When I work with event people I often find they have the answers to problems within them, it’s just that we sometimes need a little bit of help to get them out!
I also suspect that we can all do with some support to help navigate through all the changes in our lives right now, so I was thinking, as you know how to manage events, it may be a good time to put your knowledge to good effect in your own life. So how about using your ability to create meaningful events, to design your own life right now?
To help you on the way – here are 9 steps in a ‘mini Playbook’ – to Experience Design your Life.
1. Start with you, and your purpose
We are often told we should ‘start with the why’, and it is the same in Experience Design. We always start with understanding our audience, using some empathy to understand what their aspirations are, what they are feeling, thinking and doing, what their interests and desires are, and, what is holding them back.
And so for you, you may or may not have more time to reflect right now, but in the time you do have, it is worth having some empathy for yourself. Thinking about what you need right now.
What is important to you?
This ‘4 burners exercise’ might be useful to think that through.
The ‘Four Burners Theory’ recognises we only have so much gas to burn, so we need to decide how much energy we want to invest in the different parts of our lives. And this can be adjusted, we can turn these areas up, and turn them down, but we need to remember to take stock, and work out which ones are the priority at different stages of our lives.
What do you need to do more of, and, do less of right now?
Where do you want to be investing your time and energy for the next few months?
Personally, as Work is turned down a little, I’m using this phase to turn up the Family time. I’ve also added a ‘5th burner’, picking up the guitar again to help feed the soul while I can.
2. Sharing your purpose
Once we have worked out what’s important – can you share that with someone?
In the Experience Design Playbook, we always look to see where there is a shared interest across our audience, and where that may connect with our purpose as an event provider.
Right now, more than ever, we could all do with some connection with other likeminded people. As we know, things can be better when we do them with others.
So looking at what your purpose is right now, whether that be family, friends, work or health-related, who can you connect with to share that purpose?
3. Mapping the Journey
Where do you want to get to?
With the Playbook we then map the journey we want to take our audiences on, to give them some inspiration, and, to support them with their aspirations (their interests and purpose). We map out the steps and the story of their journey with our event. From the initial anticipation to participation and then the reflection phases.
While many of our timelines in life are largely unknown right now, you may be able to start a new journey, with some defined, or ‘to be defined’ timelines. We can set some initial milestones, the first steps toward a next horizon.
So have a think about your aspirations, and then the support you need to achieve that right now. Whether that be fundamental stuff, the information or knowledge, or social support, emotional support, or do you need more inspiration? It’s with looking at each layer of your needs and putting things in place to support you during this phase of life.
4. Using the ‘Elements of Influence’
When we are ‘Experience Designing’ we know that in essence, events are about a group of people coming togther, at a time and place, to share an interest, and ideally a shared purpose.
And so we can also play around with these elements of influence to design our own life experiences. To create day to day events that have a positive impact on our daily lives.
The Elements to Influence
5. The Influence of People – those around us
When we design events we know that what other people think, say and do has an immense influence on how our audiences think, feel, and act.
While we can’t all come together physically right now, the day-to-day interactions we have between us can still have a significant influence.
So an important step in ‘designing our lives’ and harnessing the positive influence of others, is to review and refine who is around you right now. And while we may be locked away and feel restricted with who we can speak with, it may actually be that you have more control over who you interact with, listen to, and connect with. Who is best for you to connect with right now, either online or on the phone?
Thinking about who is ‘around’ you will have an immense influence on how you think, what you feel and what you do over the coming days and weeks.
Thinking about the people you need around you (more of, or less of!), is a valuable exercise.
What people give you energy? What people disrespect your time?
Who are the people you need around you, in each of the important parts of your life?
Personally, I have a list of people I want to keep checking in on, and I have made a habit of connecting with someone as I log off each day.
6. The Influence of People – the thoughts within us
The other side of looking into the influence of people is looking inside, at the influence we have on ourselves, such as how we make our decisions. All the deliberate decisions we make, but also the unconscious decisions we make. And as 95% of our actions each day come from our automatic habits, this is an important place to start.
The Experience Loop
Who are the people, the things, and the moments that will act as positive cues that you can use?
In Experience Design, we look at creating a series of ‘experience loops’, when the cues in our run sheets are used to have the influence we want to have. So scripting these moments, these cues in your life, can be a very helpful and practical way of nudging yourself the right way throughout your day.In ‘XD’ we look at the cues we can use to influence our audiences, so the ‘cue and response loop’ is worth looking at for you right now. As humans, we automatically behave in response to the cues around us, the environment, the people, the things we have around us.
Significant changes in our lives, new circumstances and environments are the right time to develop good habits (and not fall into bad ones), so think about how you can apply the following simple habit formation formulas* in your life right now. Today.
I will [BEHAVIOUR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]
7. The influence of the Places – and things around us.
As event providers and experience designers, we know the significant influence the venues, the location and spaces we put people in will have on what people think, feel and do. We carefully select and curate these environments as we know this will make or break whether the event will be the influential experience we hope it will be.
So, in your home/new workspace/new lifestyle set yourself up for success by putting things around you that will help you achieve what you want to achieve (that is what you stated in Step 1!).
What will allow you to feel good about the various important parts of your life right now? What props and prompts do you need to help you in the right direction in your fitness, with your family and friends? And in your career? What distractions can you remove to help you achieve these things?
This includes the physical spaces and the online places you put yourself into! Choose the inputs that surround you, to get better outputs.
For me, I’ve made sure I have a space for working, and some for fun. Even in a small house we can designate a desk or even a chair as the place to do something. I also use one device for work, and another is strictly for non-work stuff.
8.The influence of Time – the milestones and moments
Last but not least, as event designers, we know the influence of milestones, of deadlines. And of key moments within our events, that help us create stand out moments and memorable experiences.
So in our lives, especially when we are in isolation, having some pre-planned deadline on your day, in your week, will serve as an automatic call to action. And some defining moments in your daily ‘run sheet’, will keep you on the right course.
An easy way to trick yourself to do this is to tag a new positive habit on to the back of something you already do – like cleaning your teeth, eating lunch, or checking Facebook!
After [CURRENT HABIT] I will [NEW HABIT].
And don’t forget that having some peaks, some highlights and a few rewards will make sure life doesn’t just become a routine – and act as a reminder that we can still live a little!
After [CURRENT HABIT] I will [NEW HABIT I NEED].
After [HABIT I NEED], I will reward myself with [SOMETHING I WANT!].
What are the prompts to your behaviour, and how can you nudge these for a positive effect?
9. The influence of Experiences
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” ― Maya Angelou.
I use this quote a lot when speaking about the powerful tool we have at our disposal as event providers. But let’s keep you in mind this time. Its time to show ourselves a little bit of love. To be kind to others, and to yourself, to set yourself up for success, whatever that needs to look like for you right now.
And so, I hope these steps from my Playbook may help you design your life right now, and, maybe you can use your skills to hep design the lives of others.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days” – Annie Dillard
If you would like to explore this approach further, I’m running small group sessions that you can use to put these things in place in your life. Please just register your interest to tap into it!
And if I can support you in any way, to look ahead at what may be next for you, please just let me know.