This is a post about my personal experiencs from reading Designing Your Life – How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life by William Burnett and Dave Evans.
This has been a very difficult post to write. It’s been brewing in my head for months by now. This book review had been very hard to write because this book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnette and Dave Evans, has so profoundly and permanently changed me.
What this Book is About
In a nutshell, this book is a simple and easy-to-use tool that’s been developed by two Stanford University product design experts that can be used for building a well lived, joyful life. They believe to live a fulfilling life, one must chart, create, and DESIGN their own path to it. This book teaches you exactly how to do that based on methods they’ve seen success in developing great products. A few key concepts in the book include CURIOSITY, BIAS TO ACTION, REFRAMING, and RADICAL COLLABORATION. Together, these 4 points make up the whole suite of tools you need for life design.
You ever learn or read about something that is so life-changing and mind-blowing that you physically need a moment of silence to let things sink in? Well, my reading Designing Your Life was such an experience and the last few weeks was my sinking-in period.
How Much I LOVED This Book
In fact, I love this book so much, this past Christmas season I gave out 6 copies of it as gifts. In addition, I was able to personally attend a 2-day workshop (a version designed for women only; there are others that aren’t focused on women) in San Diego in early February. It was an incredibly rewarding experience where I met a lot of like-minded professional women. Together, we experienced the collective power of brainstorming, learning from each other’s life experiences and mistakes, seeing things from drastically different perspectives (called “Reframing”). There were so many light-bulbs going off Eureka moments interlaced with the emotional relief of truly believing “we can” as women.
Who Designing Your Life is WRITTEN FOR:
- People who have passion projects but don’t know how to take it beyond a hobby
- People who feel lost in their career or life
- People who need to make decisions as a transition point or critical juncture
- People who have been wildly successful in their career but are wondering “what is it all for?”
- People who believe in their self-worth but are struggling to realize it
- People who have different forces in their life pulling in opposite directions (family vs. career, salary vs. ethics, hobbies vs. income, etc)
What Designing Your Life is NOT or does NOT:
- It does not provide solutions readily available for your particular problems. YOU have to find your solution using the guides and tools laid out in the book.
- It is NOT a spiritually or religiously based book. But the process of applying the techniques and principles might feel so transformative that the experience is likened to adopting a new religion.
- It’s not a fad method or a trendy technique (think Bullet Journaling or the Pomodoro technique). It’s simply the adaptation of product design principles re-applied for life designing.
How to prepare BEFORE YOU START READING Designing Your Life:
- Be ready to start writing down your thoughts because you will have a lot. Also, the book asks you to be writing through different exercises. (Typing counts, too.) Do the exercises like the authors asked you to. In this process, something magical happens. What’s even more magical is after you’ve put it away for 3-6 months and come back and revisit what you wrote. Whether things changed or did not change, you have just learned something about yourself.
- Have an accountability partner. Better yet, a group of accountability partners. This is something the authors of the book recommended in the book as well, albeit for different reasons. I’ll let you find out what those reasons are. But we are all social animals, and the in-my-head-only idea takes on a different level of meaning and impact when you let someone else have a stake in it. An accountability partner can be a good friend, a family member, a mentor, or someone who you share some common goals with. If you struggle to find an accountability partner, you could also consider joining one of the Designing Your Life workshops offered in various places in the US a few times a year. And on that topic…
What to Expect from the Designing Your Life WORKSHOP:
The two-day workshop is taught by product design professionals who have lived and breathed the DYL design principles in their own life and career. They fly out of Silicon Valley to teach each of the workshops personally. The workshop does come with a fee of $799-950 but it includes a Designing Your Life workbook, two breakfasts and a lunch and multiple refreshments throughout the 2 days. Most importantly, the network of professionals that you meet and get to know over the weekend is so invaluable. To give you a sense of the incredible suite of professionals I met, there were at least4 career/life coaches, 6 business owners/entrepreneurs, and 5 female executives, and 3 other people just like me – recently transitioned into a different phase of a career.
What’s even more incredible is that this is a group of people who see the deficiency in the tools that our society teaches us to evaluate success & create success. They are seeking something better, more experience-based, proven, and immediately implementable. In this workshop, we found it all together.
OK, this is the part where I pause, and acknowledge my word choice above kind of sounds a bit fu-fu and almost quasi-religious. As reluctant as I am to admit it, there is something that is close to a religious, “finding God” kind of feeling. But it’s a lot simpler and WAY more tangible. So if you can relate to the above analogy, great! If not, forget I wrote it.
What SURPRISED me from what I learned in the workshop:
- How much positive psychology & behavioral economics compliment life design thinking. I’ve been an avid reader in both topics so I am very familiar with a lot of the famous theories, models, and phenomenon’s based on social psychology findings. So, in a way, it is no wonder Designing Your Life just clicked in my head right away – I was already bought into a lot of the theories that the authors based their teachings on.
- The promise of the corporate ladder is an illusion to more people that I thought.
- The distance between thinking and doing is short. Yet, it is what stops most people from steering their life in the direction they want.
- I have more power and are in more control of my life, therefore career, than I realized.
What Are You Waiting For?
Pick up the book here today, and start where you are! And let me know if you’d like me to be your accountability partner to implement the learnings and methods to set your life on the right path!
If you’re interested in attending on in 2018, see their remaining workshops in the Bay Area, San Diego, and New York.
Disclaimer: I was given a $200 scholarship to attend the workshop, and I offered to write a blog about the workshop in return. The instructors replied that the scholarship had no strings attached and that I should only write a blog if I wanted to and found the workshop impactful. Needless to say, it’s more than just impactful so I had to blog about it!!
Now the Giveaway
As usual, I have one copy to gift a lucky reader if you enter to win in the next week. Between today (2/27) and Tuesday 3/6, comment in this blog post about what area of your life you want/need design help!