Designing Your Life (Bill Burnett, Dave Evans)

In Designing Your Life, authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans — educators in Stanford University’s Design Program — show us how “design thinking” can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who we are, what we do for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and a life of fulfillment and joy, a life that is constantly creative and productive.

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Look around your office or home, or glance down at the tablet or smartphone you may be holding. Everything in our lives was designed by someone. And every design starts with a problem that a designer or team seeks to solve.

In this book, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, educators in Stanford University’s Design Program, show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who we are, what we do for a living, or how young or old we are.

The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and a life of fulfillment and joy, a life that is constantly creative and productive.

 

Show notes

In this episode, you’ll learn...

  • How to think like a designer to create a life you love

  • Why design problems — like your life — have no precedent to design toward; you’re not iterating on a product that’s already been made. There is no fixed or predetermined outcome. There are lots of ideas and therefore lots of possible routes to different outcomes.

  • That a well-designed life is a life that is generative — it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, there is always the possibility of surprise.

  • How to reframe questions and problems. A reframe is when we take new information about the problem, restate our POV, and start thinking and prototyping again.

  • How to think with the 5 mindsets of a designer:

    • Curiosity — invites exploration and makes everything play

    • Bias to action — try stuff! Prototype, fail, find what works, embrace change, until they find the solution

    • Reframing — how designers get unstuck. Makes sure you are working on the right problem - step back, examine biases, open new solution spaces

    • Awareness — know it’s a process! Amazing stuff arises from the mess, and its part of it

    • Radical Collaboration — it takes a team.  How to ask for help, ideas, and the right questions to ask

  • How to take the Life Design Assessment to figure out where you’re starting from in 4 categories: health, work, play, love (read how to do this below in the Bookmarked Activity section!)

  • How to “build your compass” to figure out what it means to you to live a good life. Write out your:

    • Workview (what is work work for, why do you do it, what makes good work good?)

    • Lifeview (what gives life meaning, what make your life worthwhile and valuable, how does it relate to your family/community/world? What do money, fame, and personal accomplishment have to do with it? How important are experience, growth, and fulfillment?)

  • Which clues to pay attention to — engagement and energy, using the Good Time Journal — to make your best way forward in designing your life with the tools you have at hand (see the Bookmarked Activities section below for more)

  • How to get unstuck using mind-mapping, by staying aware of anchor problems and gravity problems, and my mapping out several life plans for you to consider and test out

  • How to use prototyping to fail fast, fail forward, and iterate on your ideas for potential life plans

  • How life design interviews enable you to prototype by gaining an understanding of someone’s story and experience by talking to someone doing or living what you’re contemplating

  • How to reframe networking as just “asking for directions”

  • The 5 steps of the Life Design Choosing Process:

    • Gather and create options

    • Narrow down your list

    • Choose discerningly

    • LET GO of unnecessary options and MOVE ON, embracing your choice fully so we can get the most from it

  • How to reframe and learn from your failures

  • How to involve others in your life design process so you have a team who will brainstorm with you, problem-solve with you, and support you as you create a life you love


Bookmarked activity

Your Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard

Imagine each category in your life as a tank. Simply ask, “How’s it going?” to reflect on how full your life feels in each category. This helps you figure out where you’re starting from in your Life Design Process. Check out Designing Your Life’s Dashboard Worksheet for this activity.


Your Good Time Journal

List out activities and tasks you do throughout the day, and for each one mark how energized it makes you feel and how engaged you felt while doing it — and if you experience a state of flow.  These are important clues for discovering activities you might want to build on as you design a life you love. Feel free to download Designing Your Life’s Good Time Journal Activity Log here.


Other Worksheets from Designing Your Life

Share your takeaways

If you’ve read this book, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know if you’ve tried the dashboard or the journal or had any aha moments by emailing us at hello@booksmartpodcast.com. You can also leave us a voicemail at 929-515-BOOK (2665).

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Emily Hammel-ShaverEP 05