

Reframing can feel unfamiliar. A helpful tip is to steal inspiration.

Here’s the big idea: you can study, remix, and transform adjacent and unrelated ideas to help address your unique challenges (see more in Austin Kleon’s TED talk or book).

Look to where someone has already found ways over, around, and through similar situations.

To help this aspiring designer, we stole inspiration from Design Marathon.

👆Logo from the Charlottesville Design Marathon

Design Marathon is a day-long event inviting local nonprofits to pitch a design need to local designers who then form small teams to tackle the need. It is a fun, community building day of creative philanthropy.

  • An event like this is a give-first mindset.

  • The Design Marathon concept reframes competitors as collaborators.

  • Lots of work is created in a weekend, without formal clients.

  • In a small town, this event will be news!

  • As an event organizer, her age is an asset.


Mindset Manifest Possibility

With Design Marathon, this upstart designer can create a meaningful event for her community and invite serendipity into her career.

She will meet nonprofits and design firms who may have small projects ideal for new designers. Perhaps some of the work started during the event will result in follow-up projects. She may discover alternative jobs where a designer’s eye is valued.

Get Off Your Buts helps to flip negative self-doubt into a positive outlook. With practice, your brain begins to build the mental models that default to reframing toward possibilities.

Before hurrying to her next SXSW session, this designer looked up from her notes with a new energy and said;

Oh yes, I can totally do this!”


You Can Do This Too.

🗺 Get the Guide: Free step-by-step worksheet, ready to print 😁

Get The Guide

Get more activities like this and all the latests news and events from the West Slope Works community.