Being a Designer

I’ve had the incredible opportunity and experience to see great design work come to life. There’s nothing like seeing something evolve, grow, and come to life with simplicity. Something that serves just about every feeling possible you have. Every idea of perfection satisfied. Something that makes you just hold up, pause, and just be perplexed on how that was possibly made. What if you could design your own life to feel like that too?

You can. Designers create the beautiful that serves and solves everyday complexities. You can do the same thing in your own life. You need tools to start just like a true designer uses. Some training and some internal improvements to your ability to be more self-aware of your basic needs can help you achieve just that.

Do you think you’re the only one that’s unhappy with the way things are going right now? You’re not alone as most people felt this way at one time or another. I felt that way many, many years ago. We need ways to be able to redesign our lives to not feel like the rut is all we have to look forward to. Putting yourself into the same space a designer does with their work, with your life, is the first step in the process. Just like a well designed product, a well-designed life will allow us to have unlimited creativity, excitement, and joy in whatever we do.

Like a designer understands key elements of great design, you have to understand clearly there are four key elements to life and then indentify in those four where your problems lies. They are:

  • Health. Which includes: emotional, mental, and physical needs to be met.
  • Work. Which includes: paid and volunteer opportunities.
  • Play. Which includes: doing something just for the heck or fun of it.
  • Love. Which includes: our partners, children, friends and pets.

The goal is to find the balance in all four. Like a designer digs deep into each factor or area they are designing to solve we need to do the same. There is no exact science to it, so it takes a lot of self assessment work on your part to figure it out. Total precise balance in the four is really up to you. Up to what you need for that time and that space you currently find yourself in. Your next approach is to take the imbalance you’ve discovered and approach it like it’s new.

Having a beginner’s mind is a great perspective to have whenever you’re facing a life changing decision, such as which career to choose.

Bill Burnett

Asking yourself some simple basic questions to discover more is a great way to gain perspective. There was one time my health 5 years ago was not in a good place and there was my imbalance. I asked myself some simple questions like:

“What is the life of some of the fittest people on the planet like?”

“How much of it really involves being aware of what I eat? Of being aware of how active I need to be?”

From there I was able find a direction to begin. I was able to find a compass direction to guide me to the truth I wanted in my design. 5 years later I am active weekly with either a 30 minute gym visit or a run daily. I am 50 pounds lighter and more fit than I have ever been. I am happy with what I eat and designed better habits in how much I eat. Asking the right questions you will find much less regret in your choices as you move forward.

You need guiding principles along the way that give you points to steer towards next. Your view on what you do in work and life are two of the four you need to get in touch with as you will spend the most time digging in on those groups. Your work and play philosophies are important. Deciding what great work looks like and means to you gives you a truth in your work that you can take anywhere. The same holds true in your play with the philosophy of what that means to you. Looking at your life and finding meaning in personal values or holding true to perspectives that are strong anchors need to be figured out.

A simple reflection exercise can bring a lot of clarity to this work. It’s not as hard as you think and doesn’t take years to figure out. Some take years to figure out because they just didn’t realize how out of whack their balance in the four was until they stopped long enough to look inwards. Take a piece of paper and right down at least 250 words for work and 250 for play that accurately describe both.

You can do this over a course of a few days. Keep a pen and paper or recoding device handy though. Just like a designer things will come to you or something will trigger an idea, you’ll need to capture that moment as quickly as possible to ensure the essence of that feeling stays intact. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can now align to it. These 250 things that describe the perfect design in work and play will be your guide/filter for everything you do in those spaces. If it doesn’t fit or feels like the wrong direction to go, trust your intuition as it probably is. Being aware of that you will find is incredibly freeing.

Learning how to love what you do is as simple as understanding what engages you and what doesn’t. If it is not something you love, it clearly will not engage you. There’s a special indicator that will also feel different. A kind of flow. When you completely experience flow it’s like a feeling of complete immersion into the activity that you are in at the moment that even time seems to go by faster than you expected. Those moments really are an indication of how engaged you are. Taking note those times when and why that happens are great things to stay close when designing your life or career.

What if all else fails you? I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of parallel universes or alternate endings in movies? But, that’s exactly what you need to design for yourself. There is a infinite amount of paths one can take. Giving yourself more than one option is a great thing to create or have. Settling for just one path could be a tremendous let down, keep that mind open. Sometimes a lead through one journey opens you up to others.

You can be the CDO (Chief Design Officer) of your own life. Focus in on your current situation, balance the four essentials, understand what you can get lost in because you truly enjoy it, and have alternate realities ready to explore if plan A is meeting your expectations are all great starts to great design work.

You’re in control. Take the design over your own life and find your truth. Thanks for viewing!

✌ Shawn

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