ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



March 2018



Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: Anyone at a bit of a crossroads in life, trying to figure out their next career move.

In a nutshell: The creators of the Designing Your Life workshops and program at Stanford offer their tips and process for figuring out options for your career, using design as the basis.

Worth quoting:
“If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem”
“There is no one idea for your life. There are many lives you could live happily and productively (no matter how many years old you are).”

Why I chose it:
I’m in a new country with no job and some time to figure things out. The hardcover version of this book caught my eye multiple times, although I hesitated to buy it. I probably should have stuck with my instincts.

This is not a bad book. There is a lot of good advice in it, and I think that it may very well work. I’m just not sure that I have what is necessary to really implement their suggestions. And by “what is necessary,” I mean energy. Because there is a lot to do here. And it makes sense — we’re talking about figuring out career options that are actually feasible, and that’s a big part of life for many people. But at one point when they give an example of success in sorting things out coming after TWO HUNDRED conversations with individuals.

I just — even without a job, how on earth am I going to connect with two hundred people? I just … no.

That said, there are some good take-aways, like exercises to help you sort out what matters to you in life and in work, and how to think about how your career aligns with your values. The authors are also clear that there is no one right answer for any of us; the point of designing our lives is to come up with ideas, options, and possible paths and then test them out a bit before jumping in completely.

I jammed through the first few chapters then felt myself just sort of stuck. I don’t know if I’m lazy (unlikely), or realistic about what will work with me (possible), or what, but this just wasn’t the right book for me.

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