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Article: 7 Signs Your Design Career Might Be In Trouble

7 Signs Your Design Career Might Be In Trouble

You may not be aware, but your design career might be on the edge of doomsday.
How can we know when we're in trouble? Here some signs to look out for!

You may not be aware, but your design career can be in trouble. It may come as a surprise, especially when you just started in the business and everything seems to be going okay. At a glance, your design career may look okay. 

Many people forget that a design career can be highly demanding and very time-consuming. It can cause trouble if you are slow to adapt or even don't know how to meet up with the expectations. 

To most people, these signs happen when they started feeling the burnout of the industry. After days of focusing on a project, it's natural to feel burnout. Anyhow, it should come as a warning when burnout feels longer than usual.


How to Spot the Signs

The questions you need to ask are about when and how to see the signs. Keep your eyes peel to notice one of the signs. The sooner you noticed these signs, the sooner you can do something about it and find a viable solution. Keep an open mind for all possibilities.

Some of these signs are subtle and easy to be swept under the rug. They can be misunderstood as signs of having a burnout. Keep in mind that when you have burnout signs longer than they should be, then there is a big possibility that your design career is in trouble.

How big the trouble is depending on how firm you are in your career. It makes no difference if you are already a decade in the industry or just started. Career burnout can happen to anyone. But remember that you will be deep in trouble the longer you ignore the sign.

The trouble may persist for a while. But it's not a reason to just give up as soon as you see the sign and think about the trouble you will face. 

As mentioned earlier, the sooner you can spot the signs of trouble, the sooner you can solve it. The decision is in your hand, do you want to continue your career in design, or do you want to explore another field.


7 Signs of Troubles

These signs are markers that your design career is in trouble. But no need to fret and overthink it. Instead, use these signs as a way to plan your design career in the future. Keep in mind that trouble doesn't make it to stay.

1. The Career Progress Is Stalling

The first sign of being in trouble in trouble is when there is no significant progress in your design career. It's not only about scoring a new project but about the longevity and variety of the project. 

Many other things work as a sign that your design career is at a stall. You could be stuck in a project for so long that you're unaware of other things. Regardless of the project length, there should be a chance for you to advance your career.

Many people think that a career stall only happens when working in a design firm. But having a career as a freelancer also can stunt your career growth as you are more likely to work with similar materials and have a small chance to explore other designs.

Anyhow, you are the one who knows how much trouble you have when starting seeing signs that your design career is on a halt. Therefore, you are the one who understands what you can do to overcome it.

At any rate, before there are signs of trouble looming ahead, you should start setting up ideas and personal targets to avoid your design career halting. Always look for new ideas to continue pushing your career forward.


2. You Have Trouble With Keeping Up

There is a rise in the number of people who chose design as their career path. And this number continues every year. They bring out new ideas and a fresh take on an existing design. This is inevitable, don't take it as a sign that you will have a gloomy future.

It is normal and okay to feel threatened by the new talents. But this should be the sign for you to have extra motivation to provide a better design for your work. These new talents will keep emerging no matter what. Resisting will only hinder your career progress.

Keeping up with the trend is a two-sided sword. It can add more niche to your portfolio but also bring you trouble at the same time. An expanded portfolio is a sign that you are flexible and able to adapt.

But when you feel like you can't keep up with the design industry. That's when you need to take a break and assessing the trouble with a clear head. See the signs and think of what you can do in the meantime.

To see if there are ways for you to overcome the trouble, you first need to admit that there is one and try to figure out the cause. It can be something personal or the high demand in the industry that hinders you from learning new skills.

You can join webinars or online classes where you can learn new skills and expand your network. They will also keep you posted on any new trends and make sure that you will stay in the loop for anything related to the industry.

That being said, take the new contenders as the signs that you need to see the new perspective. Treat them as an equal and have a healthy workplace competition. There will be trouble ahead, but nothing you can't manage as long as you noticed the sign before it's too late.


3. You Lose Interest In The Industry

When you are unaware of the changes in your career world, then it could be a sign that you are starting to lose interest in the design industry. This sign can be subtle, as it is easy to brush it off as being too busy with the current design project.

However, do notice that your career path demands that you are staying up to date with the information about the design world. It can be about the new trend or a hint of forecasting of what will be a popular design in the year to come.

It may sound impossible to lose interest in the design industry when being surrounded by people who share the same career path. But it can happen a lot sooner than you thought, especially when you ignore the sign of being oversaturated with the industry news. 

Having a design career doesn't mean that you only have eyes for the industry and everything related. You should take a look at other possibilities and see the chance of implementing new ideas into the project you are having now.

If that still doesn't work, then you can look for other alternatives to solve the trouble. You could take a break and mingle with people outside of your current circle. There are many ways to solve this trouble.

Losing your interest can be taken as a sign of burnout trouble. But if that happens for a long time, you can lose your passion for the industry, and by that time, you are forced to seek another path in life.

To avoid being in that much trouble, make sure you have a break between projects that enough to clear your mind and bring a fresh perspective to your next project.


4. No New Addition In The Portfolio

It is okay if you have a long-term project in your career. Whether it's working on a design that takes most of your time or has a series of similar design projects coming all at once. But it's trouble when there's no new addition to your portfolio.

The portfolio may reflect how far you have gone in your design career. It could show what type of projects you are mostly involved with. Naturally, you only choose the projects that you know will bring your design career forward.

When you have nothing to add to the portfolio, this is a sign of trouble since you have been conforming to a safe zone. This can be huge trouble when you keep a blind eye on the issue.

Your career will be stuck, and you will be known as a one-type design creator simply because your portfolio is only filled with similar projects. This can spell trouble because the offers you get are limited, and that can stunt your career growth.

Building a design career starts with having an impressive and diverse portfolio. Try to have a new project worth adding at least once a year. If you are just starting in the business and that seems too much of a trouble, then set a viable target that you can reach.

If you think to be in the design business for a lifetime, then you should figure out how your portfolio should grow. When you have done so, then you wouldn't have much trouble progressing in the business.


5. You Have The Wrong Focus

When you have to ask yourself why you are in the design industry more often than before, then you have the wrong career focus. 

It may seem impossible to notice the signs of being off-focused on your design career. After all, you have been focusing on giving your client the best design. However, being off-focused is not the same as being on the wrong track. You can be on the right path all along but not aware of the signs that are saying your focus and motivation have changed along the way.

Once you have noticed the sign that you're on the wrong focus, you can dispel the trouble by refocusing your mind on your career. Think clearly if you are in the industry because you love the design or because of something else.

Your design career may start well and show no signs of being off-focused. But losing interest and the work suddenly became more demanding than before; those are the early signs of trouble.

Another sign of having the wrong focus is when you are only thinking about money. While income is an important factor, but it shouldn't be the only thing to have in mind. When you're only focused on how much you'll get, you will quickly feel burnout.

More trouble will follow if you ignore the signs of being off-focus. But since it can be difficult to notice, make sure that you have a better hold on your professional focus to stay on track.


6. You Keep Having Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations can happen both ways. It can be based on your previous career record that shows how great you are at what you do. But it also because the client demands a lot from you.

At any rate, it's unhealthy to continue nursing an unrealistic expectation. To avoid further trouble, it is best to make it clear from the start what you're capable of doing. The design industry can be quite harsh, so keep an open mind and be flexible with the client's requests.

Anyhow, having a career in the design industry doesn't mean always submitting to the client's wishes. It is your task to translate their wishes into a working design. But there is a big difference between translating and being total subservient.

Some people may think that keeping a design career means having total submission to the client. But that is a wrong idea. You need to tell the client what you are capable of doing. It's best to avoid trouble in the future by insinuating that all of their wishes will be met.

Make sure that you keep communicating with the client and ensure that the design you create will follow their direction and wishes. But don't forget to give them suggestions as well as stay open to any criticism.

Instead of speaking with signs and hints, you should communicate the progress as well as the trouble you have while working on the project. By keeping a good relationship with the client, you can ensure that you will be contacted for their new project.

Think ahead of what you can do to keep your design career going. Keeping unrealistic expectations will only attract trouble instead of solving it. You will be burdened with more demands and more trouble soon. Therefore, as soon as you notice the signs, it is best to start working to solve the trouble.


7. The Niche Is On The Decline

Being specialized in a niche can be a good thing. But it also can spell trouble for your design career. Especially when your niche is slowly on a decline, but take it as inevitable trouble since the industry always follows a trend.

The design industry is not immune to having a trend. So, expect a time where your specialized niche is on a decline. It could spell as trouble for your design career, but it is far from being signs of future trouble.

Since the trend is always recycling, you can expect it to re-appear after a couple of years. Also, keep in mind that a decline doesn't mean completely wiped out. There is always a small part of the industry for any kind of niche.

You can see the signs when a niche starts to decline. After a big spike in demand, it will slowly start the decline slope. But rest assured that this trouble you're about to face is not going to stay.

Work your best to read the signs of the decline. That way, you can prepare to avoid being deep in trouble. Read the room to notice the signs. They are most likely to be everywhere, waiting to be noticed.

That being said, you have to remember that the trouble caused by a declining niche is only temporary. As long as you stay focused on your career and keep churning out a great design, you will be just fine. 


Focus On Your Design Career's Future

Stay calm and remember that noticing these signs does not necessarily mean that your career is in deep trouble. Some people may have it harsh and have multiple of these signs all at once. But some people only notice one of them.

Do not underestimate these signs and take it just like regular burnouts. Remember that it's your design career at stake here. Anyhow, there are ways to work around these signs. They are far from being trouble.

Think about how you want to advance your career. See the signs of impending trouble as a way to expand your skills and figure out what you want in life. Think about how you want your design career to be in the future.



If you plan to make your design career continue for a couple of decades, you need to keep a fresh perspective on many things. Not only related to the business but also everything else that can spark your interest. 

Keeping new interests will not only keep you out of trouble, as it will take a while for burnout to happen. You will be faster at noticing the signs of burnout and can take the necessary action to deal with them. Lastly, don't forget to enjoy all process and cheers!

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