DYLW Featured / Tips for Designing Your Life / Women / workshop

Designing Your Life Experience By Marcella Lopez

In 2019, I attended the Designing Your Life workshop in San Francisco to prepare for a career transition. The workshop equipped me with life design strategies and tools that enabled me to leave my job of seven years and become a thriving entrepreneur.

Here are some of the life design strategies that I used to redesign my career:

  1. Odyssey planning. Reflecting on my lifeview and workview, I was asked to design/draw three alternative future “lives” that I would like to have, practicalities aside. In two of the “lives” that I drew, I had a career in healthcare consulting. In the first version, I was a consultant at a healthcare organization. In the second version, I started my own healthcare consulting company. At the time, those career paths didn’t seem very realistic, but they came up in my consciousness when I did my life designing, so I wrote them down anyway. After the workshop, these two ideas stuck with me and became visions of a reality I wanted to explore.
  2. Social intelligence. There are different types of knowledge: cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, and social intelligence. My aha moment at DYL came with social intelligence—the wisdom of your crowd. Of course, I knew that I had amazing people in my life, but at that time I wasn’t very open to asking for help or insight from people outside my immediate circle. At DYL, we discussed how much talking to people (even those you don’t know) can help you in decision-making. After the workshop, I began to ask people more questions about topics that I had limited knowledge on. I was referred to more people to talk to who could offer even more information, and I talked to others in my larger network about career ideas I had—like consulting. The result? Stronger decision-making and a broader outlook, along with more intelligence and confidence to move forward on items of interest.
  3. Reordering activities. When thinking of daily activities, it’s important to note how they make you feel. Do they drain your energy? Or do they give you energy? I began to redesign my days—I’d do an energy-draining activity, like doing dishes, and follow it up with an energy-giving activity, like reading or yoga. I began to restructure my day so that I limited the amount of back-to-back energy-draining activities I’d have to do and reordered them so the energy-giving activities became my reward. I noticed that I started feeling better emotionally, mentally, and physically, because I had more control over the structure of my day. Over time, I built off the things that I naturally enjoyed, like reading. When I read, it was relaxing, it spurred creativity, and I felt recharged.
  4. Prototyping. Before diving headfirst into a life change, it’s helpful to start small. This helps reduce risk and can build up failure immunity. A good prototype isolates one aspect of a problem and lets you try it out by designing an experience around it. Essentially, you take it for a “test drive.” Once I started reading more, my love of books came out again, and I became more interested in working in the editorial world. I did a life prototype by taking a course on proofreading. I loved it! I talked to people with editorial experience and learned more about the opportunities of starting a freelance business.

And remember my Odyssey plans of healthcare consulting? I decided to explore these ideas and prototype consulting work. I volunteered with a program I was involved with to do a pro bono consulting project. This was fun! I then discussed consulting options with business school classmates and even applied to some positions.

By prototyping and gathering social intelligence, I gained the confidence to go after my Odyssey Plans. I began to look into the steps needed to start my own freelance proofreading business. Then, I realized that if I did start my own business, I’d like to leave room for project work. And if I did take on project work, it would probably be in healthcare since that’s my background, and I thoroughly enjoy the field. From there, I decided to combine the two and take the leap to create my own freelance proofreading and healthcare consulting business. Enter, Marcella Healthcare Solutions, LLC!

It has been about a year since I completed the DYL workshop. I now own a freelance proofreading and healthcare consulting business, and I will be starting a full-time consulting role at a healthcare organization later this month. Turns out, ideating on what you want and taking small steps to explore different paths can lead to a truly well-designed life.