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Find Difficulty In Achieving Your Goals? You Should Adopt This New Way Of Thinking

Find Difficulty In Achieving Your Goals? You Should Adopt This New Way Of Thinking

Do you have a major goal in your life that you are trying to achieve, but you are stuck in a rut as to how to get there? Have you broken down the steps needed to reach this goal? Sure, you probably have. Yet, you may be unsure about how to get started. The problem may lie in the way you look at your goals. You may be looking at the steps as problems to overcome instead of solutions to reaching your goal.

If you can change your mindset and start looking at goals as solutions, science has shown that you can develop more creative ideas. In the 1980s, business professors at Stanford University started teaching a relatively new business concept called Design Thinking. Design Thinking in business is intended to help businesses research and develop new products for customers based on their needs.

Design Thinking is based on five steps. They are:

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1. Empathize: This requires the researchers to fully understand the experiences of the person for whom they are designing the solution. It’s done through observation, interaction, and working side-by-side to learn their problems.

2. Define: This step is where the researchers process the results of their findings in the first step in order to find a point of view to address with the design of the product or solution.

3. Ideate: Now, the researchers will brainstorm and work to develop numerous different possible solutions. They should be as diverse as possible to allow the researchers to step outside the box and explore many original ideas.

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4. Prototype: Here is where researchers take their best ideas and develop them into physical solutions. Perhaps it’s a new product or service. This will be delivered to users in the last step.

5. Test: Of course, after developing the prototype solutions, the researchers must test them with the users they empathized with. Testing includes feedback on results to refine and improve the prototypes. It even includes learning more about the user and possibly adjusting your definitions even more to perfect your solution.

So, now that we know how businesses use Design Thinking, how can you use this mindset to accomplish your personal goals? One writer recently used Design Thinking to help her lose 25 pounds. It can also be used to find a life partner, a new job, go on that dream vacation, start a new hobby, or whatever goal you truly have.

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Let’s take one of those goals from above and talk about how Design Thinking can help you achieve it. Imagine with me that your goal is to find a new job. We’ll go through the steps to see how we can accomplish that goal.

Empathize: Why do you want a new job? If you’re not working currently, that’s an easy question to answer—you need to make money. If you are currently working, what is it about your current job that makes you want to find another? Is it better compensation and benefits you’re looking for? Is it a better environment, or do you want a more rewarding work experience? Understanding the reason why you truly want a new job will help you in finding it. The key is to start asking yourself why you want this and what it would accomplish for you.

Define: After asking yourself these questions, here comes the hardest part—defining which answer is the real reason. Maybe you are disappointed with the money you’re getting paid, but the real root of the problem is that you are bored with your job and you need a new challenge in a new field. The point is, this where you find the true answer to those why and what questions.

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Ideate: If you decide that you need a new challenge, and you’re not getting that through your current employer, you need to start formulating ideas of what potential employers can provide you with those opportunities. Start making a list of those companies and the positions you want. Be as radical as you can here to make sure you think of the best ideas. Changing jobs is not a minor decision to make.

Prototype: In our case here, this may seem hard to do. In reality, it’s not. Imagine the job you want. Create it in your mind and then develop a model of it at home or at another location outside of your current place of work.

Test: Now, try doing that job and record the results. Does it increase your happiness? If yes, then start pursuing that new job in the field you want until you find it. You may even need to use Design Thinking to land that interview with the specific company you want to work for. If your answer to the happiness question is no, then you will need to return to step two and make sure you have defined the true issue and continue from there until you get a yes.

By using the Design Thinking method, you are able to better understand your goals, why they mean so much to you, and you instantly become more creative in figuring out ways to achieve them.

Featured photo credit: Paxson Woelber via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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