When did you realize you’re not improving at all? For me it’s when you can’t see and feel any change in your works, neither for better nor worse. That’s what I called stagnancy. You’re repeating the same formula for your works over and over again. And sometimes it get uglier when you feel that you don’t have to change anything. That’s ignorant. You’re not the one who get bored, your costumers do.
When you tried something new, especially in art and design, It’s common if you failed at your early attempts. Your works didn’t come up as you planned it to be, and of course people reviewed your works as UGLY. But I think it’s better that way, than not having any changes at all. Especially in the formula repeating part.
In my opinion, people who are drowned in their comfort zone are like this… they tend to make a similar products or works like they usually did. They don’t feel offended when clients wanted you to make same thing over and over again. And they started to think that criticism equals jealousy. They think that there is nothing wrong with their works, and they accept only praises.
If you’re a creative worker, don’t you think it’s boring to always create similar things? Don’t you think critics are good? They made your works discussed. It’s a sign that people are not only enjoying them, but also observing them. It’s a sign that the audiences want you to improve. Well of course if the critics is baseless than it’s not even worth to respond to. But still a little warning is always good to keep your mind open.
If you start to feel comfortable with the way you are and it happened almost for a long period of time, well maybe it is the time for you to start looking the other way. Start to open new doors and try to observe something that you usually ignore. Freeing yourself from the comfort zone does need a lot of effort. It may work, it may fail. But at least you had taste something different from your routines. A little detour could have a big influence on you later.
Progresses can not always be seen immediately. It may took a long time to form as the way you like it. But at least you’re trying to change, and not trying to be stagnant.