How Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Can Lead To Growth - From A Minted Design Challenge


Cara McGrady One Swell Studio
Cara McGrady One Swell Studio
 

Find Out How A Minted Design Challenge helped Cara McGrady Step Out of Her Comfort Zone And Gain Confidence

Cara McGrady is the founder of One Swell Studio, where she designs printable invitations and party decor for bridal showers, baby showers, and children's birthday parties. Cara first attended our Creative Founders Conference in New Orleans in 2015. Since then, she's come back twice as a speaker. Today, Cara writes about how she took the leap and stepped out of her comfort zone to participate in a Minted design challenge. She's since won three of those challenges and learned some things along the way.

Comfort zones. They're pretty nice, aren't they? Warm, safe, cozy, and... well, comfortable (as the name suggests). While you're in your own little zone, you pretty much know what to expect at all times and how you'll react at all times. There isn't much stress or anxiety to worry about. The thing about comfort zones is that they're wonderful-- as long as you aren't looking to change, grow, or be challenged much.

Taking the step (which can often feel more like a gigantic leap) outside of that cozy little bubble of your comfort zone can be nerve-wracking. You're not sure what's going to happen. Will the outcome be fantastic? Devastating? Just plain "Meh"? That's what makes us uncomfortable-- leaving the things we know and venturing out into the uncertain.

If you're an entrepreneur, you've probably already stepped out of your comfort zone a time or two. Heck, maybe you feel as though you live outside of it. And you know what? When you choose to step outside that bubble, change happens. Growth happens. One of my most favorite quotes comes from psychologist, Abraham Maslow.

He said, "At any given moment, we have two options: step forward into growth, or step back into safety."

"At any given moment, we have two options: step forward into growth, or step back into safety." - Abraham Maslow

This past summer, I did something I never thought I'd do. It wasn't earth-shattering, death-defying, or dangerous. But, to me? It was terrifying. I abandoned my comfort zone and submitted my work to a Minted design challenge.

Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Valentine's Day Minted Design Challenge Submissions
Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Valentine's Day Minted Design Challenge Submissions

I've always loved seeing the work that springs from Minted's community of artists and designers. For years, I swooned over the artwork submitted to the challenges held to determine which cards, stationery, fabric, and artwork would be sold on their website for holidays, baby showers, weddings, and the like.

On occasion, I'd even go as far to download the "designer challenge kit" Minted provides for anyone who'd like to submit. It's filled with templates, sample photos and textures for designers to use as they create their Minted submissions. But not once did I ever create anything, let alone submit it to the challenge. I stayed in my safe, comfy bubble instead.

Minted felt so incredibly out of my league. These Minted design challenge artists were talented. They had serious skills. When I tried to sit down to design something to submit, I felt like a complete fraud and ended up quitting before I ever really got started.

You see, my background isn't in design-- I was an Elementary Education major and a former third grade teacher before opening the virtual doors to my Etsy shop back in 2010. I didn't have intensive training on the ins and outs of design programs. I taught myself through online courses, YouTube tutorials, and lots of trial and error.

This past summer, six years (SIX!) into owning and operating my own stationery business, I couldn't take it any more. I needed to be part of that club. I needed to become a Minted artist.

Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Minted Eat Drink & Be Merry Design Editor's Choice Winner Minted Design Challenge
Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Minted Eat Drink & Be Merry Design Editor's Choice Winner Minted Design Challenge

Luckily for me, a challenge opened that very week. I designed three holiday cards for their "Eat, Drink & Be Merry" holiday party invitation challenge. I was proud of the work I had done, but decided that if my work scored miserably, or if someone gave me mean feedback, I'd never have to participate in another one. (Such positivity, I know...)

It felt like forever between the time I clicked the submit button to enter that challenge and the day when the winners were finally announced. I'm pretty sure it was only a few weeks, but to me and my anxious little heart, those weeks lasted a long, long time.

I was in the car, on the way to a Friday night dinner with my husband and two boys when the email came through. I saw my name amongst the list of editor's picks. I think I might have squealed, but I know for certain that I was thrilled. Did all of my designs win? Nope. Just one for that first challenge. But the others didn't score miserably and no one said anything mean. (Everyone was really encouraging and kind, actually!)

I've submitted to several other minted design challenges and currently have three Minted wins under my belt. It still makes me giddy to see my work on a site that I've swooned over for so long.

Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Valentine's Cards for Minted Design Challenge
Cara McGrady, One Swell Studio, Valentine's Cards for Minted Design Challenge

While I'm still very new to the Minted realm, I'm absolutely loving the community and camaraderie that exists between all the designers. I used to see the gorgeous work submitted by other artists, and completely give up submitting to the challenge. These days, I feel sparked by their talent, and encouraged to attempt to design something that will fit right alongside their beautiful work.

Maybe there's something that you've been secretly (or not so secretly) yearning to do. And you haven't actually done it because it scares the buh-jiggles out of you. (I get it. Ohhh, I totally get it.) I'd like to tell you to do it anyway, though. Step outside the bubble, friend! Whether the outcome is fantastic, devastating, or just plain meh, you can still say that you did it-- and that's something worth celebrating.

Thank you Cara for sharing your story! We hope it encourages many to take the leap and do something they are a little scared of. If this encouraged you to submit a minted design challenge, here's the link! Keep up with Cara on Instagram