Throughout our life, we work on many various personal and professional projects. We travel, discover, meet new people, change careers and embark on new adventures. Some endeavours are bigger. Some are more important than others. Some lead to new beginnings.
All of these “experiences” shape us and have led to the conclusion that we are continuously “designing a product of ourselves”. With or without us being conscious about it.
“Above all, think of life as a product. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, and change our perspectives. We can look for opportunities to turn processes into projects that have tangible outcomes. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create whether they take the form of a fleeting experience or an heirloom that will last for generations. We can learn that reward comes in creation and re-creation, not just in the consumption of the world around us. Active participation in the process of creation is our right and our privilege. We can learn to measure the success of our ideas not by our bank accounts by their impact on the world.” – Tim Brown
I stumbled upon this quote by Tim Brown and it really clicked with me. As a UX designer, I research users and try to build better solutions (and products) every day. On the other hand, I admit that paying the same attention to the “product of you” is many times much more difficult. It gets forgotten, left aside as a “freelance” project or simply not taken as a priority. Life happens.
Active participation in the process of creation of yourself includes deliberate actions and deliberate consciousness. Here’s what I think good process of continuous “Design of yourself” contains:
Define your Mission
The mission is never preexisting. And it is not easy to find and as Tim Brown highlighted. I think when you find something you are passionate about and you make it (one) of your life’s missions, you will find great joy and reward in the work you do. Otherwise, it is just a pay check, not a passion, nor a mission guiding you.
Clarify your Message
Just like a product, if you want to stand out, you must learn how to clarify the message of who you are, what you do and what is your value. It does not need to be set in stone, but it is crucial to answer these questions yourself. Clarity on what you stand for, what you strive for and what you expect reduces misunderstandings (for yourself and others).
I believe that we tend to simplify our life by going from task to task in a very industrial fashion. We work day-to-day, reserve self-improving for yearly reviews and occasional training at the beginning of a new year.
Cultivating yourself implies that you work towards building passion. It requires approaching your “product” as craftsmanship. Looking at yourself this way means continuously seeking new methods to improve, learning from mistakes and taking pride in accomplishments.
More than often we purchase something simply because we want to, not necessarily because we actually need it. We put it on a shelf, look at it for a few days after and then forget about it. We leave it “just in case” we might need it later in life.
Would you like to be kept “just in case”? I think it is so important to reflect what is the value and impact of you and your “product”. In a professional and personal level. The impact doesn’t need to be huge, the awareness of it is what matters.
Sometimes thinking small is a good starting point:
- Create something someone can use
- Inspire someone to take action
- Lend a helping hand
- Think about what you consume
- Show someone how to do something
- Show someone a better way
- Provide a new perspective
- Lead by example
- Listen more
- Give your full attention
- Just be there for someone
- Simply as that. Think and question the product of you. 365 days – 365 new chances
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