Design Your Future

Design Your Future

Christopher Murphy · 23 September, 2020

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score. —Bill Copeland

You can design your future and I’ve helped many designers – and non-designers – do just that. Put simply, you can use design methods to design not a product or a service, but yourself. I’ll be gathering resources that explain what I mean by this here.

Start with the tl;dr below. Or, if you’re a more visual learner, we’ve put together a carousel over at our Instagram.


Sidenote: We're adopting an #everythingisaprototype methodology at The School of Design. We're building everything in the open and sharing as we go. The quicker you get your ideas out there, the quicker you can test them. That's the beauty of the 'everything is a prototype' method. It gets you started.

This is a carousel idea for Instagram, but it works as a short, sharp version, like a tl;dr.

  1. Imagine if you could 'design your future': first designing it, then making that design a reality. You can do this!
  2. In 1962, John F Kennedy proclaimed: "We choose to go to the moon." It would be seven years before Neil Armstrong made it to the moon, uttering the famous phrase: "That's one small step for man…". They did it!
  3. Kennedy's speech provided an end goal. It was SMART.
  4. SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound
  5. With a SMART goal in hand, NASA could learn what needed to be learned to get the Americans from A → B.
  6. You can do the same. The first step is to start out laser-focused.
  7. You need to turn 'success' (too vague) into something concrete, 'an author, writing books about design' (much better).
  8. Once you've defined the goal, it's simple: Do the hard work to get there.
  9. That author was me: I had to learn how to write (books taught me that); I had to practice writing (10,000 hours!); and I had to learn how to network (getting over anxiety).
  10. Anything is possible. You just have to take the first step and start.

Building a job for yourself.

I love this tweet by Val Geisler (below) about how she ‘built a job for herself’.

The lesson? Just because a job ‘doesn’t exist’, doesn’t mean that you can’t create it. Anything is possible. The secret is:

  • first to imagine it;
  • second to articulate what the role entails; and
  • finally, to do it (and – even better, as Geisler did – persuade someone to pay you for it).

I show this tweet from Geisler to my students in The School of Design to persuade them that anything is possible.

If it worked for Geisler, it can work for you.