3 Ways Design Thinking Can Change Your Life

DesigningYourLife.MM-0261What if you thought about your life as a product?

A product is designed to solve a problem, so a designer works within the constraints of this problem to build a product that becomes a solution. If you were to apply these same principles of innovation methodology to solve a problem in your life, you might come up with some pretty interesting answers and new perspectives.

That’s the idea that led Stanford University professors Dave Evans and Bill Burnett to introduce the wildly popular “Designing Your Life” course at Stanford back in 2007 that uses design thinking. And most recently, the team co-authored the New York Times best-selling book Designing Your Life. The book boldly reassures us that “There is no one idea for your life. There are many lives you could live happily and productively.”

In the upcoming Creative Live class Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, the Stanford duo will explain their design thinking strategies and how to apply it to uncover the many options that exist for your life path.
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Thinking like a designer could have a major impact on your life. Here’s how:

1) Achieve your goals

As might be expected, the authors are not believers in making New Year’s resolutions, which around 80 percent of people don’t keep. When you write down everything you think you should do for the rest of the year (which is like trying to predict the unknowable future), and then not follow through, you’re left with a feeling of failure. Instead, the design thinking approach to achieving your goals uses “wayfinding,” a process that allows you to build your way forward slowly by taking the next logical step in completing your goal.

2) Discover your many talents and interests

What the authors stress in their book is that we have the talent and capability to enjoy many different kinds of life paths, so choosing one over another isn’t a matter of making a right or wrong decision. There are many right answers.

One exercise that Evans and Burnett offer involves writing down three 5-year plans for your life. But this isn’t about deciding which one is the best fit for you right now. It’s about exploring alternatives—and sketching them out in as much detail as possible. It’s about finding out which activities energize you and which ones leave you drained. And most importantly, it’s about “prototyping,” or making small experiments (instead of a full commitment to one thing) in your life to figure out what interests you and what doesn’t. You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself.

3) Understand the real reasons behind your desire for change

Just because you think you should give up your day job to be a full time photographer doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do it right away.  That’s why the authors emphasize “reframing” to understand the reasons behind your desire for such a big change in your life. More often than not, there are other factors at play behind your current dissatisfaction—and it may not just be your 9 to 5 job.

Essentially, applying the design thinking approach to your life entails exploring options–options that you may have never considered before–but eventually sticking to just one solution to see how it goes. It may not always be the perfect solution, but with every try, you will be closer and closer to finding one that fulfills you.

Join us on February 23rd for Designing Your Life with Stanford professors Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. RSVP Now

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Suchi Rudra

Suchi Rudra is a nomadic writer of articles, stories and songs, taking inspiration from her travels. Follow her wanderings at Tread Lightly, Travel Naturally.