Windows of opportunity

Windows of opportunity

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

There’s a school of thought that says your opportunities narrow as you get older. This might be true in terms of career advancement, but I’m not so sure about that. In Lucy Kellaway’s new book Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband & my hair,* she tells the story of reaching 57 and deciding that she should make the most of what time she has left.

Her life-changing decisions weren’t the result of a cancer scare (as is often the case), or the death of a loved one, but were prompted by finding a house that she really, really loved. As a columnist for the Financial Times, she had the chance to purchase her dream house, and this was the beginning of an amazing new life. Finding the cash to buy the house involved leaving her husband, with whom she had a cordial but not especially close relationship. He had already moved into the basement of their Georgian house and they had and grown-up children.

I was fascinated by the idea of falling in love with a house and was amazed to find that you can actually see her iconic house on a design website, complete with the long orange bench top she describes in the book.

After buying The Frame House she leaves her job at the Financial Times to train as a secondary school teacher. This is a hard slog and there are many times that she wonders what on earth she has done! There’s a lot in the book about how the education system works and how hard teachers work.

The book made me feel a bit like an under-achiever although on the upside; I have a penchant for books in which people (mainly women) reinvent themselves, so I enjoyed it immensely.

It made me think about all the things in my life that I’ve put on the back-burner until I have time to do them. Time is something I have plenty of at the moment and luckily I don’t dream of becoming an astronaut, but I still have aspirations to be fitter and healthier, make really awesome sponge cakes, write a book, and maybe start a small business. All these things are possible and not very costly, so it’s not money holding me back but a lack of focus and low self-confidence, both of which I could overcome with a bit more determination and some more self-love.

One of my friends has just started learning Spanish and I know better than to ask her why. I know she is doing it because she wants to. She told me she lived in Spain many years ago and spent most of her time drinking in bars and dancing until the wee small hours. These are excellent things to do in your twenties, but now she’s in her sixties and she wants to travel around the countryside, talk to people and eat the beautiful food. Priorities change. I hope she’ll get back there one day, but even if she doesn’t, she’s enjoying coming first in her Spanish class.

So without wanting to sound like a motivational speaker, if you have some dreams in your bottom drawer, get them out and dust them off because there’s never a better time to do something interesting.

*This book is only available as an ebook. The hard copy will be published on September 21, 2021.

Never stop learning

cropped-shutterstock_463036362.jpgWhen I started this blog many years ago my focus was on explaining the principles of design in plain English. I had just enrolled in a graphic design degree and I was really at the start of my learning journey in relation to design. I didn’t actually finish that degree, but it didn’t matter as I wasn’t planning to be a graphic designer and I already have quite a few degrees, so it wasn’t as if I needed another qualification.

My motivation was that I was developing presentations and I felt that my design skills were lacking. The subjects I completed were pretty good and helped me to understand all of the basic principles of design. It all fed my ongoing interest in clarity and communication. I still feel a bit bad about ditching the course, but on the bright side I’ve never for one moment stopped learning. In my view there’s nothing better than learning new things. Continue reading “Never stop learning”

Not really that creative

 

HB graphite pencils Deutsch: Bleistifte der St...
HB graphite pencils Deutsch: Bleistifte der Stärke HB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When I am delivering my presentation design course a lot of people tell me that they would love to develop their design skills but that they are ‘not really that creative’. As I have mentioned before, I find this quite amusing as I am not really that creative myself. Some people are born with flair, but most of us have to work at developing their design skills. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to me.

 

About eighteen months ago I enrolled in a Bachelor of Graphic Design course so that I could develop my design skills. Since then I have struggled through the course, one subject at a time, and I must say it’s not talent or good results that makes me continue, just dogged perseverance and an unwillingness to give up or give in. I’m not sure if I am improving or becoming more creative, but I am learning a lot and I think that putting the principles into practice must surely pay off in the long run. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be studying for the next ten years or until I think I have a good enough grasp on the subject matter to forge ahead under my own steam.

 

What I have noticed since I started the course is that I’m a lot more tuned in to design. I notice colours and patterns. I appreciate beautiful packaging, I admire wine labels and linger over well designed websites. I see a lot more beauty around me and I think that’s a good thing.

 

I think one of the tricks to being creative is to develop an appreciation of what works and to be able to articulate why something works, rather than just liking it. My design course has helped me do that by introducing me to the rules and principles of the craft. Writing this blog has also provided me with the opportunity to share some of the things I’m learning about.

 

I would be very interested to know what you think about creativity. Do you have any thoughts on this topic or are there any topics that you think I should be writing about? I’d love to hear from you.