Our Thoughts

How Design Thinking Helps to Design Life?

Sept. 11, 2018 Mandeep Toor

Want more from your life?

Then you are at the right place.

Because today I’m going to show you the exact Design Thinking mindset tools that I use to create joyful, meaningful and fulfilling lives for people.

The best part?

From my experience of conducting design your life workshops all these proven designer mindsets are working fabulously for people.

So - let’s do this!


And here are the five mindets you'll learn about in this post. 

1. Use self awareness to accept life as a process

Life is a process. There is no end goal to it and you need to accept and focus on the process.

During this process, you need to accept that you are going to make mistakes. And there are going to be failures.

You need to make quick changes in your life as it is an iterative process, and hence you begin with a quick, yet strong assessment of your life to understand why there is a feeling of loss of control. This is absolutely critical to self awareness and understanding yourself.

Self awareness takes time as there are several layers to it. The trick is to get to the inner levels, so that you understand the core reason of the stress in your life. And to help you figure out your levels; the basic tool to help you empathize with yourself could be as simple as an old-fashioned paper journal.

Here’s the deal:

Start a personal journal to build deeper insights into your own behaviour and state-of-being. While you feel that you already know yourself too well, journaling helps in evolving insights and themes that you are not deeply aware of until they are agonizingly noticeable on a sheet of paper.

Put no restrictions on your writing; write down any thought or feeling that comes to mind without editing. It feels scary at first, even knowing that you plan to keep your journal private. However, journaling can be mentally freeing and an activity you would gradually love.

TinkerLabs Design Strategist, Samina Rahman, shares images of her personal journal to show how creative and imaginative your personal journal can be.

TinkerLabs Design Strategist, Samina Rahman, shares images of her personal journal to show how creative and imaginative your personal journal can be.



Now that you have your journal, it’s almost time to put pen to paper.

Before you do, make sure to read the next step on my list…

2. Use Reframing to get Unstuck

You surely don’t want to waste time working on the wrong problem.

So, in Design Thinking we put more emphasis on finding out the right problem.

Because working on the wrong problem might take up a lot of time unnecessarily in your life.

And as Ellis Wyatt says in Atlas Shrugged: “Our Days are numbered.” So surely we don’t want to waste our days working on the wrong (even if it is a good) problem.

Your journal will help you in sculpting the structure and insights you need to help clearly identify your problems. The journal will help you identify what is missing from your life and what is already good on a subjective personal sense.

But here’s the kicker:

Self-awareness will help you find dysfunctional beliefs and reframing those dysfunctional beliefs will help you design a meaningful life.

This is a simple case of “How Might I…” statement(s) in preparation for ideation.

Once you have found out the right problem; move onto the next step.


3. Radical Collaboration makes your life 10x Better.

You know what the secret of a successful life is.

It is radical collaboration. That’s the secret of the best designers in the world too.

They are not afraid to ask for help on their problems. Because they know that design problems do not have fixed or predetermined outcomes.

Similar are life problems, they also do not have any predetermined or fixed outcome.

But like designers you can have many ideas to work on if you have many people in your team working on one problem.

Here’s the deal:

Problem statements and themes in hand, start brainstorming ideas as to how you might address each challenge. List each theme at the top of its own sheet of paper and try to generate as many different ideas for potential solutions as you can.

After the initial brainstorm for your ‘Design Challenge’, sampling of ideas will surface from your ideation (How Might I Simplify My Life?):

  • Take the help of close friends and family
  • Put yourself out there, even if you’re anxious about being judged or misinterpreted
  • Either remove activities that weigh you down or structure a way to get them done through automation or delegation.
  • Design an absolutely functional morning routine that helps you seamlessly tackle the day and saves your decision-making energy for the more important decisions

As soon as you have added practical ideas to your journal, move onto the next step of life design process.


4. Prototype Your New Life to be happy

Everyone knows that designers have bias towards action.

They are committed to work their way forward.

They don’t only sit on bench and figure out what needs to be done. They actually get into the game and try things.

Coming on to you, you can also take a leaf from the designer’s book and start acting on ideas for your life.

Here’s how you can actually do it:

Pair few of the key insights from your journal with your favourite ideas from the ideation session and put them into a notebook for deep reflection. This will help you as a working prototype. Your prototype could just be something, anything that takes some sort of physical form so that you can interact with it. You would be amazed as to how your prototype journal can have some pretty straight-forward guidance for simplifying your life.


5. Test it with your team for better results

You can share your life’s prototype with the team. Your team needs to have a group of people who need to be alongside you as you design your meaningful life.

They don’t have to be your best friends. They just need to be willing to show up for you. They also need to be helpfully attentive and reflective with you and to respect and care about the process.

And most importantly they should not be full of answers and advice.

You need to meet these people at regular intervals and share specifics from your life design and get honest feedback. They will be the people who will be tracking you regularly on that project.

Faces of people who will be in your team might have already started coming in your mind.

Like a Design Thinking sprint, a healthy team should not be less than two and more than six people.

Ideal team size would be from three to five people.

The bottom line is?

Test the prototype of your newly designed life with your selected team and make iterations.

Reiterating what I said in the beginning, life is an iterative process.

So keep moving forward and enjoying life.


Now it’s your turn

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which of the steps of designer’s mindset you want to use in your life?

Which one of the designing your life exercises do you like the most?

Are you going to start writing your journal?

Or maybe you want to start by reframing your life.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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