Watching designers bring life to a blank canvas is intriguing. Colors, shapes, and textures roll around in their mind even when they are non-existent in the physical space. Designers are working toward a desired outcome with no clear path in sight — no step one, step two, step three. Their technique — try stuff. If designing a room, they move the furniture or the accessories several times until it fits their desired outcome. If designing an automobile, they create a prototype and test it, re-work it, adjust and test again until they’ve arrived at what they intended in the beginning. Design thinking can help us create a life that is fulfilling.
Designers ask good questions. When we’re curious, we explore. Exploration takes us into new territory, new ideas, new ways of looking at things. Look at the difference in these questions: Who do I want to be when I grow up? versus Who do I want to grow into? Notice which one really invites exploration.
Designers take action. While they are thinkers, they do not think, sit, re-think, analyze, re-consider — they start. They move things around. They re-arrange. They take something away or add something. Designing a life that is full of meaning requires action. The first step we take may not lead us down a lifelong path, but it gets us started and from there we can adjust. The key is to take action.
Designers re-frame often. They examine their biases and open themselves up to new perspectives. Typically, designers do not focus on the problem. They start with the people — people who will be using their automobile or living room. In designing our lives, our biggest reframe will be to understand there is no perfect plan. There is not just one scenario that will work. The automobile can be built safe, sound and attractive in a host of different shapes, sizes, and colors. The living room can be arranged functionally and eye-catching in a multitude of styles, layers, and furniture groupings. The same is true for us. There isn’t just one scenario for our lives. Our lives can go a plethora of directions and still bring the outcome of fulfillment.
Designers always know it will be a process. Mistakes will be made. Prototypes thrown away. Designs reworked. Letting go of our first ideas and any of our good-but-not-great solutions is an important part of the process. Designing our life is a journey. The process is part of the beauty.
Designers seldom ever go it alone. They assemble a team. The best designers know that great design requires radical collaboration. In designing our lives, we are much more likely to reach our outcome within community, alongside mentors and coaches.
Think like a designer: ask good questions, take action, re-frame often, accept the process, and collaborate with others. A well-designed life — a life in which who we are, what we believe and what we do all line up – can be ours, if we are willing to think like a designer.
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Planning By Design: Reaching Your Big Dream by Marilyn Suey
- Is Your Vision Compelling Enough to Inspire Action? by Julie Chance
- Failure Isn’t Fatal by Sandi Mitchell
- What Do You Breathe For? by Dr. Cortney Baker