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Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  13,121 ratings  ·  1,219 reviews
Whether we’re 20, 40, 60 or older, many of us are still looking for an answer to that perennial question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ In Designing Your Life, Silicon Valley design innovators Bill Burnett and Dave Evans use their expertise to help you work out what you want – and how to get it.

Their phenomenally successful Life Design course has been tried an
...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published May 5th 2016)
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Popular Answered Questions
Kathryn Scott yes I think so. You may find that if you read the book and compete the exercises that there is a way to get into the field you want in a different way…moreyes I think so. You may find that if you read the book and compete the exercises that there is a way to get into the field you want in a different way. (less)
Greg It isn't so much a reworking as it is a great companion. Using these two books together would make a really great combination for people looking to de…moreIt isn't so much a reworking as it is a great companion. Using these two books together would make a really great combination for people looking to determine what to do with their life. That said, if I had to choose only one book to guide my next career or life decisions, I'd choose "Designing Your Life". (less)

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James
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I actually thought this was going to be more about life rather than focusing on just work. Dschool and DT apologists will insist that this stuff can be applied to life too, but that's a farking load of steaming hot BS. It's about work. Full stop.

And, sure, okay, the method in the book probably works for that...or at least a fairly narrow sub-set of highly skilled and highly valued workers in large urban areas. People who are basically on track for a good career no matter what. For people who a)
...more
D
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Try Stuff

Health/Work/Play/Love dashboard

1. Write a few sentences about how it's going in each of the 4 areas
2. Mark where you are (0 to Full)
3. Ask yourself if there's a design problem you'd like to tackle
4. Now ask yourself if it's a problem of 'gravity' (not one that's gonna change).

Counsel vs Advice
Someone helps you figure out what you think vs telling you what to do

Integrity -

Coherence among
- Who you are
- What you believe
- What you are doing.

Good Time Journal

1. Complete a log of daily activ
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Kim
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The concept behind this book was great - applying Design Thinking to designing your own life. But The actual content was fairly light, fairly uninstructive, and, to be frank, quite unaware of its own privilege. To apply the concepts in this book, you have to have the financial and personal capacity to put the ideas into action. The issue that the book displays no awareness of this fact.
Savannah Peterson
What an excellent read! This is going to be my "Christmas of 2016" gift for friends and family. There's the reframe of a dysfunctional belief or Life Design tip for everyone inside. It's especially timely for the recent grad, the restless mid-career professional, or the encore passion seeker ready for a change.

Admittedly, I've been a Design Thinker for awhile, so the concepts here were not too foreign to me, but the application of them for my personal life very much was. Curiosity and prototypi
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Alexis
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Job Hunters
While this book offered helpful advice, I found by the end that it was difficult to read and complete the activities. As someone who works with designers (and lives with one), I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief and accept the idealized vision of designers and design thinking in this book. I don't know any designers who are as put together as this book makes it sound like they are, nor do I know any designers who actively use all the steps of "design thinking". I also found the business ...more
Christina Helen Birch
This book is excellent at *what it does*, which is providing a framework for thinking and working through major career changes. Even though I'm not looking for a new job, I found plenty of useful exercises to sink my teeth into, allowing me to imagine my way forward into new approaches within the job I do have.

So why only three stars? Poor expectation management: It's not entirely clear from the title or the blurb that this book is exclusively about designing your career, and when I started read
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Max Nova
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had been diligent enough to write down my mental models of the world and publish them in book form. Luckily, in "Designing Your Life", Burnett and Evans have already done all the hard work for me! The nuggets-to-fluff ratio is pretty high and they hit most of the high points. This is required reading for all college students.

The key idea of the book is that you have lots of dysfunctional mental models that are holding you back. Here are the key takeaways:

* Forget your "passion". You hav
...more
Gaylord Dold
Jan 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only two Stanford academics could sell the
idea that one designs a life the way one designs
a car. Life surprises, daunts, accepts gratefully
and surrenders grudgingly--mostly those things
that people strive toward. Sometimes there are
surprises, by-ways, tunnels and dead-ends we
deal with on a case-by-case basis. Mostly, our
character is fate, as Nietzsche said. I guess it was
the fate of Stanford to hire life designers and to
let their classes become popular. The rest of us
just have to muddle through s
...more
Leah
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provided good advice on how to design/build/frame your life.
Brings up potential set backs and what to do about them.
What you want to do, what you should do, what you've always wanted to do, what you've always wondered to do, which to choose?
This book helps focus in on what's most important to you and what will actually work.
I picked up this book and put it down so many times but I've finally finished it lol
...more
Melinda
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Hearing a story about this book on NPR motivated me to purchase Designing Your Life: How to Think Like a Designer and Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. In all, I am pleased to have purchased and read this book. First, it gave me a different lens by which to view my life. Second, it allowed me to look at my youngest child and see how she is a natural born designer, and increased my desire to nurture her approach to life. The book is to-the-point and easy to read, combing ideas with real life stori ...more
Andy
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing new in terms of basic wisdom. Thus the plus value here could be that it is based on a college course, so maybe it's good for young people like Stanford students, except that I don't know that Jacques Cousteau, for example, is especially of the moment. ...more
Brandice
Designing Your Life offers some useful tips in regard to making changes. While it can apply to other areas, the majority of the book focused on career applications which is practical, since the majority of us tend to spend most of our time at work. There was useful information throughout the book that I think can apply to most people seeking some type of change - small or drastic, but I personally didn't think the tips were groundbreaking or crazy game changers. Just ways to reframe some of the ...more
Allison
While I can come up with a few groups who might not benefit from this book, I would think in general most would take away something to help them in their approach to life. The authors provide helpful anecdotes, exercises, and insight to guide the reader on the path of living intentionally.

As a Christian, I understandably found the lack of spirituality and reliance on self didn't fully align with my worldview. However, this book is a framework, and I think with thoughtfulness can be used by peopl
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E. H. Nathasia
I was excited to read this book as I have hope that it will give me a step-by-step guidance on how to design the life I want.

Yes, it did give me that.

But I find that the explanation leans more towards mechanical process and how to, to an extent that it lacks the warmth of story-telling that I love. They do share examples of experiences and stories of other people related to the topic of discussion but for me, the stories didn't stick.

However, let me share a few interesting notes in the book that
...more
Jeanny
Jul 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book counts towards my literary genius JULY book challenge Read 6 non-fiction books this year. Book 1 of 6 (audible version)

I don’t know why authors choose to release audio versions of their books but fail to hire professional narrators. I’ve yet to listen to a book in which the author read his/her own work & I thought the performance couldn’t have been improved upon. This was an especially bad decision for this book. The authors are university professors & their performance (imo) felt lik
...more
Yazaid Ahmed
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most amazing books I have ever read

I give it 5 stars because the concepts and ideas in it are so powerful and positive. Majority of them aligned perfectly well with even my faith.

There are concepts and ideas that when you learn will make life interesting to you just by knowing that there are actually people who think a certain way or have a certain point of view on the same things that once seemed daunting for you which will make the same things exciting for you.

I was so excited and h
...more
Becky
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: but-i-own-it
Timely and helpful to me. Will revisit some of these exercises again!
Shreyans Goenka
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I approached this book with a healthy dose of skepticism, reserved for all books in the 'self-help' genre. I was curious to give this book a try as it was based on a very popular Stanford course. True to its reviews, this is quite an exceptional book. Though, none of the ideas written here are particularly revolutionary, they are just written in such a approachable, easy, and convincing manner you can't help but be engaged. I already see myself thinking differently about my future and life choic ...more
Elaine
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty helpful read in terms of reviewing some overarching concepts on life direction and providing actionable exercises. Coincidentally, the coach I am currently working with already has taken me through a few of the exercises, but I do see value in completing all of them and would encourage others to do so. Some of the big picture ideas are fairly obvious, but the book is useful in talking through the 'why' and providing reinforcement behind the reasoning. ...more
Margaret Lozano
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a bit like a mind map - there are tons of creative ideas, but it isn’t organized into a coherent whole. It’s helpful for brainstorming your “life design”, but it also feels like a jumble of random blog entries.
Anita
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While swiftly walking through my neighborhood with a couple friends, talking and hopping from topic to topic like we were speed dating with a three minute limit, I mentioned thoughts of heading back out into the world of the employed; however, with no planned direction, which is when this book was recommended by one of the friends.

The co-authors, who have extensive technical backgrounds, morphed from corporate work to collaborating material for the popular Design Program at Stanford to a brand t
...more
Lily
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, how-to
This book explores how mindsets and strategies used in design can be extended to life in general, and careers in particular. I found this book to be worth reading, at least for the concrete advice on how to evaluate different aspects of your life, and how to analyze your levels of engagement/energy (or lack thereof) in specific activities. This exercise can reveal patterns that are helpful to keep in mind as you consider the next steps in your career. It’s especially helpful if you’re the kind o ...more
Juvoni
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, e-book
I found Designing Your Life, to focus more on designing one's career, with patterns that could be applicable to one's personal life. The book teaches you how to think more like a designer with an emphasis on prototyping and iteration. The core mind-sets to learn are curiosity, bias to action, reframing, awareness and radical collaboration. The exercises were helpful in helping you to figure out how to approach the problems you come across in your life and design the right solutions and attitudes ...more
Sara
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book to be helpful and worth reading. Many of the points they made were things that I'd previously considered, but they elaborated or reframed many of them and, especially important to me, encouraged you not to dwell on or agonize over things. For me, it helped refocus my attention different aspects - let's hope I can keep it up!

I checked the book out of the library and it really is best completed as a workbook, which is difficult when I only had the book for two weeks. For example,
...more
Charly
I read this book alongside a Life Designing course which I attended out of interest. I liked the reframing of perspective to help you with situations in which you might feel stuck and have to creatively think of new solutions. However, there is a lot of unacknowledged privilege in this book. The starting point of almost every advice given here is that you're financially secure because the recommended steps involve unpaid efforts and quite a lot of time which is in most people's lives frankly unr ...more
Tee Ponsukcharoen
I have taken a 1-day version of design your life class and it was incredible. The book is even deeper and lasting. This book touches on both philosophy and practicality. Good to have it as a guide to live a well-lived life.
Ying Ying
The book invites us to approach life with the curiosity of a designer and to prototype without fear of failure. The last chapter has been the most enlightening of all; the mind-sets described therein will guide us all along the way.
Robert Sutherland
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of mentions of privilege in the reviews and comments. Noting that the authors are instructors at Stanford, and that the material was workshopped at that school (list price $75,000 per year), those assertions are valid. But because an author is privileged and its test subjects are privileged doesn't by default make their conclusions wrong.

Granted, this is a book for people that are pretty high on the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If you're in the bottom sections worrying
...more
cizi
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically: career coach in a book.

Also: What a win-win / “abundance” mentality looks like and how it plays out

Accessible writing with practical tactics that inspire you to get unstuck and get yourself moving towards a well-designed life. Remember that life is an act of co-creation and the people that you cross paths with will be “collaborators, participants, and informers.”

I’ll wrap up with few quotations that resonated with me:

“Community is more than just sharing resources or hanging out now
...more
Anna Fedusiv
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The authors show to use the Design Thinking approach in designing your life.

I particularly liked the book for the following ideas:
- there is no such thing as a "perfect job." A perfect job is the one created yourself when understanding your values, things you are passionate about, and issues you think are vital for your personal happiness. (The authors also share a bunch of handy techniques that can help answer the above questions).
- If you want to make a career shift - before leaping - try do
...more
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Bill Burnett is an award-winning Silicon Valley designer and the Executive Director of the renowned Design Program at Stanford University.

Bill Burnett is the Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford. He directs the undergraduate and graduate program in design at Stanford, both interdepartmental programs between the Mechanical Engineering department and the Art department. He got his BS
...more

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