Life as design


When everything around is changing, we are changing too. Often, we change as a consequence, against our own interests and values, and the results can be quite dramatic (in 2016, suicide accounted for 1.4% of deaths worldwide).

However, every human being has a unique ability to change and live not one but many interesting lives and stay true to the Self.


It’s not surprising to anyone anymore that we live in a complex, unpredictable and chaotic world. Actions in one part of it lead to immediate reactions everywhere else - reactions that are impossible to predict or prevent. Our traditional linear methods of forecasting, planning and control don’t work anymore. New conditions call us to developing new approaches and new skills.


In the industrial era, only innovators and people of creative professions were assigned the qualities, which let them navigate the uncertain and the unknown. Designers had a specific system of thought and a specific set of competencies that allowed them to organize chaos and see into the future. Today, such skills are a must have for everyone who doesn’t want to simply survive but live a fulfilling, expressive and happy life.


In the last 20 years the principles of design thinking slowly migrated from the innovation labs and design studios to the mass industries, fast-forwarded product and service innovation, the innovation of business models and organizational design. Now, we have also realised that we can use the same way of thinking, creative and strategic tools and techniques to design our own lives the way we want them.


Intuition, empathy and focused attention, imagination, systems thinking, learning by doing and continuous improvement, collaboration and the ability to refuel our inner energy in the environment of continuous action - these qualities of thinking and working like designers are intrinsic to all of us, yet we don’t use them in the right way.


I often think of an excellent metaphor suggested once by my former coach – Marian Goodman of MIT Presencing Institute. “We have different kinds of muscles, - she said, and we must learn how to use and develop them. If my triceps start weakening, I go to gym and do something about it; but when the imagination starts to fail, we often don’t even notice it. That’s a problem.”


For all of us, who don’t want to be subjected to change but let change happen as and how we want it; for those, who want to live not one but many fulfilling and creative lives, it’s time to go to the “life design” gym.


As a start, try one of the exercises in The Compass. If you lack clarity and focus, check out In Focus. If you're struggling to make sense of something, try to Frame it and if you don't believe that something is possible, Reframe it and find an opportunity in your challenge. If you ran out of options, call friends and have fun with Ideas.


Let me know how it goes for you.

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