Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

2. Building a Compass

  • The activity here is to write down your Work-View and Your Life-View. They suggest about 250 words each or less than one page. The Work-View should focus on what work is for, why you do it, what makes work good, and how it impacts others. Your Life-View is your ideas about the world and how it works, what gives life meaning, what makes it worthwhile, and what makes it satisfying.
  • With that done it’s time to see if there is coherence between the two. Ask where your view on work and life compliment each other and where the clash. Does one drive the other? These two views create your compass as they will help you know if you are on course. When they are aligned they give you your True North, which you can follow.

3. Wayfinding

  • Wayfinding is the ancient art of figuring out where you are going when you don’t know your destination. This requires that you pay attention to the clues in front of you. The first two are engagement and energy. Engagement comes at various strengths. Flow is when you are so engaged that it’s almost euphoric. This is where work seems like play. As for energy, some activities sustain it and some drain it. Boredom, for example, is a big energy suck. It’s important to be aware of when your engagement and energy are up and down.
  • The reason is that the next exercise is to create your Good Time Journal. This is where you log your daily activities with notations regarding engagement and energy. Every week take time to reflect on which activities are engaging and energizing and which are not. The AEIOU method is one you can use to help. A stands for the Activities you are doing. E is for Environments where your activities take place. I is for Interaction as in the people you were interacting with. O are the Objects you were interacting with. U is for Users who are the other people who were there and the roles the played.
  • Your past is waiting to be mined for insights too. Try to remember your peak experiences from your past even if they took place a long time ago. The other key piece of advice is to get good at what you don’t like to do. This will allow you to do it quickly and efficiently. If you are bad at these things you may find that you have to do them over.

4. Getting Unstuck

  • The key point in this chapter is to ideate, ideate, ideate. This is a fancy word for coming up with a lot of ideas quantity has a quality all its own. Many people make the mistake of chasing their first idea, which usually isn’t the best idea. They tend to be pretty average and not too creative. The trick is to suspend judgment until you get lots of ideas out. The techniques of mind mapping are demonstrated. This is where you take a topic and write five or six things that are related on a big piece of paper. You then draw three or four lines from each and use free association to generate words associated with the original words. You then repeat this process until you have at least three kinds of word associations. Then stand back and highlight the words that seem interesting and see if you can mash them together into a few concepts.
  • Next we encounter anchor problems. Like a physical anchor, they hold us in one place and prevent motion. It happens when you get anchored to a solution that won’t work. This is where sticking to a bad first idea comes in. It’s key to recognize when you are dealing with an anchor problem so you can work to reframe it. An anchor problem isn’t a gravity problem, it’s just a real problem that is hard. Gravity problems aren’t problems, they are circumstances. Now it’s time to take items out of each section of the good time journal you created in chapter 3 and submit them to the mind mapping exercise described here.
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