Rafal Tomal

Charting Your Own Course

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

A couple of years ago, I hit the reset button on my design business and my life. Back then, I felt stuck. Like many, I believed success meant building a perfect business — hiring a team, scaling up, and making detailed plans for the future.

I was caught up in doing what I thought I was supposed to do. Every step was about reaching some industry standard, not about what I really wanted. The joy of designing, my true passion, was getting lost in the noise of ‘business growth’.

That’s when I decided to change course. I shifted my focus back to what I loved the most — designing. I started building my business around my passion, not what looked best on paper. Sure, my approach isn’t the most optimized or fanciest out there, but it’s mine and brings me joy.

Since then, I’ve been focusing on enjoying my work, learning new things, and growing in the design space. It’s not about the rat race anymore; it’s about loving what I do daily.

I consciously chose not to grow my business ( beyond what I needed. It’s okay to stay small. This decision has brought me more peace and satisfaction than any big-scale operation could. It’s a reminder that sometimes, success is about being content with where you are and enjoying the journey.

As we enter a new year, we naturally feel the urge to catch up, compare, and compete. I want to encourage you to pause for a moment and consider what you can change this year. Take better care of yourself and begin by charting your own course.

Here are a couple of tips on how to reset yourself in 2024:

Reflect on the past, but don’t dwell on it.

Start by reflecting on the past year - what worked, what didn’t, and what lessons you learned. Use these insights as stepping stones, not as anchors. Remember, reflection is a tool for learning, not a dwelling place for regret.

Set your own pace.

It’s easy to get lost in the noise of what everyone else is doing. This year, make a conscious effort to set your own pace. Your journey as a designer is unique. Embrace it. Set goals that align with your personal growth and professional aspirations.

Choose your goals wisely.

Be selective about the goals you set. Choose ones that genuinely excite you and align with your long-term vision. Once set, break these goals down into achievable steps. Remember, flexibility in approach is key. Be ready to adapt and evolve your strategies as you progress.

Inspiration, not imitation.

While it’s important to stay updated with the latest in design, it’s more important not to lose your unique voice in the process. Draw inspiration from others, but forge your own path. Your individuality is your greatest asset as a designer.

Trust yourself and embrace mistakes.

One of my biggest lessons in this journey is to trust myself more. Sure, making mistakes can be scary, but they’re also crucial to growth.

It’s better to take action, even if it leads to a few stumbles, than to get stuck in the loop of overthinking and never launching anything.

Every mistake has been a stepping stone, teaching something valuable.

I’m still learning, but the truth is that, just like in design and business, perfection is a myth. What’s more important is your ability to take action, learn, and adapt.

So, what path are you taking on in 2024?

Tip of the week

Embrace Keyboard Shortcuts in Figma

Mastering keyboard shortcuts in Figma is a game-changer for any designer looking to speed up their workflow. Why is speed crucial? Well, in design, time is indeed money.

The faster you work, the more iterations you can create and the more you can experiment with your designs, leading to innovative and refined outcomes.

Some of my favorite Figma-specific shortcuts that have significantly boosted my efficiency include:

  1. Paste to Replace (Shift+CMD+R): quickly swap elements while retaining the original's position and size.
  2. Paste Over Selection (Shift+CMD+V): quickly paste the element over the currently selected one.
  3. Copy as PNG (Shift+CMD+C): instantly grab a PNG version of your selection, perfect for quick shares or previews.
  4. Copy Properties (Option+CMD+C): copy style properties.
  5. Paste Properties (Option+CMD+V): apply copied properties.

What got me inspired

I came across this beautiful design while doing research for one of our design studio's clients ( I admire the clever use of white space, modern typography, and grid-based layout. It reminds me of the Swiss style design.

Take the Next Step

  1. Share: Enjoyed this newsletter? Pass it on to friends and peers in the design world.
  2. Design Faster and Better: Check out my Figma toolkit for designers. It's practical and easy to use.
  3. Get in Touch: Questions or feedback? Reply to this email—I'm here to help.

Thank you for your support!

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205

You're part of this community likely because you've subscribed to my newsletter, downloaded one of my free resources, or purchased a product from My aim is to bring you tips, insights, and resources that can help you grow as a designer or design business owner. If you ever feel the content isn't serving you, you're free to unsubscribe (or change your preferences) at any time.

Rafal Tomal

Simple Design Always Wins

Join 20k+ people who love good design. Get my best tips, resources, and strategies to elevate your design skills and grow your business.

Read more from Rafal Tomal

Balancing the Ups and Downs of Running a Service Business​ Running a business can often feel like you're strapped into the wildest rollercoaster with no idea what twist or turn is coming next. I've been there and it's both exhilarating and daunting. In my best month, I soared high with earnings hitting over $95k. The next month, it’s a plunge into a $15k loss. Yeah, it’s a wild ride. And here's the thing – it's completely normal. There are going to be amazing days and some not-so-great ones....

about 1 month ago • 2 min read
Free Figma style guide template

FREE Figma Web Style Guide and Starter Templates​ In today’s newsletter, I’m thrilled to share something special with you: my free web style guide for Figma. It's a simplified version of the design system we use over at Think of this file as your design springboard. You can use it as a starting point for your own creations. Adjust the colors, play around with typography, add more UI elements, or expand the color palette to suit your needs. It's designed to be flexible and...

about 1 month ago • 3 min read

How I Run My Design Studio​ It's been four years since I gave my freelancing a makeover, transforming it into what is now It's been quite a journey, growing from a solo venture to a design studio with two full-time designers and a bunch of talented contractors. When I embarked on this journey, I made a conscious decision to measure success differently. For me, it's not just about the numbers in the bank account. It's more about how this venture fits into my life. Does it make me...

about 2 months ago • 2 min read
Share this post