Have a Plan
I wouldn't be where I am today without a plan. I had a very good friend and mentor that laid out the reality of a professional design career for me while I was still in college. He explained to me that there are two types of people in the world: There are doers, and there are creators. Doers are people that you can lay a project in front of them and they will get it done. They will do the work adequately and they will do it in a timely manner, but don't expect them to create their own work to do. Creators are people that are constantly looking for the next thing. They dabble in many areas and create their own projects. They have a little bit of doer in them but for the most part they have a hard time executing a full project because by the time it is 75 percent done they have moved on to their next creation. Both doers and creators are important and vital to a design team.
For me I knew I wanted to be 75 percent creator and 25 percent doer. I love to think and create and try new ideas. I don't need to wait for someone to give me an idea, but I didn't want to be someone who never finished their creation — so I always strive to make my ideas a complete reality. So I tailored the rest of my college tenure with balancing these two roles, learning how to both do and create. Had it not been for my friend laying out this scenario to me, I never could have built my career to be what I have today.
It is important to have a plan that is not only achievable but is also flexible. Every time you have a plan someone is there to get in the way of it, be willing to interpret everything you encounter as a challenge to create or do and your plan will stay intact.