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Use Design Thinking for Positive Change

by Beth on January 16th, 2018

Are there things you’d like to do differently in 2018? According to one study, only 9% of people achieve their New Year’s resolution. We often give up trying to change our behavior because of the way our brains react to failure. Let’s say you resolve to go to the gym before work 3 days a week. Then, as luck would have it, the East Coast is hit by a “bomb cyclone” of freezing temperatures and you just can’t force yourself to face the frigid morning air, so you miss a day or two. Your brain considers this a failure, and, in an attempt to prevent you from wasting time repeating a failed behavior, it will suppress your motivation to try again.

Design thinking can empower you to make positive change that will stick. It’s the creative process used by designers like architects or engineers to solve problems. Design thinking is iterative, meaning it’s a repetitive process of making small improvements to come up with a better design. This means there is no failure; each stage in the process becomes a starting point for a better solution.

Using design thinking can trick your mind, making it easier to change your behavior. If your goal of going to the gym 3 mornings a week isn’t working, you haven’t failed, you just need to come up with a way to improve your plan. Maybe you’ll be more likely to go in the afternoon when it isn’t so cold and dark. Or perhaps you should pay in advance for a month’s worth of exercise classes. Or promise to meet a friend at a certain time.

Don’t approach your goals with the expectation that you will succeed. Expect that you will need to tweak and adjust things as you go along. Thinking of your goal as something that will continually evolve prevents you from experiencing failure, which keeps you motivated. Even when you come up with a plan that works, circumstances will change and at some point you will need to adjust your plan again. Use design thinking to make small, continual, positive changes as you build a better life.

If you’d like to learn more, here are a couple of books to check out:

Designing Your Life and Well Designed Life

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