As summer break rolls into fall semester, I’d like to share something that has been a crucial part of the success I’ve seen in my internship at Northwestern Mutual. It’s something that helped me tremendously in realizing my potential as an intern, student, and human.
Since day one, we’d been hearing about and developing our personal design statements for the internship; which, by the way, was incredible--ask me about it. Not only did I have no clue what design statements were, I was completely skeptical about the idea. Write a couple paragraphs, read it twice a day, and it’ll all come true? Come on. These higher ups and exceptionally successful businessmen preached it like their life depended on it, but how effective and directly correlated to their success was it, actually?
As the summer progressed, however, my skepticism turned into growth and habits turned into results. After my experience with attaching a design statement to my everyday routine, I can confidently say it made a significant difference in my life.
What It Is
Okay, so a design statement isn't just throwing a couple paragraphs on a piece of paper. It's a thoughtful, detailed description of what/how you see yourself in the future. In fact, it should be written in past-tense and first-person, as if your future self wrote it looking back in time. It needs to be detailed, number-specific, time-specific, and why and how you will achieve the goals you set out for yourself. It is impossible to get something for nothing, so ask yourself what you’re willing to do/sacrifice in order to achieve these goals. I like to think of it as writing a formula to get to where I want to be. It doesn’t matter how you define your own success; whether it be in school, work, personal life, or if you’re like me, all the above. I’d be happy to share my own design statement for the internship or the upcoming one I’ll be writing for the fall semester, feel free to ask!
Don’t be afraid to think big-- if the desire is there, trust yourself that you’ll find a way to make it happen. Anything is possible if you’re willing to work for it. Here is a step-by-step guide as to how to craft your own design statement:
Step 1: Fix your mind on the exact number of what you’re wanting (eg: amount of money, a certain grade/GPA, etc)
Step 2: State what you’ll give in return (eg: work/study x hours per week)
Step 3: Give yourself a date on which you intend to possess/achieve your goals
Step 4: Create a plan that you can start immediately
Step 5: Read this clear and concise statement aloud twice daily (when you wake up and before you sleep). As you read, see and feel yourself having already accomplished everything you’ve written.
Why It Works
Habits lead to success. The more you envision yourself already in that position, the greater your belief will be toward your success. From reading your design statement twice a day, you’re consistently reminding yourself why and how you’ll be achieving the goals you set out for yourself. For me, it’s a reminder and refreshment of the desire I have to obtain these goals. Behind all effective design statements are true desire and goals that are of high importance. Not only that, design statements provide a plan, a guideline, a checklist as to how goals are to be achieved. Having your goals written down is essential to success.
Ultimately, it all points to identifying purpose.
What It Does
A design statement helps the mind be forward-thinking, and take action in order to make your vision of success a reality-- what you do today creates your future. Again, it leads to the importance of having purpose. Once you know why you’re doing something, your actions become exponentially more meaningful. This TED Talk really opened my eyes as to how important this concept is in achieving any type of goal.
While having a long-term vision, it also outlines check boxes for everyday success in regards to how goals are obtained. For example, a successful day could include going to class, studying for an hour, or simply eating well and staying hydrated. I’ve found that it is much easier to ensure 2 or 3 things are consistently completed throughout my day, rather than focus on 10 things all at once. As we all know, college life can be pretty overwhelming. Many of us tend to be perfectionists, but not enough of us give ourselves credit where credit is deserved. My design statement helped me to identify a few things I must accomplish daily, and if I’m able to check those off, then that day can officially be a success.
My hope is that everyone you reads this can write down some goals for the next 3-6 months, and outline how to work toward them. If not every day, read it periodically (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). This way, progress can be tracked and updates/changes to habits made accordingly. Nothing works better than self-accountability-- by non-negotiably reading a design statement and acting upon the plan, the hard work and efforts will make success that much sweeter in the end.