How to be a designer of your life: tips from Bill Burnett, Stanford Design Program Manager and Apple Veteran
When Bill Burnett, together with fellow professor Dave Evans, created the Designing Your Life course for Stanford students, all he wanted was for young people and girls to be able to apply the principles of design thinking to create after graduating that life, which they want for themselves.
After 10 years, the book “Design of Your Life” was translated into 26 languages, published by hundreds of thousands of copies and is a bestseller. At Stanford itself, the Design of Your Life course is the most popular among electives, and at least two scientists made doctoral dissertations for themselves, checking how the method works. (Verdict: everything works .)
I recently talked to Bill as part of a DYL certification program. The result was such a story, a set of covenants and stories about how you can look at changes in life, if you think like a designer. Coming from the first person:
Do not fall for a dichotomy, such as a “balance between work and personal life . ” In fact, there is no work-life balance. You are separate from your work, and you are separate from your personal life. When a person can distance himself from thinking “either this or this,” he will have the opportunity to objectively look at things and change something in his life.
Each person has many lives. You can live several different lives without worrying about her being alone. You can be an entrepreneur, artist, professor, designer and farmer - all within the framework of a single biological timeline. At the moment when we understand that we have a choice how to live this or that segment of life, we discard a bunch of socially conditioned beliefs and lower our anxiety for our future.
If you set up your system of goals and metrics based on your own values that are not imposed from outside, then you start making decisions that are not the most trivial. I know one graduate of Stanford Business School who, instead of working at a hated job after graduating from university, optimized his expenses so that he could live in Silicon Valley for $ 1,500 a month [about how to live on $ 400 in Moscow] and do what he really likes. This is one of the happiest guys I know.
University is an extremely outdated place. I remember that we used design thinking to redesign education at Stanford and proposed the concept of a university of the future to management. They praised the project and were surprised at the prospects, until they realized that one of the conditions was that the leadership should not have the opportunity to weed out applicants. After they realized this, the project was quietly curtailed and put on a shelf.
People often postpone the solution of precisely those tasks that are most important to them. I know a lot of people who dream of going to Stanford or Harvard to change their career path that they hate and do something else. But if you think about it, you can come to the campus, go to a lecture on the subject that interests you and understand whether this profession is for you at all or not. Why spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to understand that you will never enjoy law or business?
I knew a lady who wanted to quit her job and open her own coffee shop. She saved up enough money, invested a couple of years and a ton of effort into creating the cafe of her dreams. She managed to open such a cool institution that it instantly became super-popular, people came there from other areas. Moreover, she herself was absolutely unhappy: the idea of having a cafe was perfect, but the daily routine with waiters, suppliers, accounting and all that turned out to be exactly what she liked the least in life. If she knew that important decisions in life could be prototyped, then she would be able to avoid this painful disappointment.
Prototyping is the most important thing in a career change. Moreover, the prototype can be as simple as pulling out a person on coffee who is already doing something that you are potentially interested in.
It’s better to look for joy, not happiness. Joy is a state of involvement and fullness of energy. Our task is to celebrate what makes us feel the state of the flow and what fills us with energy, and try to make life build around it.
Video : Bill Burnett talks more about the technique on TEDx. There are Russian subtitles.