I love writing about design and business, but sometimes I want a break from it to talk about other things. This article is half mindset work and half practical advice and relates to life just as much as it does your business.

The number one thing that I hear from prospective clients when I ask them “so what is your goal for this design” is usually something along the lines of “Well…I’m supposed to have this!” or “All my competitors have one”. The only problem with this is their business might not actually need whatever it is they’re asking about!

I understand that belonging is something that is important. It’s so important that it’s part of behaviorist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

We want to be part of a group and to be accepted. Unfortunately, that means we do a lot of things without really thinking about WHY we’re doing them.  We do them because “It’s Tradition!” or something we’re “supposed to do”.

I call this the Supposed to Life. The things we do for no other reason than “we are supposed to”. It goes a little deeper than that for many of us.  Here’s an example – If you’re anything like me you’ve met people who have their whole life mapped out. They’ll have the dream job, buy a house, get married, and have kids all by certain milestone ages and the same goes for business owners too. They’ll start their business and within a short period of time, they’ll be making 6 figures or more.

While I’m all for goals, this very rigid linear thinking can get us in trouble if we don’t hit those milestones by the ages we set.

For some, they will just do whatever the item is like a checklist so they can feel accomplished only to discover they’re deeply unhappy. For others who miss milestones by their goal age, it can cause them to feel like a failure. That “I’m a failure” mindset or attitude can translate into bad habits that can work as a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

Side note: Failure happens, missing goals happens. It doesn’t mean you will NEVER get there; it means you haven’t gotten there YET.

It also means people are doing things because “everyone else is doing it” not because it’s the right choice for them or their business.

Why am I telling you this because somewhere out there is a business owner who is fretting right now because “everyone else’s business is doing better than mine” and instead of taking a hard look at what they’re doing to evaluate what’s working or not working they will start to create designs or launch programs because “the big companies are doing this and they have lots of money.” They will ignore the fact that these businesses have very different goals, ideal clients, and marketing strategies than they do.

I know, I was one of them for a long time. I would lay awake at night and wonder what was wrong with my business. I would work at odd hours, listen to all of the (sometimes wrong) advice instead of my instincts, and forgo my boundaries because that’s what I felt I was “supposed to do” to reach success. I launched things I was supposed to that flopped and didn’t launch things I should have.

I can tell you first-hand doing something (or not doing something) because you feel like you’re supposed to is a horrible strategy and it makes you feel horrible too. No matter how well designed the advertisement is or how beautiful the brochure or how amazing the offer is, if there is no real strategy to back it up, it’s not going to do what you hope it will do.

If you don’t know how to put together a marketing strategy, your choices are to either learn how, find someone to hire, or both. It benefits you (and me as your designer and anyone else you bring on board) in the long run if you’re creating offers and designing advertising that has a strong marketing strategy behind it.

Business isn’t a pair of shorts with an elastic waistband where “one size fits most”. It’s very tailored to key factors that are different for each business based on size, industry, values, and goals.

You’re a lot more likely to get the results you want without feeling stressed out. Don’t live the Supposed to Life where you do things because everyone else is doing them. Don’t do it to fit in or to feel good. Do it because you’ve done the work and learned the lessons and you know it will serve your business.

If your business has a great marketing strategy, but you are ready to see how graphic design can massively uplevel your impact and income, drop me an email & I’ll hook you up with a FREE 1:1 Branding & Design Strategy Session where we’ll chat about your business, your goals, give you tips on how design can get you where you want to be and see if working together makes sense!