It’s ok to not have all the answers

I have a very analytical, methodical and logical mind.

The certainty of factual information to provide answers has to be very high for me or at the very least way I need to be able to weigh up the odds in favour of being right before I do something.

The need to analyse data and behaviour every single day is something I’ve never been able to stop, I now do it without even thinking and this happens both online and offline.

Having a logical mind requires me to have correct and valid reasoning for pretty much everything, both at work and at home.

The traits I’ve identified above don’t often sit well when I come across something where I don’t know everything about it or don’t have data and analysis to hand. There’s been a couple of times over the past few years where I’ve let this get to me — and I’ve almost felt that I should just give up because I don’t know enough.

And you know what, it’s so easy to give up. It means you don’t have to do anything. You can get back into your comfortable place where everything is rosy. There are no problems to solve and no stress to gain.

I’ve read quite a bit about this subject recently where people have said “Don’t worry, I’ve no idea what I’m doing.”

That doesn’t help someone like me who doesn’t just want to know, but I need to know or I’ll internally combust.

Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with the ‘not knowing’ even when the pressure is on when you’ve got other incredible talents around you in and out of teams.

Firstly let me clear something up. In a literal sense, if you didn’t know what you were doing you’re likely lacking in the skills to be in that role in the first place as you ‘literally’ don’t know what you’re doing.

You should always know what you’re doing but you might not always know or have the answers straight away. And you know what, that’s ok. Don’t worry.

Things to Help

Trust your team

If you work on a design team you’ll have other professionals around you have felt or are feeling the exact same way as you. Trust in the communication of your team to discuss the challenge at hand and find a way forward.

If you’re a freelancer, speak to other freelancers. If you’re completely alone then reach out to anyone that you can to hear you out.

Have a process

As creatives we generally have a process for just about anything and everything. As part of a design team, we at TJ have a set design process that we work through which helps us to figure things out.

A lot, and I mean a lot of research is done up front in our team. This helps alleviate the ‘not knowing’ as we generally have something to work with based on the the research. We’ll always have a baseline amount of data to go off.

Trust your gut

Over time you build up a sixth sense, you can just tell that one direction is the right direction to go in or you know two and it is worth testing.

Trust in your gut but don’t assume for too long that you’re right. Test those assumptions as quickly as you can.

Practice what you preach

The more you do something the more you learn, the more you learn the more you know. In our industry, in our roles we will never know everything, but we can continue to feed on information that we’re presented with and build links between them to better inform us in the future.

It’s ok…

It’s ok to not have all the answers straight away. Those folks on teams you’re admiring, they likely don’t have the answers upfront either, they’ve just found a way to make the process easier of getting them.

We pressurise ourselves too much to know all the answers. Don’t. The stress in doing so will hinder your ability to find them.

You might not have all the answers now, but you will in time.