Last month I had the pleasure of participating in one of Ayse Birsel's "Design the Life You Love" workshops. I attended with a few friends at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and we left pleasantly surprised at what a 3 hour design-driven self-exploration workshop unearthed. You see, Ayse is an accomplished industrial designer who experienced a very interesting turn of events. In the midst of the Great Recession of 2008, Ayse pitched work to an automotive firm hoping to be hired to design objects for the firm. Instead, they invited Ayse to teach them her design process. This shift led her to examine the application of her design process in her own life, to author the book Design The Life You Love and develop an accompanying workshop.
Through a process of mapping, deconstruction, applying metaphor, and then reconstruction (a classic diverge/converge process used regularly in design), the Design The Life You Love method helps you to articulate meaning in your life and define new possibilities. Notably, Ayse offers a similar workshop to office teams, called "Design the Work You Love". Here are 4 reasons why you should design your life using Ayse's approach:
1) Deconstruct, In Order To Construct. The deconstruction process is really a series of reverse engineering steps- applied on you! Ayse guides you through several ways to map your life and identify what is meaningful to you. A series of visual word clusters helps you to discern themes- and sometimes the themes you neglect to mention or write down are most noteworthy. Maps are great tools because they help us to see scale, connect the dots, and identify alternative routes.
2) Get In Touch With Your Inner Hero. My favorite part of the workshop is when you are asked to describe your heroes- only to discover that their wonderful attributes are within you. Sometimes they are hidden, other times they have been right in front of you. What is amazing is that paying attention to your heroes actually magnifies your own aptitude, which serves as a guide in your life.
3) Metaphors Are Cool Tools. The use of metaphor is a powerful one. Metaphors are applied in many aspects of business development, especially in branding. For example the book The Hero and The Outlaw (by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson) gives powerful examples of using archetypes to analyze brands. The metaphor(s) you develop in the Design The Life You Love workshop serves as a homing device, a lighthouse that can become the basis of how you shape your career.
4) Doodle. I have written about the value of doodling in other INC.com blogs (e.g.: "7 Ways That Doodling Will Change Your Life"), and it really became clear in this process. Whether through visually diagramming your ideas in clusters, or crudely sketching the face of the person seated next to you, there is nothing like simply doodling an idea. We are hard wired to be visual creatures, hearkening back to the Fight/Flight trigger in our brain's hypothalamus. Doodling makes our ideas more recognizable, tangible, and they provide an easier way to get feedback.
Ultimately, design is a process. In its ideal state, design results in the transformation of objects, services and experiences that convert into value in our lives. You may spend a lot of time applying some of the principles above to your client work- try turning it on yourself for staying power.
You can follow Ayse at @AyseBirselSeck.