Design relates to the act of conceiving of and producing a plan of something before it is made. We design our houses, our style, our social media pages — so why not design your life too!?
This may sound lofty and unrealistic, and it can feel difficult trying to balance work and your personal life while also trying to find time to be creative. But what’s worse in my opinion is leading a hectic life doing something that doesn’t drive your creativity and fuel your passion.
Today, there seems to be so much talk about “finding your purpose” and making that a priority. But what does it really mean? To me, it means finding deeper meaning and doing work that you are proud of. It will be different for each of us, but when you design a life you love, it’s easier to get up in the morning knowing that you’re going to be doing something that makes you feel great. You are in the drivers seat of your life, so figure out what you want to make of it and get sketching.
This is where Ayse Birsel comes in, an award-winning designer known for her work with IKEA, Amazon, and GE. Birsel wrote a book on this concept, and strongly believes that we all should be designers of our own life. Each of us have different, driving forces that motivate and inspire us.
We can’t have everything, and designing the life of your dreams will require that you figure out what you’re willing to give up and sacrifice versus what’s most important. These are the aspects that make up your life — money, time, age, location, health, and a variety of other factors.
So if you’re trying to imagine new ways to change your future and do something different, here are Birsel’s 4 tips for designing a life that you can love!
1. Deconstruct Your Life
This doesn’t mean knocking down the whole house, but rather trying to deconstruct your life by taking it apart piece by piece and figuring out what can stay versus what can go. Just because things are the way they are now doesn’t mean they always have to stay the same. Are you truly happy in this job, relationship, or city? Is there a reason you’ve been spending all your time doing X instead of something else?
By assessing what’s going on in your life you can better understand what makes you happy and what is just “there”. Decide what’s real and true for you. And trust yourself — if something just isn’t sitting right or doesn’t feel right, go with your gut. It may be something hard to come to terms with, but change is usually a good thing.
The practice of deconstructing is great to practice along with mindfulness. Mindfulness is similar to meditation, in that you are meant to sit still and observe your thoughts without judgement or criticism attached to them. So, if you’re trying to figure out if your job or career path is right for you, take a moment to sit still and think about it. What thoughts emerge? Do ideas of anxiety and stress come up, or does it make you feel excited and passionate? By taking the time to deconstruct the different aspects of your life you can better figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what misconceptions and you may have.
2. Point of View
The point of view at which you stand is inherently unique, so use it to your advantage. What skills, expertise, and strengths do you have to offer? Whether it’s your life experiences, your ability to connect with others, your unique fashion sense, or your love of data and numbers, figure out what makes you stand out!
Once you’ve deconstructed each aspect of your life, you can better figure out your point of view. Think of your particular situation and attitude as a distinct advantage that sets you apart from the crowd. Don’t try to blend in with others — stand out and take advantage of where you stand.
When you take inventory of your life and figure out what you want to create in the future, you can figure out how to put it all back together.
You can’t have everything, but the things that are important deserve to take a front seat! What do your next 5, 10, or 15 years look like? Focusing on the things that are most important to you can really make the most of your life each day.
The last step is figuring out what your new life will look like! Just like we each have a different point of view, we each have a unique way of expressing ourselves.
Find people you look up to who are on a similar path. What has led to their success? What can you learn from them? Adapt others’ successes to your own journey and pave your own way.
But most importantly? Be open to change, failure, and lots of laughter along the way.
Make sure you can say you are making the most of your life. Let's connect if you believe you would benefit from more of my thoughts on this topic XO