Designing Your Life Book Summary - Designing Your Life Book explained in key points
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Designing Your Life summary

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

4.1 (247 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans is a self-help guide that teaches you how to apply design thinking to your career and life. By experimenting, iterating, and prototyping, you can create a life you love.

Table of Contents

    Designing Your Life
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Too many people are stuck in a rut, but you can design your way to a better life.

    If you feel completely content with your personal and professional life, then consider yourself lucky. Most people are unhappy with at least some aspects of their life.

    For instance, many people worry that they’ve chosen the wrong profession.

    In a poll of US workers, two-thirds of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their job, some of them saying they feel trapped because their diploma is in a field they’d rather not be in. They have a degree in civil engineering, for instance, and feel doomed to pursue a career in this field that they never really enjoyed in the first place.

    Indeed, around 31 million Americans between the ages of 44 and 70 would choose a different encore career if they could, one that gives them a sense of personal meaning and societal impact, as well as a steady paycheck, but they see no way of getting there.

    With all these unsatisfied workers, what we need is a new way of designing our lives to meet our needs and desires.

    A degree shouldn’t limit your options. After all, three-fourths of US college graduates end up in a field that has nothing to do with the subject they majored in. You may have chosen to get a certain degree, but it needn’t determine your future.

    Whatever your age, background or profession, thinking like a designer and creating a well-designed life can bring you more satisfaction and joy.

    A well-designed life is one that allows you to be creative, happy and fulfilled. It helps you to avoid feeling stuck and unproductive while providing you with a sense of freedom – freedom to change and grow, in both your personal and professional life – no matter how old you are.

    Everything around you is designed: your house or apartment, the chair you sit on and the computers and devices you use. So why not design your life, too?

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    What is Designing Your Life about?

    Designing Your Life (2016) is about taking control of your life by creating a plan that’ll do away with an uninspired nine-to-five routine and usher in a career that you really love. You’ll find advice and exercises that will point you toward your true calling, along with progressive ideas that challenge the limitations of traditional career counseling.

    “I love this practical, no-nonsense approach to the often nebulous topic of identifying the life you want to lead.” – Ben H, Head of Content at Blinkist

    Designing Your Life Review

    Designing Your Life (2016) is a book that combines design thinking principles with personal development to help readers craft a fulfilling and purposeful life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a fresh perspective on finding your true passions and designing a life that aligns with your values and goals.
    • The book provides a practical framework and a wide range of interactive exercises to guide readers in creating their own unique life designs.
    • With its emphasis on experimentation and iteration, the book invites readers to view life as a continuous design process, sparking creativity and motivation.

    Best quote from Designing Your Life

    Since theres no one destination in life, you cant put your goal into your GPS and get the turn-by-turn directions for how to get there.

    —Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
    example alt text

    Who should read Designing Your Life?

    • Students and recent graduates plotting their way forward
    • Adults both young and old who feel adrift in life
    • Career counselors

    About the Author

    Bill Burnett has a master’s degree in product design from Stanford University, where he now teaches and heads the Design Program. With over thirty years of experience, he is an expert who still draws, designs and builds things every day.

    Dave Evans also teaches at Stanford as part of the Product Design Program. After a varied career path that took him from marine biology to mechanical engineering, he worked at Apple and eventually cofounded Electronic Arts, where he still offers his services as a consultant.

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    Designing Your Life FAQs 

    What is the main message of Designing Your Life?

    The main message of Designing Your Life is to approach life as a design project, using design thinking principles to create a fulfilling and meaningful life.

    How long does it take to read Designing Your Life?

    The reading time for Designing Your Life varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Designing Your Life a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Designing Your Life is a valuable read for anyone looking to design a life they love. It offers practical insights and tools to guide you towards a more fulfilling and intentional life.

    Who is the author of Designing Your Life?

    The authors of Designing Your Life are Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

    What to read after Designing Your Life?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Designing Your Life, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett
    • Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
    • Design Your Future by Dominick Quartuccio
    • Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
    • Do Over by Jon Acuff
    • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • The Long View by Brian Fetherstonhaugh
    • Get Momentum by Jason W. Womack and Jodi Womack
    • Gut Check by Steven R. Gundry
    • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle