How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life by Designing your Life


There is dysfunctional belief that “If you are successful you will be happy” however “True happiness comes from designing a life that works for you.” This is the basis of the new book “Designing your life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. It is an excellent read and here is my review. 

Just look at everything all around us including the smartphones we all have. It is all due to breakthrough design. Great designers have great questions they ask like

  • How do I find a job that I like?
  • How do I build a career that will make a good living?
  • How do I balance my career with my family?
  • How can I make a difference in the world?

These are great questions that can help us design our lives. The crux of the book is around the five mind-sets that are required to design your life. Here they are with my take

Be curious – Curiosity is the hall mark of a truly great designer. Only if you are curious about your surroundings you can come up with innovative solutions. Think of how the iPod came about it was because there was a discontent with the status quo.
Try Stuff – There is no way you can design your life without taking some action against your ideas. All successful people have what some call as bias for action. It is better take action on one idea than have 100 ideas for which no action is taken. Just like it was mentioned in the book “The Lean Startup” you should have a minimum viable product which you should test before releasing final version.

Reframe Problems – Most of us have heard the term learned helplessness. However to overcome it successful people always re-frame the problem in such a way that it turns out positive. This is the key to finding real problems and the resulting solutions.
Know it is a process – Design by nature is a messy process which involves great thinking resulting in a lot of failed experiments. However great designers don’t worry about the outcome instead they invest in the process to make it better.
Ask for help – Just think of the iPod there was no way Steve Jobs could have done it alone. It requires a team to create anything extraordinary. It requires a lot of team effort and collaboration. Engage in brainstorming and get the most out of your team.

Some of the other things I liked in the book were

Start where you are –
You cannot go anywhere without understanding where you are currently. The authors discuss key ideas on health, work, play and love.
Build your compass – Here the authors’ advice that you should connect between three things which are who you are, what you believe and what you are doing.

Way Finding – This is the ancient art of finding where you are going when you don’t know your destination. Here there is a mention about the flow concept which basically involves the following

  • Experiencing complete involvement in the activity.
  • Feeling euphoria
  • Having a great clarity
  • Being totally calm and at peace
  • Time stands still

Getting Unstuck – Here the idea of a mind map is provided. Mind mapping involves identifying the activities in circles and then having spokes with activities against each circle. It is a great creative way to brain storm.

There are chapters on how to make your job hunt more effective and failure immunity. There is a three step exercise provided for any failures you encounter.

·       Log your failures – Write down what you have messed up.

·       Categorize your failures – Categorize them as Screw-ups which are simple mistakes that you normally get right, Weaknesses are failures that you make over and over, and growth opportunities are the failures that didn’t have to happen.

·       Identify growth insights – What is the learning here. This is your opportunity to improve yourself and ensure the failure doesn’t happen again.

There is a chapter on building a team. The basic thesis is you live and design your life in collaboration with others.

Overall it is an excellent read with some great food for thought.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.

 

 

 

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