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Page One – Describe Your Perfect Job: After reviewing all of what you learned about yourself (Interests, Values and Skills, Birkman® & other assessments you have taken to date), describe what you believe could be “your perfect job.” Then support your belief by comparing it to your unique personality and leadership make-up.  
Page Two – Assess A Real Posting Of Your Perfect Job: Search the Internet for the perfect job – a job perfectly suitable to your unique make-up. (Copy and paste the actual job posting into an appendix – see below). Describe what the job is, and why you think that job is suitable for you. 
Page Three – Customize A Cover Letter: Draft a customized one-page cover letter so that it aligns closely with the employer, as you learned about in Chapter 7 of Designing Your Life. 
Page Four – Customize A Resume: Draft a customized one-page resume so that it aligns closely with the employer, as you learned about in Chapter 7 of Designing Your Life. 
Appendix – The Posting Of Your Perfect Job: Copy and paste into your document the actual job posting of your perfect job (see #2 above). NOTE: If the job posting is in .pdf format, you may be able to copy and paste the text, OR you may be able to save the file and then insert it like a picture into your WORD document. This Is a Borzoi Book Published by Alfred A. Knopf

Copyright © 2016 by William Burnett and David J. Evans

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin
Random House LLC, New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada,

a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, Toronto.

www. aaknopf. com

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random
House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Burnett, William (Consulting professor of design), author. | Evans, David J.,
author.

Title: Designing your life : how to build a well-lived, joyful life / William Burnett and David
J. Evans.

Description: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016008862 | ISBN 9781101875322 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781101875339
(ebook) | ISBN 9780451494085 (open market)

Subjects: LCSH: Vocational guidance. | Self-realization. | Design—Social aspects. |
Decision making.

Classification: LCC HF5381 .B7785 2016 | DDC 650.1—dc23

LC record available at https:// lccn. loc. gov/ 20160 08862

Cover design by Oliver Munday

Ebook ISBN 9781101875339

v4.1

a

http://www.aaknopf.com/

https://lccn.loc.gov/2016008862

To all of the wonderful students who have shared their stories and

lives with us and whose openness and willing engagement have

taught us more about life design than we ever could have imagined.

To my wife, Cynthia, who told me to take the job at Stanford; I love

you and wouldn’t be the person I am without you.

–Bill Burnett

To my dear wife, Claudia, the true literary force in our house, who

refused to let me not write this book and has tirelessly reminded me

why. Your love has redeemed me again and again.

–Dave Evans

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Introduction: Life by Design

1. Start Where You Are

2. Building a Compass

3. Wayfinding

4. Getting Unstuck

5. Design Your Lives

6. Prototyping

7. How Not to Get a Job

8. Designing Your Dream Job

9. Choosing Happiness

10. Failure Immunity

11. Building a Team

Conclusion: A Well-Designed Life

file:///C:/temp/calibre_rvdxhf/ifnkk3_pdf_out/OEBPS/Burn_9781101875339_epub3_cvi_r1.xhtml

Acknowledgments

Notes

Introduction: Life by Design

Ellen liked rocks. She liked collecting them, sorting them, and categorizing

them according to size and shape, or type and color. Aer two years at a

prestigious university, the time came for Ellen to declare her major. She had

no idea what she wanted to do with her life or who she wanted to be when

she grew up, but it was time to choose. Geology seemed like the best decision

at the time. Aer all, she really, really liked rocks.

Ellen’s mother and father were proud of their daughter, the geology major, a

future geologist. When Ellen graduated, she moved back home with her parents.

She began babysitting and dog walking to make a little money. Her parents

were confused. This is what she had done in high school. They had just paid

for an expensive college education. When was their daughter going to turn

magically into a geologist? When was she going to begin her career? This is

what she had studied for. This is what she was supposed to do.

The thing is—Ellen had realized she didn’t want to be a geologist. She

wasn’t all that interested in spending her time studying the earth’s processes,

or materials, or history. She wasn’t interested in fieldwork, or in working for a

natural-resource company or an environmental agency. She didn’t like

mapping or generating reports. She had chosen geology by default, because

she had liked rocks, and now Ellen, diploma in hand, frustrated parents in

her ear, had absolutely no idea how to get a job and what she should do with

the rest of her life.

If it was true, as everyone had told her, that her college years were the best

four years of her life, Ellen had nowhere to go but down. She did not realize

that she was hardly alone in not wanting to work in the field in which she

had majored. In fact, in the United States, only 27 percent of college grads

end up in a career related to their majors. The idea that what you major in is

what you will do for the rest of your life, and that college represents the best

years of your life (before a life of hard work and boredom), are two of what we

call dysfunctional beliefs—the myths that prevent so many people from

designing the life they want.

Dysfunctional Belief: Your degree determines your career.

Reframe: Three-quarters of all college grads don’t end up working in a

career related to their majors.

By her mid-thirties, Janine was really starting to reap the benefits of

decades of dedication. She’d jumped on the fast track early and had managed

to stay there. She was a graduate of a top college and a top law school, had

joined a firm that did important and influential work, and was on her way to

really “making it.” College, law school, marriage, career—everything in her life

had turned out exactly as she had planned, and her willpower and hard work

had given her everything she wanted. She was the picture of success and

achievement.

But Janine had a secret.

Some nights, aer driving home from the law firm that bore one of the

most recognizable names in Silicon Valley, she would sit out on the deck as

the lights of the valley came on, and cry. She had everything she thought she

should have, everything that she thought she wanted, but she was profoundly

unhappy. She knew she should be ecstatic with the life she had created, but

she wasn’t. Not even close.

Janine imagined that there was something wrong with her. Who wakes up

every morning the picture of success, and goes to bed every night with a knot

in her stomach, feeling as if there’s something missing, something that got

lost along the way? Where do you turn when you have everything and

nothing all at the same time? Like Ellen, Janine held a dysfunctional belief.

She believed that if she rode all the merry-go-rounds and grabbed for all the

brass rings she would find happiness. Janine is also not alone. In America,

two-thirds of workers are unhappy with their jobs. And 15 percent actually

hate their work.

Dysfunctional Belief: If you are successful, you will be happy.

Reframe: True happiness comes from designing a life that works for you.

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. His retirement funds had been carefully invested. He had a

solid career and a solid life. Get up, go to work, pay the bills, go home, go to

bed. Wake up the next day and do it all again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

For years Donald had been asking the same question over and over. He

carried this 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 the

question. But always it would return. For close to a decade, the question had

woken him up at 2:00 a.m. and stood with him in front of the bathroom

mirror—“Why the hell am I doing this?”

Not once had the guy looking back at him in the mirror ever had a good

answer. Donald’s dysfunctional belief was related to Janine’s, but he’d held on

to it for much longer—a life of responsible and successful work should make

him happy. It should be enough? But Donald had another dysfunctional

belief: that he couldn’t stop doing what he’d always done. If only the guy in

the mirror could have told him that he was not alone, and he did not have to

do what he had always done. In the United States alone, more than thirty-one

million people between ages forty-four and seventy want what is oen called

an “encore” career—work that combines personal meaning, continued

income, and social impact. Some of those thirty-one million have found their

encore careers, and many others have no idea where to begin, and fear it’s too

late in life to make a big change.

Dysfunctional Belief: It’s too late.

Reframe: It’s never too late to design a life you love.

Three people. Three big problems.

Designers Love Problems

Look around you. Look at your office or home, the chair you are sitting on,

the tablet or smartphone you may be holding. Everything that surrounds us

was designed by someone. And every design started with a problem. The

problem of not being able to listen to a lot of music without carrying around

a suitcase of CDs is the reason why you can listen to three thousand songs on

a one-inch square object clipped to your shirt. It’s only because of a problem

that your phone fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, or that your laptop

gets five hours of battery life, or that your alarm clock plays the sound of

chirping birds. Now, the annoying sound of an alarm clock may not seem

like a big problem in the grand scheme of things, but it was problem enough

for those who didn’t want to start each day with the harsh beeping of a

typical alarm clock. Problems are why you have running water and insulation

in your home. Plumbing was created because of a problem. Toothbrushes

were invented because of a problem. Chairs were created because someone,

somewhere, wanted to solve a big problem: sitting on rocks causes sore

bottoms.

There’s a difference between design problems and engineering problems.

We both have engineering degrees, and engineering is a good approach to

solving a problem when you can get a great deal of data and you’re sure there

is one best solution. Bill worked on the problem of engineering the hinges

on Apple’s first laptops, and the solution he and his team came up with made

those laptops some of the most reliable on the market. The solution required

many prototypes and lots and lots of testing, similar to the design process,

but the goal of creating hinges that would last five years (or opening and

closing ten thousand times) was fixed, and his team tested many different

mechanical solutions until they met their goal. Once this goal was met, the

solution could be reproduced millions of times. It was a good engineering

problem.

Compare this with the problem of designing the first laptop that had a

“built-in mouse.” Because Apple’s computers relied on the mouse to do

almost everything, building a laptop that required you to be wired up to a

regular mouse was unacceptable. This was a design problem. There was no

precedent to design toward, there was no fixed or predetermined outcome;

there were plenty of ideas floating around the lab, and a number of different

designs were tested, but nothing was working. Then along came an engineer

named Jon Krakower. Jon had been tinkering around with miniaturized

trackballs, and had the crazy idea to push the keyboard to the back of the

unit, leaving just enough room to squeeze in this tiny pointing device. This

turned out to be the big breakthrough everyone had been looking for, and

has been part of the signature look of Apple laptops ever since.1

Aesthetics, or the way things look, is another obvious example of a

problem with no one right solution that designers work on. For instance,

there are a lot of high-performance sports cars in the world, and they all

evoke a sense of speed, but a Porsche doesn’t look anything like a Ferrari.

Both are expertly engineered, both contain almost identical parts, but each

has a completely different aesthetic appeal. The designers at each company

take exquisite care with every curve and line, every headlight and grille, but

they make very different decisions. Each company works in its own way—a

Ferrari has an unmistakably passionate Italian look, and a Porsche a fast,

exacting German sensibility. Designers study aesthetics for years in order to

make these industrial products the equivalent of moving sculpture. That’s

why, in some ways, aesthetics is the ultimate design problem. Aesthetics

involves human emotion—and we’ve discovered that when emotions are

involved, design thinking has proved to be the best problem-solving tool.

When we were faced with the problem of helping our students leave college

and enter the world as productive and happy people—to figure out just what

the hell to do with the life in front of them—we knew design thinking would

be the best way to solve this particular problem. Designing your life doesn’t

involve a clear goal, like creating hinges that last five years, or building a

giant bridge that will safely connect to landmasses; those are engineering

problems, in which you can get hard data on your options and engineer the

one best solution.

When you have a desired outcome (a truly portable laptop computer, a

sexy-looking sports car, or a well-designed life) but no clear solution in sight,

that’s when you brainstorm, try crazy stuff, improvise, and keep “building

your way forward” until you come up with something that works. You know

it when you see it, whether it’s the harmonious lines of a Ferrari or the ultra-

portable MacBook Air. A great design comes together in a way that can’t be

solved with equations and spreadsheets and data analysis. It has a look and

feel all of its own—a beautiful aesthetic that speaks to you.

Your well-designed life will have a look and a feel all of its own as well, and

design thinking will help you solve your own life design problems.

Everything that makes our daily living easier, more productive, more

enjoyable, and more pleasurable was created because of a problem, and

because some designer or team of designers somewhere out there in the world

sought to solve that problem. The spaces we live in, work in, and play in were

all designed to make our life, work, and play better. No matter where we look

in our external world, we can see what happens when designers tackle

problems.

We can see the benefits of design thinking.

And you’re going to see the benefits of design thinking in your own life.

Design doesn’t just work for creating cool stuff like computers and Ferraris; it

works in creating a cool life. You can use design thinking to create a life that

is meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling. It doesn’t matter who you are or were,

what you do or did for a living, how young or how old you are—you can use

the same thinking that created the most amazing technology, products, and

spaces to design your career and your life. A well-designed life is a life that is

generative—it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is always

the possibility of surprise. You get out of it more than you put in. There is a lot

more than “lather, rinse, repeat” in a well-designed life.

How Do We Know?

It all started with a lunch.

Actually, it all started when we were both undergrads at Stanford University

in the 1970s (Dave a little earlier in the decade than Bill). Bill discovered the

product-design major and an exciting career trajectory to go with it. As a

child, he used to draw cars and airplanes while sitting under his

grandmother’s sewing machine, and when he majored in product design, it

was because he had discovered (much to his surprise) that there were people

in the world who did this kind of thing every day, and they were called

designers. As the executive director of the Design Program at Stanford, Bill is

still drawing and building things (he’s come out from under the sewing

machine), directing the undergraduate and graduate programs in design, and

teaching at the d.school (The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design—a

multidisciplinary hub of innovation at Stanford where all the classes are

based on the design thinking process). Bill has also worked in start-ups and

Fortune 100 companies, including seven years at Apple, designing award-

winning laptops (and those hinges) and a number of years in the toy

industry, designing Star Wars action figures.

Bill knows how lucky he was to have discovered product design and a

joyful and fulfilling career path so early. In our teaching careers, we’ve both

come to see how rare that is, and just how oen it doesn’t work that way for

students, even at Stanford.

Unlike Bill, when Dave was an undergrad, he had no idea what he was

going to do. He failed at being a biology major (more on that later) and

graduated in mechanical engineering—frankly, for lack of a better idea.

During college, he never found good help with the question “How do I figure

out what I want to do with my life?” He managed to figure it out eventually,

“the hard way,” and has enjoyed more than thirty years in executive

leadership and management consulting in high technology. He product-

managed the first mouse and early laser-printing projects at Apple, was a co-

founder of Electronic Arts, and has helped lots of young start-up founders

find their way. Aer a pretty rough start, his career developed wonderfully—

but he always knew that it had been a lot harder than it needed to be.

Even though we both went off to start careers and families, we continued

to keep a hand in working with students. Bill was at Stanford, where he

watched as hundreds of students came through his office hours and struggled

with figuring out life aer graduation. Dave was teaching at UC Berkeley,

where he had developed a course called How to Find Your Vocation (aka: Is

Your Calling Calling?), which he taught fourteen times over eight years. Still,

he longed to do more at Stanford. Along the way, he and Bill had intersected

time and again, in business and personally. Dave had heard that Bill had just

accepted the position of executive director of the Stanford Program in

Design, a program Dave knew well. It occurred to Dave that the

multidisciplinary demands of being a designer were likely to put design

students under an unusually heavy burden: trying to find a way to conceive a

personally meaningful and authentic, as well as commercially viable, career

vision. He decided to call up Bill and have lunch and share some of his ideas

—just to see what might happen. If it went well, maybe they’d have more

lunches on the topic, and in perhaps a year or so something might come of

it.

And that’s why it all began at lunch.

Five minutes into that lunch, it was a done deal. We decided we were going

to partner to bring a new course to Stanford, to apply design thinking to

designing life aer college—first to design students and, if that went well, then

to all students.

That course has gone on to become one of the most popular elective classes

at Stanford.

When asked what we do at Stanford, we will sometimes respond with our

carefully craed elevator reply: “We teach courses at Stanford that help any

student to apply the innovation principles of design thinking to the wicked

problem of designing your life at and aer university.” And, of course, they

then say, “Great! What’s that mean?”

And we usually say, “We teach how to use design to figure out what you

want to be when you grow up.” At that point almost everyone says, “Oh! Can I

take the class?!” For years we’ve had to say no to that question, at least to

everyone who didn’t happen to be one of the sixteen thousand students at

Stanford. That is finally no longer the case. We’ve been offering Designing

Your Life workshops to everyone (www. desig ningyour. life), and we’ve written

this book so that you don’t have to go to Stanford to have a well-designed life.

But you do have to be willing to ask yourself some questions. Some hard

questions.

Blog Home Page

Designers Also Love Questions

Just as Donald faced the mirror every night and asked himself, “Why the hell

am I doing this?,” everyone struggles with similar questions about life, about

work, and about his or her meaning and purpose in the world.

• How do I find a job that I like or maybe even love?

• How do I build a career that will make me a good living?

• How do I balance my career with my family?

• How can I make a difference in the world?

• How can I be thin, sexy, and fabulously rich?

We can help you answer all these questions—except the last one.

We have all been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This

is the fundamental question of life—whether we are fieen or fiy. Designers

love questions, but what they really love is reframing questions.

Reframing is one of the most important mind-sets of a designer. Many

great innovations get started in a reframe. In design thinking we always say,

“Don’t start with the problem, start with the people, start with empathy.”

Once we have empathy for the people who will be using our products, we

define our point of view, brainstorm, and start prototyping to discover what

we don’t yet know about the problem. This typically results in a reframe,

sometimes also called a pivot. A reframe is when we take new information

about the problem, restate our point of view, and start thinking and

prototyping again. You start out thinking you are designing a product (a new

coffee blend and new kind of coffee machine) and reframe when you realize

you are actually redesigning the coffee experience (Starbucks). Or, in an

attempt to make an impact on poverty, you stop lending money to the

wealthy class in a country (as the World Bank does) and start lending money

to people considered too poor to pay it back (micro-lending and the Grameen

Bank). Or the team at Apple comes up with the iPad, a complete reframe of

what the portable computing experience is about.

In life design, we reframe a lot. The biggest reframe is that your life can’t

be perfectly planned, that there isn’t just one solution to your life, and that

that’s a good thing. There are many designs for your life, all filled with hope

for the kind of creative and unfolding reality that makes life worth living

into. Your life is not a thing, it’s an experience; the fun comes from designing

and enjoying the experience.

The reframe for the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

is this: “Who or what do you want to grow into?” Life is all about growth and

change. It’s not static. It’s not about some destination. It’s not about

answering the question once and for all and then it’s all done. Nobody really

knows what he or she wants to be. Even those who checked a box for doctor,

lawyer, or engineer. These are just vague directions on a life path. There are so

many questions that persist at every step of the way. What people need is a

process—a design process—for figuring out what they want, whom they want

to grow into, and how to create a life they love.

Welcome to Life Design

Life design is the way forward. It’s what will help Ellen move from her college

major to her first job. It’s what will help Janine move from the life she should

have into the life she wants. It’s what will help Donald find the answer to the

questions that keep him up at night. Designers imagine things that don’t yet

exist, and then they build them, and then the world changes. You can do this

in your own life. You can imagine a career and a life that don’t exist; you can

build that future you, and as a result your life will change. If your life is pretty

perfect as is, life design can still help you make it an even better version of

the life you currently love living.

When you think like a designer, when you are willing to ask the questions,

when you realize that life is always about designing something that has never

existed before, then your life can sparkle in a way that you could never have

imagined. That is, if you like sparkles. It’s your design, aer all.

What Do We Know?

In Stanford’s Design Program, we have taught more than a thousand students

design thinking and how to design their lives. And we’ll let you in on a secret

—no one has ever failed our class. In fact, it’s impossible to flunk. We have

more than sixty years of combined teaching experience, and we have taught

this approach to high school students, college students, graduate students,

Ph.D. students, twenty-somethings, mid-career executives, and retirees

wanting an “encore” career.

As teachers, we have always guaranteed our students “office hours for life.”

This means that if you take a class from us we are there for you, forever.

Period. We’ve had students come back to us over the years since they’ve

graduated, and they’ve told us how the tools, ideas, and mind-sets that we

teach have made a difference for them. We’re quite hopeful—and, frankly,

pretty confident—that these ideas can make a difference for you, too.

But don’t take our word for it. Stanford is a very rigorous place. Though

anecdotes are nice, they don’t count for much in academia. To speak

authoritatively, you need data. Our class is one of the few design thinking

classes that have been scientifically studied and have proved to make a

difference for students on a number of important measures. Two doctoral

students did their dissertations on the course, and what they found was pretty

exciting.2 They found that those who took our class were better able to

conceive of and pursue a career they really wanted; they had fewer

dysfunctional beliefs (those pesky ideas that hold you back and that just

aren’t true) and an increased ability to generate new ideas for their life design

(increasing their ideation capability). All of these measures were “statistically

significant,” which, in non-geek-speak, means that the ideas and exercises we

lay out in our course and are going to walk you through in this book have

been proven effective; they can help you to figure out what you want and

show you how to get it.

But let’s be perfectly clear right from the start. Science or no science, this is

all highly personal stuff. We can give you some tools, some ideas, some

exercises, but we can’t figure it all out for you. We can’t give you your

insights, change your perspective, and provide you with nonstop “aha”

moments, all in ten easy steps. What we can tell you is that if you actually use

the tools and do the life design exercises, you will generate the insights you

need to have. Because here’s the big truth: there are many versions of you,

and they are all “right.” And life design will help you live into whatever

version of you is now playing at the Cineplex. Remember, there are no wrong

answers, and we’re not grading you. We will suggest you do some exercises in

this book, but there are no answers in the back to tell you how you did. We’ve

added a recap of the exercises at the end of each chapter that has them—a Try

Stuff box—because we suggest that you, well, try stuff. That’s what designers

do. We’re not measuring you against anyone, and you shouldn’t measure

yourself against anyone, either. We’re here to co-create with you. Think of us

as part of your own personal design team.

In fact, we suggest you go out and get a design team right off the bat—a

group of people who will read the book with you and do the exercises

alongside you, a collaborative team in which you support one another in your

pursuit of a well-designed life. We’ll talk about this more later in the book,

and by all means you should feel free to read it on your own first. Many

people think that designers are lone geniuses, working in solitude and

waiting for a flash of inspiration to show them the solution to their design

problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be some

problems, such as the design of a stool or a new set of children’s blocks, that

are simple enough to be tackled by an individual, but in today’s highly

technical world, almost every problem requires a design team. Design

thinking takes this idea even further and suggests that the best results come

from radical collaboration. Radical collaboration works on the principle that

people with very different backgrounds will bring their idiosyncratic

technical and human experiences to the team. This increases the chance that

the team will have empathy for those who will use what they are designing,

and that the collision of different backgrounds will generate truly unique

solutions.

This is proved over and over again in d.school classes at Stanford, where

graduate students create teams of business, law, engineering, education, and

medical students that come up with breakthrough innovations all the time.

The glue that holds these teams together is design thinking, the human-

centered approach to design that takes advantage of their different

backgrounds to spur collaboration and creativity. Typically, none of the

students have any design background when they enroll in …

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