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Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life Hardcover – September 20, 2016
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
“Life has questions. They have answers…Learn how to find a fulfilling career…learn how to better navigate life’s big moment decisions and kill your ‘wicked problems dead.”
—The New York Times
“The prototype for a happy life…Burnett and Evans show how to apply Stanford’s famous design principles to finding your place in the world, as a recent graduate or mid-career.”
—NPR’s Brian Lehrer
“Designing Your Life walks readers through the process of building a satisfying, meaningful life by approaching the challenge the way a designer would. Experimentation. Wayfinding. Prototyping. Constant iteration. You should read the book. Everyone else will.”
—Daniel Pink, bestselling author of Drive
“This [is] the career book of the next decade and . . . the go-to book that is read as a rite of passage whenever someone is ready to create a life they love.”
—David Kelley, Founder of IDEO
“An empowering book based on their popular class of the same name at Stanford University . . . Perhaps the book’s most important lesson is that the only failure is settling for a life that makes one unhappy. With useful fact-finding exercises, an empathetic tone, and sensible advice, this book will easily earn a place among career-finding classics.”
About the Author
BILL BURNETT is the executive director of the Design Program at Stanford.
DAVE EVANS is an adjunct lecturer in the Product Design Program at Stanford, a management consultant, and a co-founder of Electronic Arts
Top customer reviews
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I spent an immense amount of time in my life in my late 20s reflecting, researching, reading, and stressing about what I wanted to do with my life. I wish I had had this book then. It provides a well-reasoned, systematic, eminently practical, but joyful approach to navigating the (ever-evolving) question of what you want to do with your life, testing and pursuing your hypotheses, and living into the paths you pursue. It's also an interesting read, and taught me a lot about design thinking and even some practical tidbits about behavioral science!
(Note that this book has little to do with the concept of "Lifestyle Design" in the Tim Ferriss sense, which involves imagining your dream life - typically one with some sort of dubious passive income stream and frequent travel to low cost-of-living countries. I have mixed feelings about that whole school of thought. This book is just about applying design thinking to the question of what you want to do with your life.)
If you're one of those rare people who's 100% at peace with the question of how to chart your course in life, enjoy your good fortune! To everyone else, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Buy it.
Chapter 1. Start Where You Are
The authors advise readers to accept what you can't change, avoiding so-called "gravity problems," which, by their very nature, cannot be changed.
Chapter 2. Building a Compass
This chapter discusses one's Workview (the reason one works) and Lifeview (areas that give life meaning), and encourage readers to align the two to form a Life Compass.
Chapter 3. Wayfinding
The book defines Wayfinding as figuring out where to go when the destination is not known. The authors emphasize engagement and energy in finding one's way in work and in life.
Chapter 4. Getting Unstuck
In this chapter, the book reviews the use of Mind Maps to generate new ideas.
Chapter 5. Design Your Lives
The book encourages readers to develop (at least) 3 potential "Lives" and assess them.
Chapter 6. Prototyping
In this chapter, the authors encourage testing the potential lives through informational interviews and other techniques to try out the lives in a non-committal way.
Chapter 7. How Not to Get a Job
Chapter 8. Designing Your Dream Job
Chapters 7 and 8 were disappointing, offering obvious advice such as, "pursue as many job offers as you can," and showed little knowledge or awareness of the today's job search process.
Chapter 9. Choosing Happiness
The chapter encourages people to embracing the choices we make, rather than agonizing over them. It especially recommends paying attention to the Basal Ganglia (the ancient base brain) to monitor personal feelings toward potential choices.
Chapter 10. Failure Immunity
The authors recommend learning from one's mistakes, to become "immune" to the sadness of failure.
Chapter 11. Building a Team
Here, the authors encourage the reader to engage others toward one's life path.
Overall, I found the book interesting with useful elements.
The book would be improved by removing chapters 7 and 8, and in their place, adding more examples of people going through life designs and the challenges facing them, especially those wishing to change careers. Recommended for people interested in applying design thinking toward career development.