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UX your NY Resolutions

I'd like to wish all my readers a very healthy, happy and successful 2017. At this time of year many of us have resolutions to make changes in our life. It might be losing weight, stopping smoking or spending more time doing things that are important to us. But it isn't easy changing habits. Maybe you need a little help. While my book talks about making changes in how you think and act in your chosen profession you can quite easily take the same approach to New Year Resolutions. You can apply the techniques of User Experience Design to anything you want to do.

So let’s use the same 5 step approach as I do in the UX OF ME…

1 - Observation

If you want to make any change in your life first you first need to understand what has led to your current state and what might stop you from shifting your behaviour. Take a hard and honest look at yourself and understand why you are in the place you're in. But don't be too hard on yourself. You have strengths as well as weaknesses and these will allow you to achieve your goals for 2017. Focusing on the positive is the best way to begin.

Don’t forget the people around you either. Who in your life might make it hard for you to succeed in your resolution? Is there someone always inviting you out for drinks and you just can’t resist? Does your other half love cooking unhealthy but delicious meals? The people surrounding you can impact how you succeed. So finding ways to minimise their influence (or change their behaviour) might be your key to reaching your goal. Achieving real clarity on your situation can help you develop a strategy later to help you stick to your resolution.

2 - Inspiration

This is where you need to come up with a few ideas for achieving your 2017 goals. Sometimes it helps to make things concrete, so if you want to lose weight try finding a photo of someone that looks just like you want to look. Keep it somewhere handy and look at it from time to time so you can picture the future you. In my book I talk about identifying a hero in your profession who has the kind of behaviours you’d like to have. Is there someone in your social circle that represents what you’d like to achieve in 2017? How do they manage it? Write down your goals in a diary to fix the resolution as clearly as possible. Try describing how others might see you after your transformation.

Next you need to develop a plan for how you are going to reach your goal. If it’s losing weight then how will you go about that in a healthy way? If you resolve to spend less time online and more on real life moments what actions can you take to reach that goal or what mindset must you change? For every resolution there are steps that you can take, so do some research to see how others have achieved what you’re aiming for then get ready to test some of them. In User Experience Design you develop a list of potential solutions to a problem then try them out as prototypes. The new you can be made possible by using exactly this method.

3 - Testing & Revision

What works for someone else may not work for you. So based on your plan try out some of the solutions you came up with and see how they go. Keep a diary and rate the outcome of all your experiments. I keep talking about losing weight (as it’s my goal for 2017) so perhaps you can try cutting down on carbs. You might end up feeling extremely tired at work which isn’t a great result, so adjust as you go along. Or perhaps you try eating half a plate of dinner instead of one that's piled up. Maybe you work in an office with free snacks. Resisting the urge to indulge might be one way to your goal. In my book I quote Ed Catmull of Pixar who talks about going from "suck to not-suck". It can take many small improvements to achieve the result you want. But once you’ve found what works for you it’s time to commit.

4 - Action

Now the hard work begins so you have to find the right way to fuel your motivation to adopt this new behaviour no matter how hard it seems. Knowing what motivates you is the best way to make sure you stay on track. In my book I talk about Love and Fear being the great motivators. If you want to stop smoking it might be because you love your kids and want to be around when they grow up. Or you’re afraid that you will never wear your favourite outfits again if you put on more weight so that’s what will push you to keep on track with your diet. Set yourself some milestones to keep yourself motivated. Ultimately it’s all a mind game so you need a few rewards along the way. Think of a way to treat yourself for sticking to your resolution without it putting you back to square one. Don’t give up because the end result will be worth all the effort.

5 - Re-evaluation

In UX nothing is ever finished. Imagine that you lose that 10 kilos by the end of the 2017. Great job! But it’s too easy to fall back into old habits so make sure that you look back on how you succeeded and make a long term plan how to stick to the new improved you.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. It’s great to make positive changes in your life as long as they are realistic. Make 2017 an amazing year and don’t forget to do something great for others too. Self-improvement shouldn’t be purely selfish. At the end of the day it’s how you improve the world around you and the people closest to you that really counts.

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