If you are a successful veteran creative, you have much to be thankful for. It's great to think about past design experiences. The projects and campaigns assigned to you. Clients and vendors who became friends. Mentors and co-workers who affirmed your talents—sometimes engaging in friendly creative competition. You may have received a number of awards from your peers. Or maybe the project that gives you the most joy is the one you did pro bono. No one notices it but you and the cause or organization you helped.
It is great to look back but you can't remain in neutral. You must move forward.
Moving forward might mean going back to school to learn a new design skill, or learning on your own (as many of my current and former co-workers have done). It may mean you take on a project that's outside your comfort zone. A Flash based website designed by a friend spurred me to begin this blog. A Dreamweaver project for my employer introduced me to the world of HTML years before knowing HTML and now HTML5 became essential for designers and web developers. The possibilities presented for e-books and other media driven projects make it a scary AND an exciting time to be a graphic designer.
It may also mean that even in a tough economy sometimes you have to spend (or invest) a little to ensure you have what it takes for the long haul. For example, Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription model might be right for you. Purchasing an iPad or Android tablet may help you better understand how adults and children use and learn with these devices. You might choose to learn Quark XPress or Apple's Pages programs.
If you're a new designer, I hope the experiences of the past that you've studied and the understanding of the technology and new methodologies in graphic design that you have embraced prepared you well. You will still have much to learn, and the veterans like me will learn a lot from you.
Northern Illinois University's fight song has a verse that begins with the words "Forward, Together Forward." I like the thought of the line. We may have been given great abilities, but we need the help, teaching and encouragement of other like minded people to come along side us (in addition to our families and friends).
Let's all go forward, together.