Designing a good solution starts out with asking a good question - or not?

"Defining your challenge" - Life Designing Part 2

Creating good solutions starts with asking good questions. I think few people would disagree with this statement.

So why don’t we start our Life Design process with asking our burning question or the challenge we are facing right now?

Why is “Defining the challenge” the second step in the design process, after we already spent time and effort with all this “Empathizing” the step of tuning in and re-connecting with ourselves?

Wouldn't it be much more efficient and time saving to place our burning question right at the beginning of our Life Design journey so we can explore in a more targeted and more specific way how this question relates to our current life situation?

I would like to answer this questions with a wonderful quote from Albert Einstein:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

Interesting thought, isn’t it?

So wouldn’t this mean that if we start our Life Design process based on the question or challenge that caused all this distress, confusion and the sensation of being stuck, that we risk designing elaborate solutions and going through sometimes radical life changes only to find ourselves some months later with exactly the same feeling, that something just isn’t right?

So what if we forget our burning question or challenge for a while when we enter our Life Design journey and allow the question or the challenge to come up later, after tuning in and re-connecting with ourselves?

What if, in Life Designing, it is not about starting out with a good question but rather about letting the “right” question emerge?

The “right” question, from a life designer’s perspective, is the question that allows you to step out of the tunnel of limiting believes and perspectives and guides you towards fresh, creative ideas and limitless opportunities.

The “right” question is the question that almost instantly ignites the spark of curiosity, motivation and optimism that you already thought you’d lost.

Some years back when my sabbatical came to an end and it was time to re-enter the job market I came up with a very good and very specific question: How could I get a job with the United Nations or an international non-profit?

I was completely obsessed with this one question which was based on the fact that pursuing a career within international organisations would be something that totally made sense considering my previous international work experience and my wish to work in international development. And of course, it would look great on my CV.

It was a really good question and I explored countless prototypes for it. From networking to volunteer assignments to letters of recommendations, you name it. But nothing seemed to work. Or maybe it did work, quite perfectly. Only I didn't see it back then.

With my mind so fixed on this one burning question I overlooked the initial and crucial step in Life Designing, which was asking myself profoundly and honestly if this really was what I wanted.

If this was a career path that was aligned with my life essentials and my work essentials.Or if this was simply a career path that made sense and would look really good on paper.

And suddenly it hit me.

My burning question, my challenge, was based on exactly the same way of thinking that had led me to my dilemma, feeling unfulfilled and unconnected with my professional choices. It was based on “what made sense” instead of what truly felt right.

After going through my own process of “Empathizing” after exploring what is truly essential to me in my life and in my work, after exploring what are my strengths and my motivation suddenly the right question emerged:

“How do I create a job that is in alignment with all that is essential to me, professionally and in my personal life?”

And there it was, my re-defined Life Design challenge.

The “right” question to ask myself.

The moment I placed this re-defined challenge at the center of my design process, ideas started to flow, my motivation and joy skyrocketed and suddenly I saw countless new opportunities and great ways to prototype and explore what truly felt right.