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The Trail Mix Method

The Trail Mix Method, developed by Dalia Katan, is a personal growth framework that combines mindfulness, emotional intelligence, positive psychology, and neuroscience. Inspired by her own experience during a trip to Patagonia, where she found that trail mix provided her with sustained energy and nourishment to conquer her goal. From this experience, she developed the Trail Mix Method.


This method guides individuals through transformative experiences and exercises to help them discover their passions, values, and purpose, while empowering them to embrace their authentic selves, overcome obstacles, and create a fulfilling life aligned with their true desires. 

The Brief

Translate the Trail Mix Method from an analog journaling tool to a digital tool, creating an interface for setting goals for the week and adjusting them based on areas of flow or friction

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Project Type

Client Based Project

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Time Frame

3 Week Project Sprint

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Lead UX Designer

Team of 4 Individuals

Click below to skip all the good stuff and go directly to the High Fidelity Design: 

"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal"

~Albert Einstein

Discovery & Research

For our discovery and research phase, my team and I conducted 16 user interviews and then worked together to synthesize the research into a working user persona, and some How May We Statements to drive our project. I personally conducted 4/16 User Interviews

Key Insights

What motivates you to complete self-care rituals that you know are good for you, but you may not feel like doing?

"Praise is a good way to motivate me"

Image by garrett parker

16 User Interviews

In the past, what has made a planning tool valuable enough to pay for?

"Integration into my already existing ecosystem."

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What tools or methods have you used to plan your free time?

"I go off of enjoyment or pleasure, rather than priority."

Image by Andrew Svk

What does self-care mean to you?

"For me, self-care includes rituals that I enjoy."

Image by Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt

Problem Statement:

People need to be able to optimize their free time in order to pursue personal goals and find fulfillment in their lives.

With our user research gathered we came up with a Hypothetical Archetype based off a combination of traits from our interviewees; the behaviors they displayed, goals they talked about, and frustrations they showed. A User Persona allows us as designers a way to Empathize with our target audience and a way to base our decisions about design, on research rather than opinions or assumptions. 

Imagine you are Emily:

Emily is a driven and ambitious marketing manager in her mid thirties. She is passionate about her career and has set specific goals to advance professionally. However, she has been feeling overwhelmed lately and realizes the importance of finding a balance between work and personal life. Emily practices mindfulness and understands the value of self-care to maintain her well-being. She strives to achieve her personal goals while still enjoying her free time and pursuing her hobbies and interests.

Emily has been working tirelessly on a major marketing campaign for her company. While she is dedicated to her work, she has recently noticed that she has been neglecting her personal goals and not finding enough time for herself. She wants to strike a better balance between working towards her professional aspirations and enjoying her free time without feeling guilty or overwhelmed.

Development & Design

With our research synthesis and user persona driving our next steps we started working on the development and design of a solution for our client and for our persona Emily.


The head of UI and I worked together, starting the process by looking at the features and attributes from the following competitors.. 


An AI led health and wellness app that you can interact with on a daily basis to track your overall moods and trends. 

Atomic Habits

A book that teaches you how to add new healthy habits into your already existing daily routines with habit stacking methods and rewarding yourself. 


Duo Lingo

An app designed to help you learn a new language by breaking lessons down into manageable time frames, and encourages you to practice daily.


This is a task oriented app that uses minimal UI and time boxing methods to help keep people on track to complete their daily tasks.





Bullet Journal

This journaling method encourages you to journal on a daily basis and helps you visually track your progress towards the goals you create.

Apple Watch

One of my user interviews mentioned the Apple Watch, which inspired me to it add to our research. I loved the idea of how it seamlessly integrates into peoples daily lives reminding them to keep moving with small nudges and how it celebrates their success each day.

User Flow & Sketching

We decided to create a user flow for a mobile application, because we wanted something that would have the best chance of integrating with our Persona Emily’s already existing processes of working on goals and keeping herself organized. She uses the calendar system almost religiously. 


So with the thought in mind that our persona Emily has already used our app and has set up her weekly intentions and daily trail mix tasks, our initial user flow started with a notification on her phone that she has some upcoming free time since it is integrated with her calendar. She opens the app, receives an encouraging message about the progress of her tasks or projects, and is asked if she wants to use the full amount of her free time, is asked what mood she is in so the AI could better choose which goal to work toward. Below are a few of my personal ideation sketches.

After a lot of ideation and getting some feedback from our client on initial user flows and sketching, we took a step back and revisited the original methodology of the Trail Mix Method.

We decided to simplify as much as possible, and separated our app into two separate user flows, while still trying to maintain the actual methodology of using the Trail Mix Method to help Emily accomplish her personal aspirations, without overwhelming her with information and graphics.

Current Rendering

With our usability testing feedback we made the appropriate shifts to our hi-fi prototype rendering, and below is a walkthrough of the hi-fi prototype of the Trail Mix Method app.  

Current Rendering

Final Thoughts

Seeing the app come to life was a rewarding experience. As the lead UX designer, I felt a sense of accomplishment in knowing that our creation would empower individuals like Emily to embrace their authentic selves, overcome obstacles, and create a fulfilling life aligned with their true desires.


We hope that someday, the Trail Mix Method app can became a digital companion for individuals seeking balance and personal growth. I feel grateful to have played a role in translating Dalia Katan's transformative framework into a digital tool that could positively impact the lives of many. And as our team celebrated the completion of our project, we knew that we had contributed to the journey of personal growth and fulfillment for our users, one goal at a time.

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