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Stories of Lives Well Designed: Mallory O’Connor

Our latest story in our series of lives well-designed comes to us from Vancouver, BC in Canada. Her formal title is Mallory O’Connor, Practice Lead, Culture and Transformation at Habanero Consulting, but she’s had many stages in her career. Mallory is also the mom of two teens. Our interview is below.

Where were you when you discovered Designing Your Life?

“I believe I was listening to a podcast at the gym! As someone who’s made a career of human centered research and design, the methodology spoke right to my heart. I was struggling to find direction for the next stage of my career and it felt like a framework that was made for me.”

How has Designing Your Life helped you design a more joyful, well-lived one at home and/or work?

It’s helped me in many ways! Through the process, I’ve been able to identify my own personal guiding principles, something that terrified me to declare before going through this journey. Identifying them has helped me know what to say yes to (and as importantly) what to say no to. I’ve been super open with my coach at work as I went through the DYL process, which has resulted me being able to transparently and authentically explore changes in my focus at work. It informed my decision to stay at my company and craft my next role, with my principles at the core, at a place I love, with colleagues I’m so very lucky to work with. DYL came into my life at a time where my personal life was on the brink of a lot of change as well – my children needing me differently as they gained independence, and verging on a future with my husband where our focus is more on each other again. We are experimenting with various potential professional futures and working styles, and shaping a vision for the next stage of our family life, which includes blending work and travel and seeing the world together. The process has also helped me declare my interest in the arts in my local community. I’ve been able to step into new and fulfilling volunteer activities with the Vancouver Mural Festival that align with my principles and use my professional expertise in new ways (using my experience design know-how to apply to festival engagement and experience and now serving as the co-chair on the festival’s board of directors.) Overall, I’ve made choices in all aspects of my life that stem from knowing myself better. People around me have been curious about the changes I’ve made, and I’ve been fortunate to share my story with my colleagues at work and in my community. It’s allowed me to recommend DYL to many people (hopefully without sounding too cult-y – and have even inspired a few folks to trigger their own journeys.

What now? How do you design your life on a regular basis?

I feel like I’m mid-experiment at the moment – I’m getting feedback on my experiences as I go, and adapting my odysseys. I continue to check in on my progress with my thinking partner (who I undertook the process with) and I expect I may want to refresh some of my thinking this year based on my progress. I feel like the DYL approach needs to be continuous – it’s not “done”; rather, it will iterate based on what I learn from my efforts.

We thank Mallory for taking the time to share her sights. Learn more about her powerful journey here, or say hello on insta/twitter @malloryjoconnor.

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