Throughout Change by Design, I tried to show that the designer’s skills can be applied to a wide range of problems—and also that these skills are accessible to a far greater range of people than may be commonly supposed. These two threads come together when we apply them to one of the most challenging problems of them all: designing a life. There is a big difference, though, between planning a life, drifting through life, and designing a life.
We all know of people who go through life with every step preplanned. They knew which university they would attend, which internship would lead to a successful career, and at what age they will retire. Unfortunately, this never works out as planned. And anyway, if you know the winner before the start, where’s the fun in the game?
Like any good design team, we can have a sense of purpose without deluding ourselves that we can predict every outcome in advance, for this is the space of creativity. We can blur the distinction between the final product and the creative process that got us there. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create. We can work within the constraints of our own natures—and still be agile, build capabilities, iterate. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, change our perspectives.
Think of today as a prototype. What would you change?
Image by Peter Macdonald / IDEO