Designing Your Life — Bill Burnett & Dave Evans — The Stanford Guide to Happiness

Donald had made his money.

He had worked for more than thirty years at the same job. His home was almost paid off. His children had all graduated from college.

He had a solid career and a solid life.

Get up, go to work, pay the bills, go home, go to bed.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

For years Donald had been asking the same question over and over He carried his question with him to coffee shops, to the dinner table, to church, and even into his local bar, where a few fingers of Scotch would quiet his question.

But always it would return.

For close to a decade, the question had woken him up at 2:00am and stood with him in front of the bathroom mirror —

“Why the hell am I doing this?”

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans is all about banishing dysfunctional beliefs and replacing them with a reframed perspective of reality.

Donald believed that it was too late for him to change what he was doing.

The truth?

It is never too late to design a life you love.

Written in part by an actual designer (Bill Burnett is the executive director of the Design Program at Stanford), the book teaches a method for finding/creating purpose using the mentality of a good designer.

The entire concept revolves around 5 mindsets:

  1. Curiosity — Be curious! This makes everything new, it invites exploration and it is the reason that some people see opportunities everywhere
  2. Bias to Action — Try stuff! Build your way forward. Stop sitting on the bench and thinking of what you are going to do —(just) do it! Designers (which is what you are should you take the making of your life into your own hands) try things. They test and prototype. They fail and they solve.
  3. Reframing — Reframe problems. When you are stuck, reframe the problem come at it from a different angle. Reframing is essential for a designer, what others deem impossible, a designer can unpackage and tackle.
  4. Awareness — Know it’s a process. Life design is a journey (it takes your whole life, go figure). Let go of the end goal and focus on the process and see what happens.
  5. Radical Collaboration — Ask for help! Perhaps the most striking aspect of this book is the incessant encouragement to just ask!! You are not alone. Your life is more like a great design than a work of art — you cannot create it alone. Reach out, ask, build relationships, find vulnerability.

Overall, it is an insightful book that provokes (and guides you through answering) potent questions. Questions that lead to change — whether of perspective or a more tangible nature.

Written by

Non Aesthetic Van Lifer:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store