How Watching a Flag Football Game Inspired Me

By Terri Rodriguez-Hong

When do you consider yourself being “stuck” at something? Is it a problem that you have been staring at for a long time? In your mind, is this the very instant that things will either fall together or fall apart? I prefer to have things fall into something that will inspire me. So what does flag football have to with anything? Well, let me tell you something… I know you have heard this before, but inspiration can happen at any time, and for me it was when I was watching my son’s flag football game.

How does inspiration come to us? Does it come from being a in quiet place? Will being inspired help us achieve our design goals and get what we need to take the next step into our project? Sometimes we feel stuck or think that we are not good enough. Whatever the case, it’s easy to become stuck on something really big or something really small.

What I learned from watching a flag football game is that the kids seem to have a different view of goals than we adults do. If you have ever watched kids play a game, you know how determined they are. It shows on their faces — they’re just out there enjoying the game. They’re hopeful. They’re easily encouraged and rebound quickly from disappointment. Most importantly, they are learning how to play the game.

Just by seeing another person accomplish or succeed in something has the potential to unleash happy emotions, and happiness is contagious. It’s the so-called “little things” that will help us stay motivated and help us reach our own goals. Taking small steps to achieve our goals will continue to inspire us and to help others. Each time you find yourself lost or unsure of where you’re headed, try to remember that one moment in time that made you smile and inspired you.

But what if that trick doesn’t work? Don’t panic; just take a step back through your process of how you created a project in the past. As a flag football game progresses, the defense runs off from the field while offense are running back on. Their focus is on achieving the impossible, and we UX/UI designers face the same challenge each time we try to solve a problem. Inspiration is amazing when it turns from something intangible to something concrete.

We can never forget that our job is very important in order for users to have a great experience because we are designers who are supposed to make things easy for everyone. But what happens when the project goes wrong? (And I mean wrong dead wrong.)This happens to the best of us. What you can do is trace your steps and think of how the project ended badly, or you can take small “chunks” of the project and work your way up to the “bigger picture.”

When you have a design problem and cannot figure out what to do or how to solve it, there are many techniques to find the answer. Some say it will be easy and it will come like a ball of light with rainbows, but let’s be real. Sometimes that does not happen, and instead of rainbows, it’s a black storm cloud hanging over our heads. I have even heard a few times that if you step away from the problem, it will solve itself. How true is this statement? Once, as I was working on a problem for client, I was flat-out stuck on one element of the design. Then, a few days later, at my son’s flag football game, I saw the coach scribbling on his notebook and It hit me: I could sketch out my design as if I was the user creating the perfect experience I wanted to see. In stepping out of the role of designer and into the role of a user, I was able to answer my own questions. I was shocked at how easy it was to do this!

So the next time you’re stuck on something, just sit back with your eyes and ears open. Being open to stepping away from a problem and keeping an open mind really works. Anything at anytime can inspire you to focus, just as the little kids playing flag football take to the game with so much excitement. Don’t despair — just hone in on what you know and be creative to find the answer that will unravel naturally. Yes, things take time but just remember that inspirations happen at the strangest times. In order to be successful, you have to hit every milestone — good and bad — so just enjoy the ride, learn what you can, and take inspiration anywhere.