Sometime last year, one of my best friends and I conducted an exercise that applied design thinking techniques to what I think is best called “life planning.” Following a step-by-step manual, we had to decide on three guiding principles and values we consider essential. For each of the tenets, we then had to draw a visual five-year timeline. On each of the timelines, the task was to include personal and non-career events we’d want to see happen in our lives in the next few years.
Usually, when people think about doing something like this, they draft just one option. I personally find it puts a lot of pressure on me to only think of one option. Instead, drafting three different options – contradicting or similar ones – gave me a lot of inner peace. It was easy to write “everything” down because suddenly it didn’t matter if what I wrote down was the right choice. It was all optional and, thus, felt much more flexible.
What I especially enjoyed about the exercise was that my friend and I read what we had written out loud and commented on each other’s. Because we know one another fairly well and are used to being candid with one another, we also called each other out on our weaknesses, insecurities, and patterns.
The afternoon was, as you can imagine, rather eye-opening. Nevertheless and as is usually the case, nothing changed immediately. I folded the three sheets of paper filled with my potential life plans, stuck them in the back of my notebook, and more or less forgot about them.
When, six months later, my friend sent me a message to wish me a happy birthday, he asked if I’d made any progress on what I had written down that afternoon.
To my surprise and in that very moment, I realized that I was pursuing one of the big things I had included on one of the timelines. Something that, at the time of the exercise, I didn’t even think was realistic in any way.
I had written down that I wanted to go on a road trip in a camper van.
That’s precisely what happened this past July.
My partner and I left Berlin for five weeks. We traveled from Amsterdam through the south of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, and further on to France where we drove from coast to coast before heading back up to the Netherlands with an overnight stop in Brugge.
It wasn’t my intention to go on vacation for five weeks; living in Berlin, I often seem to forget that the world is not as digital as I sometimes like to believe. For the first time since I started freelancing, it was difficult to get my work done – at least as soon I needed internet. So, even though I’m a member of the rebranding team for the Swing Kitchen, working on the brand bible and planning what we’ll do with Swing Kitchen’s website, which will be redesigned soon, there isn’t much to be shared about work in July’s review.
I'm currently fully booked and working on the rebranding of the Swing Kitchen, vegan burger chain from Vienna, and also producing and designing their stand at the Veganes Sommerfest at Alexanderplatz. I'm hoping to make more progress on this project now that I'm back from vacation, and I’ll share more about it here next month.