User experience (UX) design is all about the process. As my own protagonist, I choose to take an iterative approach to the way I create solutions for various pain points of life. I aim to increase high-value activities and eliminate behaviors and functions that don’t contribute to my personal happiness. Similar to physical products or mobile platforms, life presents meaningful experiences along with challenging struggles. Today, I’m sharing eight lifestyle redesigns that have empowered me to live a valuable and contributive life.
1. Running to run for the marathon
One of my lifelong goals is to complete the NYC Marathon. When a family member was recently paralyzed, I realized that I could also unexpectedly lose my everyday movements. I decided to get New York Road Runners membership and race to qualify for the marathon because this is a goal I need to work on when my body is still 100%. Getting up to run is difficult because all excuses sound legitimate. To motivate myself, I input obnoxious calendar alerts and keep my shorts in an easy-to-access area of my room. I bought an expensive pair of Asics so that I actually wear them and am automatically on running mode. I make sure my friends keep me accountable so I don’t slack off. These strategies helped me eliminate excuses and streamlined the process of getting ready to run so I can commit to my daily workouts.
2. Investing in learning
I want to become a UX designer and researcher. To help me get there, I started investing my time, effort and money towards online courses and other learning materials to develop my expertise. This means that I’ve given up other spendings to make room in my budget so I can afford my learning endeavors. My career is my biggest priority. UX designers are not just about making the interface look beautiful and serve a functional purpose. They also need to be business-minded when it comes to the design process and put their time, effort and money into areas that have high returns on investments. Choosing to invest in my learning over a designer dress has definitely been more beneficial to progressing towards my desired career path.
3. Changing my verbal habits
Designing for UX is all about storytelling. To be a more compelling storyteller, I have been focusing on incorporating verbal habits that express charisma and persuasiveness. For example, I’ve eliminated phrases like “I can’t” or “I have no choice” because I want my language to show personal responsibility. I focus on asking questions, displaying sincere appreciation and complimenting others. If users were presented with unwelcoming language and confusing instructions, they would not continue to use the platform. Relatable language and consistency keep users engaged and allow them to feel like they are part of the story being told. I want people to feel exactly like that whenever I engage in dialogues with them.
4. Sticking to a foolproof wardrobe
I focus on accumulating pieces that will never make me question how good I look because that ultimately translates to confidence and empowerment. My custom tailored suits are my secret weapons. I live in well-fitted and flattering sheath dresses. Unique and one-of-a-kind accessories tell my story without saying a word. I take a methodical approach with the pieces I collect and consider maintenance, versatility and performance. Similarly, the visual appearance of the user interface is critical. If the design is consistent throughout, users would never have to question or doubt the reliability of the platform. To take it a step further, users derive joy and excitement when they can make personal tweaks such as setting a background of their choice. A tool should be designed in a way that users don’t experience any insecurities and doubt. My wardrobe is designed so that I can focus on other important tasks without worrying how I look.
5. Decluttering and purging
Three years ago, I got rid of almost everything and shoved what I was left with into two suitcases. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Having limited belongings seems restricting but it is truly liberating. I’ve got a series of articles on why you should declutter and how you go about it published here and a couple more in drafting. My collection is a set of curated things that I absolutely love. This process has been all about trimming down to the necessities and keeping it simple. Users love simple interfaces and functions and that’s why Apple products, for example, are so popular. The Gmail platform is often preferred over Outlook because the interface is clean and user-friendly. Keeping it down to the essentials sounds easy in theory but difficult in practice. However, when executed to perfection, the efforts are absolutely worthwhile.
6. Networking and reaching out to people
I always see articles on my Feedly and LinkedIn updates on why networking is critical. For the longest time, I’ve dismissed this advice thinking that I would suck at it since I’m painfully introverted. I doubted the value that networking could bring to me and was afraid to be disappointed. I was such a fool. Talking to people in the industry and going to events that relate to my career interests are probably the best things I’ve done for myself. It helped me solidify my goals and gave me the confidence to proceed. As I develop my career, I realize that I couldn’t have done it without all the people I’ve interacted with. Similarly, designing an incredible product cannot happen without collaborative efforts. Reaching out to people on the design team and ensuring smooth communication is key to creating a product that will ultimately be used by many who are seeking solutions to their problems.
7. Expressing compassion to others
As a Buddhist, I often get guidance that praying for other people’s happiness is just as important as praying for your own happiness. Although I’ve resisted this thought for a long time, I realized that putting other people’s happiness at the same level of priority as mine could help me experience the same. When a friend accomplishes a goal or achieves something big, I’m able to be happy for him/her. In UX, this is all about empathy for the users. Designers should talk to users and try to understand what their struggles are in order to produce a good solution. When users begin using that new tool and express delight, designers also feel a sense of joy when they are able to help the user. Empathy, however, does not come easy and requires the individual to let go of his or her ego, open their ears and have a broad mind that thrives on curiosity.
8. Prioritizing myself and my happiness
Learning to love myself and practicing self-confidence have been things I have made leaps of progress. Now, I’m able to embrace the confident woman that I am and know that no matter what, I’m an incredible person. It’s tempting to use other people as self-assurance and put the blame on external factors but that’s basically giving other authority to act for your happiness. Don’t ever take that power away from yourself. To thrive as a UX designer, I need to display that same confidence and self-assurance towards my work. It is just as important to stand behind your work as designing something phenomenal that many people will use. It is also about presenting the ideas confidently, while simultaneously being open to constructive feedback.
I hope these points serve as inspiration for you to reevaluate certain areas of your life. Through my examples, you can see how parts of the user experience design and research process are applicable to occurrences in everyday life. If design theories and methodologies can be applied to the process of creating great products and experiences, they can also be applied to the way value is found in life. To reiterate, UX is all about the process and at no point, life will be perfect. We have to roll with the punches and proactively make the changes to owning your life.