Design your life to get the best job ever

If you've ever watched the 2014 film Fury, you've heard the line "Best job I ever had."


Granted, the protagonists are being more than a little cynical, since they're under attack in a Sherman tank.


wipebook whiteboard notebook stop whining 

However, with that being said, there are a lot people like them who feel stuck and trapped in their jobs, metaphorically speaking that is.


So, the question is: How the heck does one get out of these ruts?


wipebook whiteboard notebook dry erase work smarter not harder

The answer might reside in a little something called: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. It'll help you come to the point where you can honestly say you've found the best job you ever had -- without the cynicism. 


The premise of the book involves taking a design-driven approach to getting yourself "unstuck." For all you makers/engineers/techie-geek-types, Designing Your Life employs traditional product design processes that many of us have already used in designing kick-as* products to solve real-world problems.


The cool thing is we can we use these same techniques to solve softer, personal problems, like making a career move.


wipebook whiteboard notebook think less and build more


Designing Your Life is grounded in a "think less approach" to doing things. I'm not against planning, but remember: Plans never, EVER fully materialize as expected. This notion is captured in an expression that you may have heard me use before: "The cat that jumps is not the same cat that lands."


So, employing a "bing-bang" approach in an attempt to accomplish an end result rarely works in real life. Personally, as an engineer and entrepreneur, I don't necessarily "think" my way to the solution. Instead, I implement my ideas by building real-life representations of them as they come to mind. Then I "make" my way there by iterating...


wipebook whiteboard notebook rinse lather repeat 


Whenever I'm faced with an obstacle, I prefer the types of iterative processes that Burnett and Evans describe in Designing Your Life. If you're in engineering or related fields, you know what I mean -- actively going through a round of set procedures to produce results, and then building on those results to produce a measurable product in the next round.



STEP 1 - DISCOVERY: Brainstorming and working out potential solutions out on a whiteboard or Wipebook so that you express your ideas in a visual way. So, if you're looking for a career move, jot down some options based on things that you like to do. For example, if you like skiing, hiking, and similar outdoor-specific activities, maybe you need to look for a career that involves more physical activity and less sitting around in a cubicle.


STEP 2 - PROTOTYPING: Prototyping involves building on minimal but concrete results --, cheaply, effectively, and quickly. For instance, if you're looking for a career change from the traditional nine-to-five job, you could do volunteer work and/or collaborate with people out in "the field," the "non-cubical" space.


STEP 3 - ITERATING: At the end of the round, though, you need a metric -- what we tech geeks call a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) -- to measure the failure or success of your prototyping experience(s). For example, maybe those 18,000,000 black flies buzzing around your head during your park ranger volunteer weekend could be the just the key performance indicator that tells you to cross that career choice off your list and move on.


There you have it folks: Designing Your Life.  It's a cool read and a cool book, with practical advice and solutions for designing your life, discovering the best job you ever had, and getting yourself unstuck. 


Just sayin'...