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10 Things We Learnt About Life Design with Ayse Birsel

We are the cusp of a special moment.

Advances in healthcare over the last century mean that for many this can mean another 20–30 years on this planet. The majority of children born in the West today can expect to live to 100.

This isn’t something that has we’ve had to plan for before.

Ayse Birsel, the award-winning designer, coach and author was our guest on the Friday Fireside last week and prompted us to consider:

“Do you realise how thrilling this is?”

Ayse’s current focus is on how we can harness these potential extra years to make the most of our precious time on spaceship Earth.

I captured our discussion in these takeaways:

  1. Your life is your biggest project (so treat it as such)
    For most people life happens to us. But at some point, many of us find ourselves on a quest to find meaning. It’s at this point that a process like Ayse’s Deconstruction:Reconstruction becomes helpful as a guide.
  2. The principles of design can be applied our lives
    Optimism, collaboration and an open mind are a designer’s best friends and you can use them too. Always focus on a positive outcome ie. how can you can make things better?
  3. Playfulness and a growth mindset are vital
    The more challenging a problem, the more playfulness is important. So if a big decision feels heavy, start with baby steps and experimenting.
  4. You’re never too old to design your life
    Ayse has seen how her process works with people at all ages — from 10 to 90 years old.
  5. Constraints are your friend
    Having too many options isn’t always helpful. There’s freedom in constraints.
  6. Be patient
    Change take times. Don’t rush into things or expect immediate results.
  7. Be open to renewal throughout your whole life
    Despite having written books on this stuff and coaching thousands of others, Ayse has recently started designing her own life once again now her kids are flying the nest. It’s important to be open to changing whoever you are and whatever you do.
  8. Don’t hold on to your ideas
    An idea only becomes real when you share it — even if that means your immediate circle at first. Ideas when shared build clarity and connection.
  9. Embrace collaboration — it can build trust and friendships
    Ayse believes collaboration is simply about two things — asking people for help and offering help. She shared a couple of powerful examples of how simply asking for help lead to profound breakthroughs, and built relationships, that may have otherwise taken years.
  10. Each of us is extraordinarily creative (despite what we might think)
    As she said ‘we’re all designers until society knocks it out of us’. Don’t let a negative comment or powerful story from your childhood limit your ability to embrace change later in life. Your life is your biggest project, so start designing it.

You can watch/listen to the full episode here

📘 Ayse’s new book Design the Long Life You Love is out this December, you can pre-order it here.

🏕 Ayse will be one of the speakers at Happy Startup Summercamp — our 3 day festival of ideas and inspiration in the UK — when it returns this September. Learn more and how to apply at www.happystartupsummer.camp

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Laurence McCahill

Laurence McCahill

Designer, coach, entrepreneur. Co-founder The Happy Startup School.