I’ve done several side projects and while my visual design improved marginally with each; my visual design improved leaps and bounds when I simply focused on it. There’s a reason why teachers teach first addition, and then multiplication, before moving to algebra which includes both.
It is true that side projects will help you with learning about screen states, flows, etc, but they can be limited in the types of UIs you design. I’m with you on the value of side projects — I personally try to keep at least one side project going. However, my side projects to date have not yet included: calendar, calculator, boarding pass, product comparisons, payment info— just to name a few, but thanks to DailyUI, I’ve at least part of one day thinking about one. Perhaps over time you might do enough side projects that all UIs would be included but I think that would take quite awhile.
It seems unfair to tell people to stop the challenge fullstop when doing it does have some really great benefits that doing a side-project cannot give you in the same time frame. When I was a beginning designer that really needed to stretch my visual skills, it was what I needed. If you don’t need that or don’t want to stretch a skill quickly, then fine, but that doesn’t make sense to tell others they shouldn’t do it.
It seems your main concern is people believing that doing DailyUI is enough to qualify you as a designer. What have you found that supports that many people believe that?