Hello! I’m Clarice

a brand designer & watercolour artist from Toronto, Ontario. 

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How to Design a Life by Debbie Millman

I’ve always been a fan of Debbie Millman’s, Design Matters podcast. So when my husband told me that one of his favourite podcasters, Tim Ferriss, interviewed her on his podcast, I had to listen to it.

Who is Debbie Millman, you ask?


Debbie Millman is a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant and host of the radio show Design Matters (Taken straight from her website). She’s also the chief marketing officer for Sterling Brands. She is responsible for the redesigns of over 200 global brands, including Pepsi and Kraft. And more. The “more” I found out when I listened to her interview on the Tim Ferris podcast. It humanized her even more and I instantly felt an immense sense of respect and love for her – as a person and a desinger. Amazing what showing our vulnerable sides can do for self-image, eh. Takes guts, I’ll tell you that.

If you are interested in listening to her interview, here it is. How to Design a Life – Debbie Millman

My Thoughts

I found the interview, How to Design Your Life by Debbie Millman absolutely raw and inspirational. I now see Debbie Millman with new eyes and my respect level is elevated to an all time high. She has lots of good wisdom and lessons to share. Here is a breakdown of what really stood out to me. Make special note of “the 10 year plan” at the very bottom.

How to design a life by Debbie Millman

  1. Rejection – Don’t accept the first rejection – ever! Give yourself options. If you are rejected for something you want, then think about what caused the rejection and work on making that better. Most of the time we are rejecting ourselves (Deep right? and true). Consider what the perception from the person doing the rejection might be. Most of the times what we see as “rejections” are more of a “not right now”.
  2. Decision – What is the most important thing for you? If it is the one most important thing to you, you will do whatever it takes to get it done. Debbie’s was living in Manhattan and she did, in deplorable conditions, but that was her most important thing. When I first graduated, the most important thing to me was security. Fast-forward 10 years from graducation, that is not the most important thing for me anymore. An important realization for me.
  3. Serve – Find a cause that is personal to you and use your skill to make a difference and help. Debbie is involved with and proud of the Joyful Heart Foundation. Started by Mariska Hargitay who played Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The Joyful Heart Foundation vision is a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. I love that, as this is also a topic that I feel strongly about.

    I am involved with Mukti Village that raises funds and awareness to educate and rescue children out of the red light distrcit in India. It is good to give back – you can read more about that in my previous post.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. This is crucial in life. We cannot function by ourselves. The first man that rejected Debbie Millman turned out to be good friend, till date. Listen to the podcast for the full story.
  5. Dream big. Without fear. – Where do you picture yourself in 10 years – 2027? Write this day. What does your whole day look like. From the time you brush your teeth till you go to bed. Write it all down. Read it once every year. Write it down.

10 Year Plan for a Remarkable Life

Write this one day ten years from now. It is Winter 2027.
So one day in the winter of 2027, what does your whole day look like? Start from the minute you wake up, brush your teeth, have your coffee or tea, all the way through until the minute you tuck yourself in at night. What is that day like for you?

What does your life look like?
What are you doing?
Where are you living?
Who are you living with?
Do you have pets?
What kind of house are you in?
Is it an apartment are you in the city are you in the country?
What does your furniture look like?
What is your bed like? What are your sheets like?
What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of hair do you have?
Tell me about your pets, tell me about your significant other, do you have children?
Do you have a car? Do you have a boat?
Talk about your career?
What do you want?
What are you reading?
What are you making?
What excites you?
What is your health like?

Dream big, dream without any fear. Write it all down. You don’t have to share it with anyone other than yourself. Put your whole heart into it. Write like there is no tomorrow; write like your life depends on it because it does. And then read it, once a year, and see what happens.

I took the liberty of putting all the questions on a sheet. You can download them here.

Will you do this fun exercise?

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