By Weaam Hassan Published in Journal, Product Design Journal


No alarm clock needed. My passion wakes me up.
– Eric Thomas

We’ve all struggled to get motivated. To feel motivated. And the toughest of them all… to STAY motivated.

Why is it so difficult? Especially after graduating.

It wasn’t difficult when we kept pushing forward to complete our product design degrees. It wasn’t difficult when our final design graduation project felt like an endless process.

Sure enough, it wasn’t difficult when our design concepts were criticised.

So what has changed after completing our degrees?

We went from feeling inspirational and fearless design students to feeling demotivated and quite frankly lost graduates.

Life! That’s what happened.

It suddenly dawned on me on what I was facing when I received hundreds of rejections from design companies. Millions of graduates were applying for jobs and each one wanted to get noticed as bad as I did.

My product design degree certificate that took so much work to achieve became nothing more than a plain old sheet of paper with my name on it.

Suddenly panic sets in and like most friends and university colleagues, we find ourselves distracted. We lose the motivation and what we always wanted to become seems like a distant memory.

If you’re looking to get help to stay focused on your journey as a product designer then these 6 ways will come in handy…


I’ve been in different roles. I’ve been a Graphic Designer, a Junior Recruiter, an Assistant Project Worker, an Event Organiser, and finally a Sales Assistant at a convenient store.

All of which are part of my story, despite whether I enjoyed them or not.

During the different job experiences, I discovered that the roles that I enjoyed doing, made me feel in control. I felt motivated, I felt happy, and most importantly I had time to focus on my design career.

We love what we do.

We’re having fun and working from within in.

Loving-what-you-do-as-a-product-designerThere’s nothing fake about it. We all know how complex a design process can get, but with that motivation and determination that you have towards designing products, staying motivated becomes effortless.

Doing what you love… designing, sketching, modelling, making, all these design skills help you stay motivated. And maintaining this pleasant feeling plays a huge part in our creativity.

Its just you and your true passion… DESIGNING.

But for the rest of us who are yet to step into the design industry, we need to take control.

Take control of what sort of job is well suited to our skills and abilities. And what sort of job will give us the time to focus on our design careers.

So we still are able to follow our true passion with or without a 9-5 job that we enjoy doing.


If you don’t know where you’re going and why you’re doing it – then it doesn’t matter where you’ll end up. You’ll need to know why because you’re going to need to stay focused.

You’re reason why is your mission.


When you think what other people say about you, then you’re weak because you haven’t got a mission. A reason why. A purpose.

When you have a reason why, you won’t have time wondering what other people say about you. You won’t waste time with cynics and haters. You won’t waste time with people trying to shove their way on you.

You won’t get distracted.

That’s what I mean by being weak.

There were times in my mentorship when I just wanted to quit. Little things got to me and emotionally I couldn’t handle it.

I was still in shock of the reality of life after university.

My mentor allowed me to have the time to feel sorry for myself and accept what had happen to me, but then months down the line he became firm with me.

He’d give constructive feedback in a way that was harsh and direct, but it made me turn my pain into power to get back up.

He reminded me about my reason why consistently.

He toughened me up for the real world, and taught me how to hold on to my ‘reason’… which was my love for design and to provide my family with a better life.

‘The reason why you don’t give 120% every time, cause you ain’t got a ‘why’ for what you do!’  – Eric Thomas

Your reason why will propel you forward but you need measurable actions to help you to do that….


You may find yourself becoming a little bit lazy and demotivated. You don’t do it deliberately, but it happens to most of us after university.

So you’re not alone.

One of the reasons we feel demotivated and become lazy is because the pressure from university has disappeared.

We’re not carrying any stress with us any more. No more deadlines. No more presentations. No more all-nighters.

It’s just you designing whatever you want, whenever you feel like it.

That sounds relaxing right?

But there comes a time when not having something to work towards too becomes boring and unchallenging.

As product designers who love a challenge, reaching this point can unfortunately effect our motivation, inspiration, and creativity.

And that’s the last thing we want to happen as designers.

So to avoid reaching this point and wasting more precious time create realistic and exciting goals for your future.

Define measurable long- term goals and break it down to short bite size weekly goals.

  • Know what outcome you desire and figure out what helps you achieve these outcomes through experience when doing the work. Always measure what is getting you the results.
  • Identify what you need to get rid of to make room for what you want. It sounds selfish but those who know you’re building your future and respect your space will understand.

    Those who don’t, don’t matter. This will include people you associate with. Those who say you’re selfish are the ones who are the MOST selfish. They are not helping you in achieving the outcome.

  • Ask yourself what you can do to improve your performance in achieving your goals in a more effective and efficient way…

Why? Because you are a product designer who wants to feel:

  • In control of your life.
  • Energised to create awesome design concepts.
  • Reassured that your future ahead of you is looking inspirational.

That’s why Adam Taha asked me to write a list of what I wanted to achieve in the future and stick it on my wall.

So that every time I look at it, I’d get inspired and motivated to get to the finishing goal.

Every time I stare at my list, I get this rush of excitement and can’t wait to get stuck in.

Reading through my list is part of my daily routine now.

It’s like medicine for me.

I visualise my future and a few minutes later I get this rush of self-assurance. I know that some of my goals will take years to achieve, but that’s ok. I look at them today and have this strength of motivation to keep me pushing forward.



Don’t let other people in your lives tell you that you can’t make your dreams come true.

NEVER DO THAT. It’s not their dreams. Their yours. So protect them. People who care for you will support you.

Unfortunately there will be people you will come across in your life that will want to destroy your inner self confidence. Which will make you doubt your dreams.

If you do come across those kinds of people, the best approach is to make sure you got a purpose and to visualise until you can feel, see, and hear your dreams. If you haven’t a mission you’ll let anything get to you.

Just consistently visualise your dream. Hear what you want to hear. Feel what you want to feel.

If you have a challenge figuring out what you want to see then you need to go out, take a walk, visit places that can help you see what it is you want to achieve in your life..

For example, here is how you can start to visualise…

SEE yourself sitting with your design team.
HEAR yourself confidently explaining one of your concepts to the team.
FEEL the touch of your cool prototype that just came out of a 3D Printer.

Look at the overall purpose on the lifestyle, financial freedom and life it will give you and then expand from there.

You need to see it to want it.

Make whatever it is you want to achieve crystal clear in your mind.


We all want success. No one wants to fail. We all want to be happy. We all want our dream to happen.

And yet, everyone finds it difficult to make the change or we try but something is preventing us.

Then we got the ever growing cynics, haters, doubters and the fear we see over and over again on headlines.

So what’s going on?

We are not taking care of one of the most important part of achieving success. Our self talk.

For example, I have no doubt that many of us designers have said something along these lines to ourselves in school, in university, and in our design career today…

“I can’t do this. I can’t sketch like other designers…”
“I’m not good enough to follow up this design brief…”
“They have more design skills and qualifications than me…”
“I’m going to fail this project; they’re not going to like it…”
“I can’t do this project; I haven’t got enough resources…”

All these negative phrases are just words and phrases. They are thoughts which shape our attitude, perception and our behaviour.

They play our mind at an unconscious level like old DVDs.

Negative programs that will impact our emotions and our emotions dictates the way we behave in different situations.

We somehow constantly repeat this cycle.

We say a positive thing about ourselves followed by a thousand negative thoughts that hold us back. We put ourselves down. We harshly criticise ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves.

Saying negative things like this to ourselves day in day out can and will affect our self esteem and self confidence. Which gradually will have a huge impact in our motivation.

Then we wonder why we can’t stay motivated. Well now you know one of the reasons.
It’s you. Your own self talk.

So to break this miserable cycle we need to start working on our self talk. To make it more positive to help us stay motivated as graduates.

It’s not an overnight process, but being consistent with it will make a difference. It will also make the journey in finding your dream design job more proactive than behaving like a victim.

The one step that helped me change my self talk wasn’t just saying positive things to myself when I felt like it, but to also write a script that I read to myself every morning.

I still do it, because its part of my daily routine now.

I wake up and the first thing I do is stare at my script which by the way is stuck on my door. I stare at it until I feel ready to read it out load to myself…

I read it slowly and feel every word that comes out of my mouth.

After reading it I immediately close my eyes and visualise myself doing the work and achieving the success I desire.

As though it already happened.

Usually I see myself in the middle of a design meeting with my team around a table.

Sketches scattered around and the team bouncing design concepts from one end to other.

But the important thing that I see is myself happy and confident. Standing up with my head held high and doing what I love.

Being consistent with talking to yourself in a positive way will help you stay motivated. I know it sounds bizarre… ‘talking to yourself’, but it works.

Don’t shout it out for people to hear. Or tell people “Yes I am the best” No, that is just being arrogant. Its you and yourself.

Because if you can’t boost yourself up from within, no one will do it.

There will be videos, quotes, motivators, family members and so on who can make you feel motivated.

But it all comes down to you. Be positive to yourself…

#6 REWARD YOURSELF AND KEEP MOVING FORWARDrewarding-yourself-as-a-product-designer

It is easy to find yourself achieving a goal and then stop. Instead you need to keep moving forward while rewarding yourself.

You’re doing this for you and you’re not waiting for validation, acceptance or to fit in with any group. You got a purpose, goals and you’re taking stock of all the steps I’m sharing here.

However, you can still reward yourself in a way that helps you feel great. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, weeks and all that.

Here’s some suggestions…

  • Take yourself out and eat breakfast at some cafe.
  • Call a friend and go out together in the weekend.
  • Be unproductive for a day to just relax.
  • Take a walk in the park.
  • Go and watch your favourite movie.
  • Take a field trip, museums, galleries and festivals.

You can even give back if it makes you feel great.

Whatever it is you need to reward yourself with – make sure it’s not going to take you away for too long from your goals.

Keep moving forward.


Weaam Hassan, passion in product design is focused on the human perception of beauty and interaction with the consumer. So not only must the product be pleasing to the eye, feel, smell, touch but also comfortable in the daily life of the user. She documents her journey in finding a job with an agency, while sharing the process of her product design work on her website.

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