Designing my life with “Designing Your Life”

bookcover Designing Your Life

At True Taste Tokyo we are all about helping creators share their products and passion with the world so in addition to local stories we will share our favorite productivity tools, tips and resources. To kick things off, Terri one of our content creators shares her review of a popular life hacking book, ‘Designing Your Life’.

‘Designing Your Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans is well worth checking out.

Publisher’s summary from “…The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life..”

I collect self-help books, podcasts, articles, youtube videos, on and on…I get a burst of hope with each one. It’s almost as if I’ve done the work just by reading the book or watching the video. Sadly, that’s not the case.

With typical self-help products, I get about 1/3 of the way through and stop. Too busy living my life to actually design it. It’s also irritating that the advice tends to focus on 20-30 somethings, which I most certainly am not.

Then I heard about ‘Designing Your Life’.

Authors, Stanford professors, and Apple alumnae Bill Burnett and Dave Evans offer a practical framework for this self-help junkie.  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of designing a thing or a process. I admire the forethought, experience, and magic needed to create a well-built problem-solving thing.

Then I read through the reviews (4.46 out of 5!) and used my 1 Audible credit to get it. I started listening, and I was hooked.

The authors narrate the book, and they clearly trust their method – their experience shines through in their voices. Their instructions are simple, compelling and doable.

Dashboards and directions for designing your life.

So now I’m doing it.

I started out using their Dashboard tool to help clarify the answer to: “How’s it going?”. The Dashboard helps me to see where I need to address imbalances – and celebrate the areas of my life that are going well. I’m using their Lifeview and Workview tools to Build My Compass. This helps me answer the question: what gives my life meaning? I’ve been reluctant to put the answer into words. But the authors’ approach is pragmatic and powerful. Their view of living a coherent life sounds true to me. So, I’m taking the time to give this part the attention it needs.

Wayfinder - your compass for choosing a direction -- photo cc from Flickr by Colin Zhu
Wayfinder – your compass for choosing a direction — photo cc from Flickr by Colin Zhu

I’ll work with the Wayfinding section next. A smart colleague suggested to me once that, to move my career forward, I could look for a direction rather than a destination. Wayfinding helps us to define the clues for finding that direction.

Rather than giving up on it, I’m actually looking forward to working with the rest of the book, with chapters on:

  • Getting Unstuck
  • Design Your Lives
  • Prototyping
  • How Not to Get a Job
  • Designing Your Dream Job
  • Choosing Happiness
  • Failure Immunity
  • Building a Team
  • Conclusion: A Well-Designed Life

Each chapter ends with well-designed exercises. They do require deep thought and preparation. This is a process, not a prescription.

Additional ‘Designing Your Life’ resources.

There are more resources available on their site: including PDFs of the worksheets in the book (English and Dutch) , and questions readymade for Designing Your Life study groups. The site also has video conversations, articles and more.

A note about the book format – I love audiobooks, and the authors’ voices are good for the material they’ve written. I have the Kindle version too. I’ll listen, then read through a chapter and answer the questions in my Notes app. For the mind map, I’m using – gasp! – a big sheet of paper from a pad I got at Costco. It covers most of the floor of my tiny apartment. It’s quite fun to work on actual paper, with colored pencils and magic markers.

All in all, if you’re feeling stuck, or you need help making plans for 2017, I highly recommend ‘Designing Your Life’.