Design thinking has proven to make business more innovative. This means asking the right questions, testing solutions, then refining those findings. The design process can be applied to living to create a more fulfilling life. Like design, you are never 100% sure of the outcome when you begin. Solutions start out as a hunch and are found through continuous modification and refinement.
People get into a dangerous mindset of limiting themselves to a title or degree. In reality, about 75% of people work outside of what they studied in college. People change careers about four times in their professional lives. When I sit down to make something new, it turns out different than I expected. While I have an idea of how I want the end product to be, most of the time it’s better than I expected. It’s okay to not have all the answers when you begin.
Looking for the right solution involves modifying what works and what does not. Our lives are one big creative puzzle to solve. Here are a few ways to apply design principles to figure out how to move forward in your life.
Define + Collect
The design process begins with asking the right questions. How do we measure success? What are some goals to reach success? What objectives are we looking to achieve? What is the tone or image you want to convey? These are questions designers ask clients in a project brief. A project brief defines objectives before the design starts. A “life brief” figures out what you want in life.
“In reality, about 75% of people work outside of what they studied in college.”
This requires deep honesty and acceptance within yourself to admit areas of improvement. Defining problems and setting parameters for success are the foundations of the design process.
Designs start with collecting extensive research. We collect information on how our designs interact with the real world. We study what makes designs successful and collect inspiration. Collect research on the life you want to live. Look for success stories in your field. Find people doing what you want to do. Reach out to people about their journey and shadow them when possible. Read about them.
Create a life mood board by collecting visuals from the life you want to live. This may sound hokey but being able to visualize your life in a tangible way gives you the means to set goals. Mood boards guide designers when things get off track.
Brainstorm + Develop
Organize the information you gathered about aspects of your ideal life. The design process requires forming hypothesis then testing and finding out what is right. It is an iterative process that requires being wrong so you can learn to be right.
“Narrow down your best solutions and develop tangible steps to achieve your goals.”
Brainstorm ways to build your life. I like to create a list or mind map to dissect information. This is a space where solutions can flow, no matter how disconnected they may seem. While designing, we get or first ideas out as soon as possible to move on to less obvious solutions. This is where the gold is.
Narrow down your best solutions and develop tangible steps to achieve your goals. Start with a few small accomplishments. Try ideas on without too much commitment. Think small then big.
Designers create low fidelity prototypes early in the process. This allows low commitment to solutions and keeps solutions flexible.
Feedback + Improve
Get yourself in front of people to see what works and what does not. Do this early and often. Designers do this by talking about their work with their team and sharing work before it is 100% done. That way we get feedback early on in the process. I’d much rather fix a glaring mistake early on in the process versus after I have worked countless hours on it.
You also get feedback from yourself by trying new things and doing what feels right for you. Also, get a small support group for your accomplishments. People who want to see you succeed and give honest feedback. People you can bounce ideas off of. Design is based on building connections with others.
“Like life, design requires continuous improvement.”
Like life, design requires continuous improvement. Develop and improve solutions based on what works. Get rid of things that do not work. You may need to take some solutions back through the design process to develop them.
I am still designing my life. I always will be. Celebrate the process of getting where you need to be. The key is to know there is always room for improvement and always time to improve.