Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Design Your Way to a Better Life

Dave Evans and Bill Burnett have written a terrific new book titled, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.  Evans and Burnett discuss how people are often encouraged to find their passion and pursue that vocation in their life.  They point out that it can be very difficult to discover one's passion simply by sitting in a dorm room or apartment dreaming up potential visions of the future.  Introspection and reflection alone do not allow for this discovery to occur.  

What's the alternative mechanism for discovering what you want to do in your life?  They argue that individuals should apply the principles of design thinking.  They should prototype and experiment early and often.  They should try a variety of things, expose themselves to different domains, pursuits, and professions.  Then they should reflect on these experiences and consider what makes them happy, what motivates and inspires them, and what they consider rewarding.   Moreover, individuals should consider the circumstances in which they feel intellectually challenged and highly engaged.  

How does one experiment and prototype?  They take internships in different industries or companies, shadow someone in a particular profession, work on course projects in different domains, network with people in various roles, volunteer in various organizations, etc.   In short, they design different ways to test whether they, in fact, are passionate about a particular job, role, industry, etc.  

1 comment:

Elaine Seat said...

Good old analytic thinking has a habit of getting in the way of Design Thinking. Analytic thinking says: I like to play my guitar, thus I should be a musician.

Design Thinking says, Humm, what is it about guitar playing and music that I like? Wow! I am just as engaged working a puzzle as pickin'! Maybe programming would work for me also!

I had a mentor that helped me learn that I truly loved taking things apart and making new things. Although I started working on things around my parent's house, I ended up designing precision machine tools that made complex components.

As a John Deere Co-op student, I worked in the foundry, on the production line, in the tool room, and all through engineering and purchasing. I learned from these many small experiences that I had a good day when I was solving someone's puzzle, and I didn't care what the context was. There was joy in solving a problem.

So if you can use Design Thinking to get out of a context and get to the heart of what makes your day pass happily, life is good.

Try a lot of things...fail at some...soar at others...and don't let the context cloud what you really love.