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6. Get unstuck in your career and stand up to impostor syndrome by taking action with Samanta Aquino

In this episode, I have a fun conversation with Samanta Aquino, a product designer, creator, and mentor based in Stockholm. Samanta is a Latina product designer based in Stockholm Sweden. She's passionate about web accessibility and helping designers overcome their career struggles.

Rizwan Javaid
Rizwan Javaid
32 min read
6. Get unstuck in your career and stand up to impostor syndrome by taking action with Samanta Aquino

In this episode, I have a fun conversation with Samanta Aquino, a product designer, creator, and mentor based in Stockholm. Samanta is a Latina product designer based in Stockholm Sweden. She's passionate about web accessibility and helping designers overcome their career struggles.

A few highlights from our conversation:

  • If you feel stuck then take action towards what inspires you. Instead of overthinking, take action, learn and adjust along the way.
  • Learn how Samanta stood up to her impostor syndrome by taking charge taking action.
  • Why it helps to come clean about our negative thoughts with someone we trust and how they can put things in perspective for us and help get those negative thoughts out of our head.
  • How Samanta uses affirmations to help her quiet the inner voice and change the dialogue.
  • How mentoring can help you practice the skills needed to reach the next level.
  • Why changing jobs will not always solve the problems we face within and around us. We have to take charge and action where we are.
  • Why setting boundaries is crucial for a designer's mental health and well-being and learn strategies you can use to begin taking your power back at work so you don't become a victim of unrealistic expectations and prevent burnout.
  • Why you should take time off before you burn out and have no choice to take it.

Learn more about Samanta Aquino:


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Episode Transcript

(Machine Generated)

Samanta Aquino  0:00
It's just that dribble really messes with a sensitive spot in many UX designers or product designers and a little bit of generalists. Dribble is very UI, polished, call it, and you go in there, and your UI skills go like did we have to come in here? Why? No!!!! We start comparing ourselves like why? Why doesn't my work look like this? Yeah. Okay, it can be tough, so, you know, navigate safely, everyone.

Rizwan Javaid  0:50
Welcome to the Low Fidelity podcast. I'm your host Rizwan Javaid. In this show, I explore the inner challenges creatives face, such as limiting beliefs, negative thinking, and the dreaded imposter syndrome, just to name a few. I want to help you build a strong mindset with a bias towards action so you can achieve your true creative potential. Why am I talking about these topics? Well, because I'm right there with you. In each episode, I dive into topics such as mindset, creativity, and the craft of design, how to have conversations with creatives to learn actionable strategies to overcome those challenges from their experiences. I want you to know that there is a way forward to overcome these inner challenges and achieve our true potential. So I'm glad you're here with me. And onto today's show.

My guest today is Samantha Aquino. Samanta is a Latina designer based in Stockholm, Sweden. I first met Samantha at the abstractions conference in Pittsburgh a few years ago while presenting a workshop. And recently discovered that Samantha is quite active on Instagram, promoting accessibility within the design. She also takes the time to mentor designers to overcome their career struggles. I'm excited to share with you our conversation today. Welcome to the show, Samantha.

Samanta Aquino  2:28
Thank you Rizwan.

Rizwan Javaid  2:30
It's great to have you here. And I'm excited to have our conversation. But before we get started, I just wanted to learn a little bit, a little bit more about you and how you started in your design career.

Samanta Aquino  2:44
This question, more and more, makes me feel old. Because when I reflect on it, and I compare it, let's say to some of the stories of the newcomers now in the industry, more and more people are transitioning, and they come from other careers. And when it's my turn to share, I'm like, Oh, he kind of always knew what I wanted that I wanted to be involved designing for the web. And back then, in the old times, we call this web design.

Rizwan Javaid  3:19
Don't worry; I'm also from the old times.

Samanta Aquino  3:25
So you know, and maybe you have a similar story in that it all started for me in school in high school specifically. I had a fun site for Sakura car capture. This is an anime that I watched at the time. So I maintained this website. And I was obsessed with creating content for people or just collecting content for people related to this topic. And he was hosted in geo cities. Right? This might be a new term for some listeners. But what this is, is basically an old school, Squarespace or Wix. Right? Yeah. Very old school. It was very kind of messy. Like you were doing a collage type of thing. Not like, let's say, his tools like the front page, which are also really old that it was more like a Word document. So you could see the structure. No, GLCD was more like, you can move anything around. You know, it was like relatively positioned or something.

Rizwan Javaid  4:37
Now you said front page, and that took me way back. Yeah, well, I won't say exactly how far, but yeah, no, I definitely know what you mean. Just, you know, starting at that time. Yeah. So how did you arrive? Is that where you are right now?

Samanta Aquino  5:02
Yes, I am originally from the Dominican Republic; I started my career there. As you mentioned, I had a passion for the web very early on. So I made conscious decisions along the way to land a job that would connect back to that to what I was doing as a hobby as a teenager. And that led me to study graphic design and get a job at an agency. And basically, I was there doing brochure types of websites for different comments, small businesses that wanted to put their information on the web. Not really systems; it wasn't products; you couldn't really do things in these websites that were apps. But I then found a passion for actually building systems, things that people would use for productivity or achieve something. And I also reached a point in my career where I was both a designer and a little bit of a front Ender. Back then front end looked different than today. But yes, front end, back then, and I was burned out or reached a point where I felt not good enough, neither of those not good enough. I decide not good enough. But the front end, why am I what am I doing? Do I even like this career anymore? And that really made me make some drastic decisions. And the main one was to sell everything that I owned and move to the United States to have a connection to that country. And yeah, I'm off to the DMV area. I went to get our assembly there. And that's like the beginning of my career outside of my island.

Rizwan Javaid  7:00
Where's the DMV? Sorry,

Samanta Aquino  7:03
DC, Maryland, Virginia.

Rizwan Javaid  7:06
Perfect. So it wasn't the DMV was DMV.

Samanta Aquino  7:13
When I moved to the area, people kept using this term.

Rizwan Javaid  7:16
And that's good to know; you have this tipping point where you, you knew you had to make a big change. I mean, that's pretty brave of you to take that big step. Can you share a little bit more about that? How did you realize, okay, this is what I need to, this is my direction, this is what I want to be doing.

Samanta Aquino  7:37
I think that your body tells you, you start losing energy, your star starts seeing passion. And I was just dreading doing things that I used to love. So I felt like I had lost my direction. I thought it was very clear. And I wanted to do design for the web. But now, I was questioning things that I had believed were completely true. And it got to the point that I was just going with that flow, just working and just how this will pass or come up up top. But it didn't. So I just had to try something. And I looked at opportunities, maybe other jobs, and nothing really panned out. Nothing was better than what I had at the moment. And I just took action, and outside of my career, I had always wanted to move to the United States. I wanted to study in the United States, but it was not affordable for me for my family. So I didn't do it earlier in my life. So I just took that moment in my life at a crossroads. Like I either do it now or never. That's how I prioritize it.

Rizwan Javaid  9:03
Nice. Yeah. You talked about taking action A lot of times, you know, we kind of get feel like we're stuck in our situation. And think that this is it. This is my reality. This is my world. I am taking action. I feel like that's the one thing that can get us out of that mindset. I know I've been there too, where you feel like this is it. There's nothing else, and this is how it's going to be. But it's good to know that you kind of broke out of that mindset. And you took action, which is key.

Samanta Aquino  9:41
Yes. And you've reminded me of these quotes from a book. I don't know the name of the book now. But the thing the message was basically that answers don't reveal themselves by thinking they are revealed to you by doing so, you have to just try something, anything, and that really stuck with me because I am an overthinker. And that paralyzes me. And when I internalize that I just have to do something, anything, even if it's a bad plan, I will learn that it's a bad plan and that was a bad step. So that's better than nothing.

Rizwan Javaid  10:19
Yeah, that's I think that's awesome. You know, we can apply that to anything we do is just take action and learn from that action instead of overthinking. And it's, as I think as creative people and designers, we, we live in our heads a lot. We like to overthink and come up with stories and reasons. And but when you get out of it, it is the action that gets us out of that mode of being in our head, and we can actually see what works what doesn't work instead of overthinking things. What inspires you about design,

Samanta Aquino  10:53
I would say, problem finding, I get compliments or observations on that skill of mine that I guess has made me love it more, that I'm good at it, and facilitating helping other people find problems helping not only my users but my co-workers. And most recently, designers, right? That's how I turned into or opened the door to mentoring.

Rizwan Javaid  11:26
You mentioned facilitating; that's something that I just recently started paying attention to is, you know, becoming a better facilitator. Did you practice it? Or did you learn as you went along? Or how did you come to that?

Samanta Aquino  11:42
I think it all started with not wanting to be told what to design. And you have to come up with a way to really get out of people? What is it that you think the problem is? And then let me try to validate whether that's a problem. And let's come up with a solution together. So just turning those meetings of talking with, let's say, with a PMS, like, Oh, what is it that we need to do, but why? And, and really together, figuring out the brief, that was like the beginning of it, and then realizing, yeah, I need to get better at this, I need to practice this, I need to learn methodologies. And also with the that's called the birth of design sprints of the, you know, that became popular, or there are more and more resources on how to do that. Pursuing that learning, reading that book, taking a class on that, I did the AJ + Smart. Oh, is it that? I forget the name right now. But AJ + Smart. They have a course about that. So doing that, just really intentionally, and learning that skill and then applying it at work that I got.

Rizwan Javaid  13:09
What is the biggest achievement that you're proud of? I know, in your storied career as a designer, and I'm sure you have a lot more to Islamic achievements to do. But so far, what is something that you're really proud of?

Samanta Aquino  13:30
It's the opposite. I'm so bad at giving myself credit. So I thank my husband for being the voice of reason there when I'm too hard on myself. It gives me perspective. But you know, what? I'm most proud of finding my way forward in this career, despite originally having very loud imposter syndrome. Also, starting in a market that was lacking opportunities for growth, and realizing, you know why I want to really have a shot at this, how I see people online, doing it, I need to, I need to think elsewhere. I need to do something different than what I'm doing right now. And decided to move and continue to pursue while still dealing with doubts about the career in general. I'm proud of that decision that I made back then.

Rizwan Javaid  14:38
Yeah, I mean, that's, that's a really big step. You know, dealing with imposter syndrome, and the doubt that hack can happen as you move in countries and, you know, moving jobs and you know, all that. That's pretty that's a pretty big achievement. And it's pretty inspiring to know that that's, you know, it's possible, and you've done it. So I think that's a great way to build up your confidence is to take these moments that you have and just build upon them. And to know that it can be done. As you said, you you saw that you know, you hear these stories online. But when you look at your own story, it's hard to believe that you can do it. But you, you've proved to yourself that you were able to do what is pretty inspiring, talking about imposter syndrome and doubt. Do you still deal with that? Or is that something from the past?

Samanta Aquino  15:42
Definitely, it's still dealing with it, but it's way quieter. Now. I mentioned before that it was loud paralyzing, and I think I got better at managing it. And I'd fighting back and standing up to that voice those negative thoughts,

Rizwan Javaid  15:58
how would you suggest people stand up to it? Is there any technique you suggest or something that worked for you,

Samanta Aquino  16:09
Something that I do, always up to this day, is not keeping those thoughts to myself, literally, say them out loud to someone, I call it coming clean, coming clean to someone about them. And, and that's my first line of defense because I have people in my life that do have visibility into my career, into my personal life. And they can really put things in perspective for me and say things to those negative thoughts that I wouldn't say myself, but when I hear other people say, you shouldn't feel this way because of this and this, then I get stronger and better at saying those things to myself and believing it when I say it to myself, instead of always having to rely on someone else to give me that reassurance. But first starting with, yes, if I'm being weak enough in front of these negative thoughts and the imposter syndrome then let's come clean to someone, share it, get out of your head.

Rizwan Javaid  17:15
Yeah, I think that's a good point is get those thoughts out of your head. And you get that validation from others who are closer to you to, you know, to check those thoughts. And instead of keeping them in your head, and you know, how we create stories, and we go down, we just build stories on and, and, and that can hold us back? And I know I do. I've done that a lot. And this is a similar experience that I've had is to share it with others. And they can say no, I don't see this at all. And in fact, you're doing this this this, which is great. So So I guess the lesson is to share with somebody you trust and have them just validate those thoughts get you to know, instead of keeping them in your head?

Samanta Aquino  18:14
Definitely, yeah, they will challenge those thoughts and really give you perspective.

Rizwan Javaid  18:19
Yeah. I know, even like journaling, if you can't find somebody who can share, you can share those thoughts with even like writing those down. To get them out of your head, you're basically dumping everything out of your head instead of sharing with others; if you can find somebody to share with

Samanta Aquino  18:41
that reminds me that another thing that I do is have affirmations visible to me at all times. So in my phone, I have like a widget that changes the affirmation every so many hours alert or earlier today, it was I will let go of all my fears or something like that. And I thought that's timely because it is scary talking on a podcast. So I hope that I feel that by the time, but it happens, and yeah, I think that that is completely managed. So repeating that to myself. And it's unexpected. It changes every once in a while. It always is. It changes the dialogue in my head.

Rizwan Javaid  19:30
Yeah, that's a good point. Well, I mean, I can't tell if this is your first one. We feel it feels like you're a natural and like you've been doing.

This after seeing your Instagram videos, I mean, you're doing pretty good. So you're doing awesome. And you're definitely an inspiration. Keep doing what you're doing, and you know, oh my God, I pray Ain't no It's well deserved. And I really like that idea of getting reminders for ourselves, and you have it on your phone, you know, listeners can also, I can share it in the notes.

Samanta Aquino  20:14
It's called I Am, you know, we

Rizwan Javaid  20:16
need constant reminders. Because you know, we get busy we get, again, we get into our heads, but we need a constant reminder that this is the reality, this is what you are instead of what you're thinking. And so, I think that that would be a great way to, again, overcome some of these challenges we face internally. Every day. And yeah, I actually started. I downloaded a mindfulness Bell app, where it just rings like rings a bell, like, you know, thing. Zen bell, put this bell, and it's just a way to

Samanta Aquino  21:01
You're saying new words to me. Right?

Rizwan Javaid  21:04
Okay. It has a special sound that has a bell? And I don't know, maybe if, if I can play it. Let me play it and see,

Samanta Aquino  21:17
what times do you feel like this is the most soothing to you? And is that is that what it is soothing?

Rizwan Javaid  21:24
This is more of like, getting out of my head and into what I'm doing; it's a little bit more of a being at the moment instead of being lost in thought or distracted. And so it's a way for me to just remind myself.

Samanta Aquino  21:42
would you use it while working? So like you're trying to get in this zone? Or?

Rizwan Javaid  21:48
I would use it just to like it; yeah, it definitely works because I get distracted a lot. And you know, it's a good reminder to say, you know, I hear the bell, and I need to focus on what I'm doing instead of being distracted and

Samanta Aquino  22:05
I need to try this. I need to try this ASAP. Because I start something. And then, at the same time, I start another three things. And then I was not really finished. Neither any of them. Yeah, it sounds needed. Because I actually don't listen to music while I'm working. Like I'm not listening to anything. Okay. Mainly because I feel I'm jumping from one meeting to the other. I don't feel I have enough downtime to just sewn. Yeah. Sewn out into, I don't know, to a beat. Yeah, this may actually work. Yeah, let me see. Let me play it so you will be silent for a while, and you're like back to work away? Yeah. A few minutes after, he would do it again.

Rizwan Javaid  23:10
Yeah, I mean, you can set however long you want to, but I do it like maybe like every half hour, just so that it just in case I am distracted. I know. I need to get back. I love. This is so cool. Like you cannot see my face. But I'm like what I mean is the Plum Village app. It's a Zen meditation and mindfulness app. And they have mindfulness bells, a bell of mindfulness. And that way, you can time it and tell it exactly when to play. So I think this Yeah, this along with the app that you mentioned of the affirmations. I think that's a good start for the day. Yeah. Right on, you mentioned that you're embracing Sweden's balanced living off doing less Can you talk about that?

Samanta Aquino  24:07
I just think this country opened up to open me up to the idea of not having to work so much and tie my worth to all my output all my accomplishments. People are just so much chill here less way less worried about all these. I don't know work aspirations and not know that you're surrounded by like you continue to be surrounded by so many talented people. Yeah, but I don't feel this, or I feel invited to be less pressured to one-up myself, and now this you know this and all this. Yeah. And that's why I'm what I mean by doing less. I think I was introduced to that here in this country because of the culture. They have this book chord, well, actually this phrase lagom. Right, like, not too low, not too much, just right. And I was trying to, like the pursuit to find that balance in everything in life. Now makes sense to me. That makes sense to me.

Rizwan Javaid  25:24
Nice. Yeah, I guess the hustle culture isn't as prevalent there.

Samanta Aquino  25:29
Exactly, that's why we're running away from

Rizwan Javaid  25:33
that, that's, that's fairly enticing. You know, just, you know, doing what you love to do, you know, you still have ideals, you still have goals, but you're not defined by your work not defined by or, like you said, the output is that you are defined by, like, who you are, and what you do when you get your creative output or your passions or things along those lines.

Samanta Aquino  26:06
And I still struggle with wanting to do so much and wanting to feel productive, and overcommitting and over-demanding from myself. But I mean, an environment that doesn't reward that. So I feel in a better space to successfully leave that behind or be less like that because I'm not being pushed to think like that and behave that way.

Rizwan Javaid  26:37
Nice. Yeah, I guess, the change from the previous way of working, you know, to hustle to where you are right now, I guess it just takes time to get rid of

Samanta Aquino  26:49
all the program.

Rizwan Javaid  26:53
The programming, the constant programming, and expectations. So yeah, definitely. So you mentor designers, as well. And can you talk about some of that work that you're doing? Yes,

Samanta Aquino  27:16
I, I do mentor in Super peer, and at ADP list as well. Because I want to make sure that I am serving the type of designer that I was earlier in my career. And I wasn't even aware of mentoring. And I don't think I could have afforded some of the prices that I see some men mentors offer their sessions at still want to have both channels, like paid mentoring, and free mentoring just had different capacities. Yeah. And it all started because I wanted to practice or when I become a manager, sure, I guess, just anticipating another stage in my life. And the opportunity wasn't coming up at work for me to practice this skill because I'm surrounded by other senior designers. So I decided to create the opportunity for myself and mentor other designers all around the world, not just the people in my company.

Rizwan Javaid  28:28
Nice. Yeah, I think that's another moment where you took action on you know, you saw you, the situation you realized, and you have realized what it is. And then to achieve your goal to get to the next level. This is a great way to practice those skills and to keep doing, keep doing, keep working towards those, even if that opportunity isn't there in your job. And that's another lesson that I think is great is a lot of times we think that whatever the job opportunity provides you that is what your reality is, that's we what you need to be working within. But like we realize now that your job does not define you. You can spread out you can learn on your own and take ownership of your own career instead, depending on what your current job is.

Samanta Aquino  29:27
Yeah, and not everything is fixed with changing jobs. You can still be happy where you are and address your needs outside of your workplace. So I had that knee I couldn't get my job. So I went and fulfilled it somewhere else. Yeah, some other way. And I think I did the same when the workflow or the work that I was doing was filling, too. When not, I just felt like a factory for a moment, and it was missing the creativity. And what I did then started that Instagram with content. And here, I had more creative freedom. And I could create pretty posts and carousels, stuff like that. And that has evolved and connected with mentoring as well. But it all came from on met needs at work that I didn't have to necessarily fix just by letting me find another job, which we often do in this industry, for many reasons. But I try not to give that advice. So unconsciously, to people, like just find another job, or like, let's really find what is it that you're not happy with? And what are the different ways we could actually solve that it's not only finding a new workplace?

Rizwan Javaid  30:58
Yeah, that's a good point. Because that's the first thing that comes to mind is, oh, I need to change jobs, because I'm not my mates, I'm being met. And, you know, and I guess, even if you go on LinkedIn or Twitter, you hear people switching jobs. And so he becomes even more enticed into switching jobs, and all our problems will be solved. But that's not the case. Because if you have problems in your job, and if you change jobs, you still have those challenges within you that you still need to resolve, you need to overcome. And so I think that's great advice is to look within and see how you can solve those challenges without leaving because that's how you will grow instead of switching jobs, you will grow as a designer, as a person, if you understand where those challenges are and how you overcome them.

Samanta Aquino  32:00
Oh, yeah. Also, finding new jobs is draining by is one of the most exhausting things you can do just going through a hiring process. Going through all of that and preparing portfolios, we all designers, we know it, we hate it. So yeah, don't give yourself this super hard task where you don't even know if that's gonna fix the real underlying issue.

Rizwan Javaid  32:28
Yeah, and the, you know, you started creating Instagram videos, and so that, that's opened up a whole new world for you, of opportunity of building your brand and building your skills, even, you know, so, I mean, all AI skills, whether they're at work, or in my personal life, they all kind of mesh together. So when you learn one in one area, you can apply it in that area instead of having these strict boundaries. So you, by you creating those Instagram videos, you're also helping yourself reach your goal of becoming a manager because you're, you know, you're building your communication skills, and you're trying new things, you're gaining confidence. Is that what your experience was?

Samanta Aquino  33:16
Definitely. Yeah. And highly recommend?

Rizwan Javaid  33:20
Yeah, I think it's very inspirational. And definitely, I love the one video you had about dribble, where when you go to dribble, the imposter syndrome that happens as soon as you get to that site. And you sometimes you have to because you're doing some research, and you're trying to see what others are doing. But I get that way with LinkedIn as well. Each time, each time I go there, and it's like, oh my God, I need to get get in and get out instead of sticking around for too long.

Samanta Aquino  34:01
Yeah, it's just a dribble that really messes with a sensitive spot in many UX designers or product designers. Not a little bit of generalists, and Dribbble is very UI, polished, call it, and you go in there, and your UI skills go like did we have to come in here? Why? No. Why are you putting exactly start comparing yourselves like Why might why does it might work look like this? Yeah. Okay, it can be tough. So, you know, navigate everyone safely and turn with caution.

Rizwan Javaid  34:43
Yeah, I think setting a timer on your phone to say okay, this is how long I'm going to spend on there and get me out. Because it seems to fall down that trap. You've Talked About, about anxiety and mental health challenges; I know you've done some clubhouse chats and conversations. Can you share some insights from those tests?

Samanta Aquino  35:16
I would say I see the same patterns when we talk about this subject drawn-out mental health, all of that, and some of the same solutions. And it's always setting strong boundaries. Right? Yeah. And it understands that there are no real UX or design emergencies that weren't used to having to work over the weekend, staying super late all the time—and just being the knight in shining armor of someone in the company. And if it's if this burnout is because you're overworked, give yourself permission to miss that deadline, not meet that scope, and actually have a conversation with the people in the team about the What's it called, like, it's a pyramid in, in management, the so three is a pyramid in management that talks about how scope, budget, and deadline, they're, they all impact together, you cannot have them all, without some trade-offs. Because they impact each other, and they directly impact quality. So if people want you to meet a very aggressive deadline, then negotiate the fact that you know, the scope needs to decrease your quality needs will be different, and all of that. So just don't let yourself be driven to madness with these crazy demands like really stand up for yourself and know your limits. And don't accept other people's unrealistic expectations.

Rizwan Javaid  37:06
Yeah, I think there's the there's that idea of, you know, don't expect me to work twice as much because of the, your lack of planning. And, you know, that's like, so the scope and all that needs to be carefully planned, instead of trying to please the client to try and to please, you know, kind of meet unrealistic deadlines, like you said, and I think that's a great way to think about its scope, deadline, and budget. And those are easy to remember. And you can kind of tell where the ball was dropped, you know, where the challenges as you're being asked to work extra hours or put in, you know, weekend work and, and, you know, just having that conversation, I think is important. And that's a challenge for designers too, is to stand up for yourself and to, you know, to say something, because you think, Oh if I say something, I'll be out of a job tomorrow. And so you kind of keep going down that road? Have you experienced that or heard about similar stories?

Samanta Aquino  38:19
Definitely, this is a recurring theme in mentoring, right? All these different things that lead to burnout, also a lot of procrastination, and avoidance and like, feeling, a lack of passion, let's call it and in that, in that other problem, what I have arrived, that is that you have to take a step, any step when you feel this paralyzed, and this stuck. And as we were saying earlier, like answers are not gonna reveal themselves, just by thinking, you have to do something to actually figure out what would be the next step. That is the definition of figuring things out, just trying things. And just giving yourself permission to do a shitty first step. Yeah. Right. Start very low fidelity.

Rizwan Javaid  39:18
Yeah, I mean, we want every step to be perfect. But, you know, we need to be comfortable with just trying something out. It doesn't work. You try something different. You understand why it didn't work, and then you assess that, and you try again, instead of expecting the perfect outcome every time we take a step. And you know that I think that adds to procrastination as well because the bar of expectation is really high. So you don't want to try something until it reaches that expectation. And so nice is you Yeah, Definitely.

Samanta Aquino  40:03
And also take time off before you actually need time off. I don't know what happens in the US, but we like to hoard vacations for some big moments. And it's that or we're told this myth of unlimited vacation, but then you don't really want to take a vacation because you don't want to look like you're not giving your 100%. Because if you don't give your 100%, then you're not worthy of that promotion of that race or anything. Exhausting, like we're, we're put in a tough place in the in that work when the workplace is like that. Or you were given all these expectations in these unspoken rules, but take the time off, it's there, it's yours. Take it before you actually need it. You don't even have to have a plan. You don't have to have a vacation to take time off. It can be just like I need a weekend. So I can binge guilt-free that do that before you actually need it.

Rizwan Javaid  41:06
That's yeah, I think you're speaking right to me, because the first one was, like, I like to call it vacation time. And knowing I mean, with the family, like, oh, we'll go on vacation someday I need that time off. And then but I never take just a day off just to rest or do something other than work. And I actually took a day off last week, just to rest and but the guilt that comes with you know, just doing that. It was pretty big. And

Samanta Aquino  41:43
that's all us that guilt. Yeah, yeah. Nobody died while you were away. I took everyone was fine. It was you yourself. And maybe that we measure our way too much on our output, as we said earlier. That's what's preventing you from giving yourself permission to just live you don't have to work all the time.

Rizwan Javaid  42:08
Yeah, I think. Yeah, I think it's gonna it's going to take some practice for me to get over the guilt. And, and no, I mean, I still I did it. I mean, I didn't just take a day off out of the blue. I knew I didn't have any deadlines. I didn't have any. Anybody, depending on me for that day. So it was a little bit more planned. But it's still got those feelings of expectations. Oh, I need to be working today. Because it's a Monday. And I, you know, so it's, it'll be a process to get over that. You know, years of thinking like that.

Samanta Aquino  42:50
That's my favorite, favorite moments to take time off a day where I know everyone else is working. So I feel like living the life that all the peasants working. And I'm out here Yes. Shopping. Not really shopping is window shopping. No real purpose. So yeah, treat yourself that way with just your free time.

Rizwan Javaid  43:16
Nice. Yeah, maybe I need to move to Sweden.

Samanta Aquino  43:20
You were here before?

Rizwan Javaid  43:23
Yeah. It's my goal one day to move back there and work there. And live there. We'll have you. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks. Yeah, I'm practicing my Swedish to use on the side. So one day, I will be ready.

Samanta Aquino  43:42
Oh, that's a very good view. I am not a good resident in that regard. I'm still the beginning of my Swedish classes and actually started this year. So I have a lot ahead of me.

Rizwan Javaid  43:55
So I'm recently realizing, you know, just to be grateful for what I have what is around me and just actually stating that or writing it down? Can you share something that you're grateful for?

Samanta Aquino  44:13
So easy to say but the people in my life I'm grateful for? For my partner? I'm alive abroad I don't have my family with me. They're free to for our way. And it's just him and I and yeah, I think I stopping to realize that. All you share with this other person will they add to your life? Good thing to do.

Rizwan Javaid  44:46
Nice. And I'd say it's, it's a good way to again, get out of our heads and see what you know, who the people are and how they're helping us and how How they're adding to our lives and how we're all interconnected. So that's, that's pretty cool. So now we're at the point where we do a listener challenge, where the guests can share a challenge with the listeners to, again, take action, instead of just listening and, you know, moving on with the day, maybe setting out a challenge for them to change lives. And, you know, at least get started. Maybe not that just takes a high. Okay, maybe not that drastic, but something towards that direction. Do you have a challenge for the listeners?

Samanta Aquino  45:48
Yes, if you haven't done it already, sit down and actually write down your goals for the year. I make. I know there's a comp people that say I have it in my head, I know what I want for the year. But there are too many studies that show that actually writing things down. And then actually coming up with an action plan, then sharing that with someone a friend, even if it's just one time-sharing, and visualizing these things, they will increase the likelihood of you achieving them by a lot, talking about up to 60 something percent. So it's such a small task, think of it as a self-care task of the weekend, just grab a notebook and jot down like, do a brain dump of everything that you have in your brain, that would be nice. You can think of categories, different categories, different pockets of your life, you can achieve things in like school, work, career, family well being. Or maybe you can think of it in terms of time, all in six months, in one year, in five years, in 20 years, whatever inspires the most answers for you. But just Yeah, give yourself that time and write down what you want for yourself.

Rizwan Javaid  47:14
Nice, I really like this exercise. And it's another way to get out of our heads. And, you know, write down what you want to do what you want to achieve. Because this will prevent you from being distracted and moving, you know, going on tangents in your career or, you know, going again, trying to achieve that shiny new thing that comes up in social media. And, you know, they may not, it may be good, but is maybe it's not the direction you want to go in. And so instead of wasting time and energy, chasing other people's dreams, you're chasing your own, you know, you're taking steps towards your own dream. And the more you can spend time in this area with this exercise, the better it is for you. Because then you're you can be sure that you're taking the right steps instead of just going where the wind takes you.

Samanta Aquino  48:15
Yeah, definitely. I like to take extra time on this, at the beginning of the year, or even before the beginning of the new year. This time around, I didn't do it like in December, I still haven't done it. In fact, I have a goal setting session today later today, we're going to do it live you in my do tube, nice. And I take some time extra other than just writing down everything that I want to do, but actually questioning, challenging why I want each of these things. And again, going back to finding the real need the real problem that um, this thing I said that I want to do is trying to accomplish for me, because maybe this thing that I said that I want to do is just my attempt at fixing something or achieving something else. And gaining awareness of what that larger goal is, can really liberate you from the guilt you feel when you don't achieve X or Y to do your New Year's resolution list. Yeah, so it's better to have that introspection. Like why do I really want these things and we accept that there are many ways to actually get there.

Rizwan Javaid  49:31
Yeah, and I think this also helps, will help. I mean, it definitely helps with self awareness as a designer, to know what your skills are, where you want to go, what your weaknesses are, and you can then come up with a plan to tackle those. And also, like we said, you may realize that switching jobs is not the right step for you. It's you need maybe you need to work on those weak areas or Even the strength areas and go deeper in those and grow as a designer where you are with opportunity you have instead of jumping, jumping ship and continuing doing that instead of tackling what you really need to tackle is your skills

Samanta Aquino  50:19
are you need to get better at, let's say UI design. But think about it. That's not even the future you envision for yourself. So why are you beating yourself up about conquering this skill that doesn't really get you to your ideal future?

Rizwan Javaid  50:35
Nice. And I think this could also help with those feelings when you go to dribble and you see, you know, the perfect UIs that, hey, that's not that's not for me. That's great. Other people are doing it, but this is not the direction I want to go into you don't have those again, feelings of imposter syndrome or, or comparisons and all those doubt, that's that come up. So how can this? how can listeners learn more about you, and get in touch with you

Samanta Aquino  51:10
all for mentoring, and you can go to Super pir.com/samanta People like to come to me for all sorts of things like portfolio reviews, burnout, what to do, I'm feeling frustrated and feeling unheard, what can I do? How to present ideas and your work effectively? How to ask for a raise? Should I go freelance versus full-time at a company, if at a company, what kind of company? How do I deal with this particular type of imposter syndrome and so on. So if you have any of these struggles in your career, please reach out to me. First, try to find if I'm the right mentor for you, and try to find someone that has similarities to who you are today. So I get a lot, for example, a lot of mentees who are also POCs females, product designers or generalists. And also find someone that has similarities to who you want to be the future. So maybe someone that works in the type of company that you want to work out or the product or the country that you want for yourself. Yeah, so do your research, try to identify who would be the right mentor for you. And if I am, you can watch a little bit of a b bio about me on Super pure.com/samantha. And please reach out. I also have a very limited set of free mentoring sessions in the ADP list. You can find me by my full name Samantha Aquino. And you can also follow my UX content. In Instagram. I do this account for fun sometimes I share like actual more tangible hard knowledge. But a lot of the continents are just for fun like the dribble reel that Rizwan was mentioning and other stuff that are relatable. Maybe it makes you feel less alone and gets a lot out of you. And lastly, I am trying to get into YouTube, so you can find me on YouTube. Samantha UX.

Rizwan Javaid  53:21
Nice. Yeah, definitely. I know I need a session as well as for my career. I may be knocking on your door.

Samanta Aquino  53:33
Well, we need a support group, a content creators kick it off.

Rizwan Javaid  53:39
Definitely. I think that's a great idea. And yet, I want to thank you for coming to the show. I've learned a lot and I've grown, you know, just in this conversation. I've grown as a person and then this designer from your experience and I really appreciate you sharing your you know, your hard, hard-fought insights and learnings that you've shared with the listeners as time really appreciate appreciative of you sharing your experience with us and you know, opening up to us. Thank you so much.

Samanta Aquino  54:19
Thank you for creating opportunities for designers like myself and for even seeing the opportunity. Why do I want to say foresee the potential of the potential value on having a conversation with me I really appreciate it. That's how we help each other fight imposter syndrome. So please keep doing what you're doing and I hope your listeners enjoyed today.

Rizwan Javaid  54:43
Thank you so much. I feel so happy to thank you feel seen

All right, thank you, Samantha, for a great conversation and I hope your listeners are jumping on the chance to take action on the challenge that Samantha shared with us. You know, having a plan and thinking about where you want to go are crucial in helping us achieve those goals. So you know, whether you break it up into different days, or if you just take one day and carve out your plan, whatever works for you, it's going to be time well invested, because that way you have a roadmap of where you're going. So take a moment, take an hour, take a day, take however much you want, but have a plan in hand so that you can achieve those goals. Thank you for listening to the show this week. If you're enjoying the low fidelity podcast, I want to invite you to subscribe to the companion low fidelity newsletter. And you can find that at low fidelity.substack.com. In the newsletter, I share insights on topics such as mindset, creativity, and the craft of design, and I think you'll like it. If you're enjoying the low fidelity podcast, please rate and review it on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen as it helps other listeners find the show.

That's it for now.

Till next time, stay strong.

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