Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Designing Your Life BOOK CLUB

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.  Knopf. 274 pages. 2016

My wife Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book this summer. I first heard about it from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This week we look at the Introduction of the book:

  • In the United States, only 27% of college grads end up in a career related to their majors. The idea that what you major in is what you will do for the rest of your life, and that college represents the best years of your life (before a life of hard work and boredom), are two of what we call dysfunctional beliefs—the myths that prevent so many people from designing the life they want.
  • In America, two-thirds of workers are unhappy with their jobs. And 15 percent actually hate their work.
  • In the United States alone, more than thirty-one million people between ages forty-four and seventy want what is often called an “encore” career—work that combines personal meaning, continued income, and social impact.
  • Your well-designed life will have a look and a feel all of its own as well, and design thinking will help you solve your own life design problems.
  • A well-designed life is a life that is generative—it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is always the possibility of surprise.
  • We decided we were going to partner to bring a new course to Stanford, to apply design thinking to designing life after college—first to design students and, if that went well, then to all students. That course has gone on to become one of the most popular elective classes at Stanford.
  • How do I find a job that I like or maybe even love?  How do I build a career that will make me a good living?  How do I balance my career with my family?  How can I make a difference in the world?  How can I be thin, sexy, and fabulously rich? We can help you answer all these questions—except the last one.
  • Designers love questions, but what they really love is reframing questions.
  • A reframe is when we take new information about the problem, restate our point of view, and start thinking and prototyping again.
  • In life design, we reframe a lot. The biggest reframe is that your life can’t be perfectly planned, that there isn’t just one solution to your life, and that that’s a good thing.
  • The reframe for the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is this: “Who or what do you want to grow into?”
  • When you think like a designer, when you are willing to ask the questions, when you realize that life is always about designing something that has never existed before, then your life can sparkle in a way that you could never have imagined.
  • Here’s the big truth: there are many versions of you, and they are all “right.”
  • We suggest you go out and get a design team right off the bat—a group of people who will read the book with you and do the exercises alongside you, a collaborative team in which you support one another in your pursuit of a well-designed life.
  • Designers don’t think their way forward. Designers build their way forward.
  • Work can be a daily source of enormous joy and meaning, or it can be an endless grind and waste of hours spent trying to white-knuckle our way through the misery of it all until the weekend comes.
  • The five mind-sets you are going to learn in order to design your life are curiosity, bias to action, reframing, awareness, and radical collaboration.  Most of all, curiosity is going to help you “get good at being lucky.” It’s the reason some people see opportunities everywhere.
  • Try Stuff. When you have a bias to action, you are committed to building your way forward.
  • Reframing is how designers get unstuck. Reframing also makes sure that we are working on the right problem.
  • When you learn to think like a designer you learn to be aware of the process. Life design is a journey; let go of the end goal and focus on the process and see what happens next.
  • 80 percent of people of all ages don’t really know what they are passionate about.
  • Passion is the result of a good life design, not the cause.
  • A well-designed life is a life that makes sense. It’s a life in which who you are, what you believe, and what you do all line up together.