How to Start Improving Your Life Using a Designer’s Way of Thinking

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We all have a vision for how we’d like to live, but in reality, there are always urgent needs and other influences that can take us in different directions. It’s easy to end up losing sight of the things we’d like to enjoy in our lives.

Knowing the wants of a consumer and finding ways to meet them is the job of a designer. It requires careful planning and execution. Can you apply a designer’s approach to your lifestyle and introduce changes to lead the life you want?

The designer’s challenge

Design is a vast field; designers can specialize to work across a significant number of industries. The average person will be most familiar with the product and industrial design; anything you purchase was developed with the input of a designer.

There are also fashion designers whose work influences the clothes we wear, and graphic designers who breathe life into the marketing campaigns we see everywhere. A commercial design firm helps businesses and homeowners alike to create interior spaces that achieve the required functionality with a pleasing aesthetic.

No matter their specialization, designers are tasked with deliberately creating something in a way that best suits the needs of the end-user. They need to consider logistics, technology, materials, and methods; they have to align those with purpose and behavior. And they are ultimately concerned with improving upon things.

Finding joy in life

Thus, the role of the designer is intimately connected with the fundamental goal of every business: aligning with their target audience. And if you, like a business, have a specific vision for your future, then thinking like a designer can help you bring that vision to life. You have to start designing a lifestyle that aligns your goals with the practicalities of your present reality.

Life, after all, is one big experience. Too often, we get caught up in one small aspect of it: making a living. Our preoccupation with work can go way beyond the standard 9-to-5. Long after we clock out, our minds are still thinking about how to make ends meet, earn more, advance ourselves.

Fall into this trap of focusing on a single thing, and you end up ignoring all the other aspects of living. You might enjoy the rewards of career progress, but you’re missing out on the vast breadth of different forms of enjoyment life has to offer. What about traveling, having quality relationships, or working on your fitness to stay healthy for decades to come?

A process of improvement

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You do enjoy at least one advantage over the professional designer. In this endeavor, you are also the end-user. Nobody knows your wants and needs, your habits and motivations, better than yourself.

Or at least that’s how it should be. In practice, many people aren’t honest with themselves about what they truly want in life. We get conditioned all the time, by a variety of sources, to think that certain things are valuable. Maybe you’re afraid you won’t live up to the standards set by your parents or peers. Or you might be aspiring to the lifestyle images you see floating around on social media.

The first step to designing a better lifestyle for yourself would be honesty and self-awareness. Keep a journal, or talk to someone you trust; get to the heart of what makes you happy. Recognize your current patterns and influences.

Next, you have to think of paths to improvement. If you realize that a large part of happiness comes from being able to spend more time with your kids, for instance, how do you achieve that goal? Is your job getting in the way? While you probably don’t want to forfeit your livelihood, this can prompt more extensive change.

Dial back on some areas of spending, or find more affordable housing arrangements, and you could take on a less demanding job or request a reduced workload. Or you could go out on a limb and become self-employed, thus having greater control over your time. This ties into the third step, which is testing for practicality.

Change has to be sustainable; you’re in this for the long haul. See what you can achieve by making small but significant changes to your habits. Invest more time in positive influences; it could be the podcast you listen to, blogs you read, people you hang out with, or personalities you follow.

Remember, design is a continuous, iterative process. Otherwise, we’d have stopped making new versions of the wheel, or tables and chairs, centuries ago. There are always unique needs to meet and new options for achieving them. The same goes for designing your life. Always be open to feedback, consider ways to change, and test them in your everyday routine.

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