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I came across Designing Your Life: Build a Life That Works for You by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans at an airport bookstore. The title of the book instantly grabbed my attention and I immediately started to read it. As happens quite often, it just wasn’t the right time, so after eagerly reading the first few pages it quickly found its way on my bookshelf. It wasn’t until a couple of years down the line that I found myself drawn to it again, this time I was ready to implement their design tools to create my version of a well-designed life.
The design principles and techniques outlined in the book help you to discover and build towards a life that is in alignment with your deepest values—where what you believe, what you do and who you are, are one and the same. A personal favourite that has impacted my decision making the most, was to build a compass and establish my "Workview" and "Lifeview." To get clear on what it is I really want my life to look like and to stand firm in my pursuit of it. To know my boundaries and make decisions without having to compromise, but learning to adopt innovative thinking to build my way forward.
I discovered that my personal philosophy of work, what it’s for, and what it means to me, other than to make a living and support a desired lifestyle, is to give back to humanity, work towards a meaningful cause, something that brings about positive change, and helps improve the lives of others. To channel energy creatively and productively, to enrich my life and bring about internal growth. The ability to work remotely, be my own employer, adhere to my own timetable, and have sufficient free time to engage in personal interests. A job that brings out the best in me, utilises my strengths, and engages with a community of like-minded individuals working towards a collective goal.
With regards to my "Lifeview," what matters most to me and what I believe I am here for is to love, to create, to find peace within, to laugh, to play, to learn, to discover new things, to grow, to master the art of living, to listen to life, to live in harmony, to serve, to ascend, to give and receive, to be a kind human-being. To discover who I am, to explore the wonders of life, to join life and lose all fear. To quieten the mind and find stillness. To connect authentically with others and myself. To add value to people's lives. To do things that light me up and bring out the best in me. Reflecting on what gives my life meaning, it’s meeting people from different walks of life, hearing their stories, learning from them, expanding my understanding of the world, and enjoying life moment-by-moment with complete surrender to what is.
As a reader, you are reminded that life is a design project that is ever changing and there is not one but many great versions of you to be explored. We so often get stuck in dysfunctional beliefs that pervade our lives and keep up us from moving forward. Belief systems that have not been questioned and silently run our lives, forming the basis of our decision making. As explained by the authors', these erroneous ideas need to be reframed.
As I write about work, specifically in the context of paid work I am reminded of a phrase I recently read by Jose Mujica, “When you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of your life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy.” We live in such a money oriented society, we forget the reason for why we work and consequently neglect to reflect on what truly gives our life meaning. A conclusion that I draw from the above and a reminder I carry with me is to not squander my life working a job and living a life that does not fulfil me and that is not authentic to who I am.
I also reflect on my experience as a student both at school and at university and I see how deficient they were in teaching and communicating such skills. Life skills that enrich the overall quality of your life, making it one of joyful curiosity. I would like to finish by touching upon Daniel Goleman's "wisdom of emotions," that is also mentioned in the book, showing that as well as the rational mind, feeling should also form part of our compass from which we are guided.