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Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work

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From the authors of the #1 New York Times best seller Designing Your Life ("Life has questions. They have answers" --The NYT)--a job-changing, outlook-changing, life-changing book that shows us how to transform our work lives and create a dream job that is meaningful without necessarily changing the job we have. Dysfunctional Belief: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and ther From the authors of the #1 New York Times best seller Designing Your Life ("Life has questions. They have answers" --The NYT)--a job-changing, outlook-changing, life-changing book that shows us how to transform our work lives and create a dream job that is meaningful without necessarily changing the job we have. Dysfunctional Belief: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and there's nothing I can do about it). Reframe: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and I'm finding the problems and the solutions). Bill Burnett and Dave Evans successfully taught graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University and readers of their best-selling book, Designing Your Life ("The prototype for a happy life." --Brian Lehrer, NPR), that designers don't analyze, worry, think, complain their way forward; they build their way forward. In Designing Your Work Life, Burnett and Evans show us how design thinking can transform our present job and our experience of work in general by utilizing the designer mindsets: Curiosity. Reframing. Radical collaboration. Awareness. Bias to action. Storytelling. Dysfunctional Belief: Good enough isn't good enough. Reframe: Good enough is GREAT--for now. Burnett and Evans show us how, with tools, tips, and ideas, to enjoy what we have and to live in a state of "good enough, for now," one of the strongest, most effective reframes there is, and how this idea, once understood and accepted, can make new possibilities available, giving us the energy to enjoy the present moment and allowing us to begin to prototype possible futures. And if we want to quit? Burnett and Evans show us how to use the job we have to get the job we want (in another company), and show us as well, the art and science of quitting (leave the campsite better than we found it), using the power of the quit design to reframe how we finish our current job and get a better one. They write, as well, about how the work world is changing as the automation of work increases (hello Alexa, artificial intelligence, drones, and robots); how thinking like a designer can make us flexible, and ready to adapt to change . . .


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From the authors of the #1 New York Times best seller Designing Your Life ("Life has questions. They have answers" --The NYT)--a job-changing, outlook-changing, life-changing book that shows us how to transform our work lives and create a dream job that is meaningful without necessarily changing the job we have. Dysfunctional Belief: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and ther From the authors of the #1 New York Times best seller Designing Your Life ("Life has questions. They have answers" --The NYT)--a job-changing, outlook-changing, life-changing book that shows us how to transform our work lives and create a dream job that is meaningful without necessarily changing the job we have. Dysfunctional Belief: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and there's nothing I can do about it). Reframe: I'm stuck in a lousy situation (and I'm finding the problems and the solutions). Bill Burnett and Dave Evans successfully taught graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University and readers of their best-selling book, Designing Your Life ("The prototype for a happy life." --Brian Lehrer, NPR), that designers don't analyze, worry, think, complain their way forward; they build their way forward. In Designing Your Work Life, Burnett and Evans show us how design thinking can transform our present job and our experience of work in general by utilizing the designer mindsets: Curiosity. Reframing. Radical collaboration. Awareness. Bias to action. Storytelling. Dysfunctional Belief: Good enough isn't good enough. Reframe: Good enough is GREAT--for now. Burnett and Evans show us how, with tools, tips, and ideas, to enjoy what we have and to live in a state of "good enough, for now," one of the strongest, most effective reframes there is, and how this idea, once understood and accepted, can make new possibilities available, giving us the energy to enjoy the present moment and allowing us to begin to prototype possible futures. And if we want to quit? Burnett and Evans show us how to use the job we have to get the job we want (in another company), and show us as well, the art and science of quitting (leave the campsite better than we found it), using the power of the quit design to reframe how we finish our current job and get a better one. They write, as well, about how the work world is changing as the automation of work increases (hello Alexa, artificial intelligence, drones, and robots); how thinking like a designer can make us flexible, and ready to adapt to change . . .

30 review for Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    Given my feelings about the first book, it seems unlikely that I would choose to read this one, and yet here we are, and I really can't say that this one was much better than the first, although to be fair, my perspective has changed a lot since reading the first one. I have to say it. This one is just as bougie as the first. The authors underestimate how many people struggle with basic survival (even employed people) and don't seem to understand privilege in the least. The book has a socially co Given my feelings about the first book, it seems unlikely that I would choose to read this one, and yet here we are, and I really can't say that this one was much better than the first, although to be fair, my perspective has changed a lot since reading the first one. I have to say it. This one is just as bougie as the first. The authors underestimate how many people struggle with basic survival (even employed people) and don't seem to understand privilege in the least. The book has a socially conservative tone that assumes a mostly white, mostly male, christian, and heteronormative world where no one experiences bias, glass ceilings, microaggressions, etc. These are profound problems in a book that assumes anyone, anywhere can change anything about their work life. It makes me think badly about Stanford, compared to other elite schools that are certainly more woke than where these guys are coming from. I am so frustrated by all of that. That said, some of their concept are useful. My favorite was BDO - best doable option - and I intend to introduce that one to colleagues who bemoan having to make imperfect choices and who cling to options that are purely theoretical. The what-do-you-make discussion was helpful as well. I did the exercise for that one with the sliders representing money, impact, and expression. Turns out, I have a very low need for expression, but I feel frustrated by what I'm doing in terms of impact...and I'm already working on that without needing this book to tell me to do that. The visual, however, was really satisfying to have. The brief discussion about StrengthsFinder was good too. It prompted me to revisit my results. Overall, not a book I'm going to recommend, even though it does have small bites that I found worthwhile. For people who have tons of resources and privilege, but who are lost AF, this book may have some insight. Also, I can't shake the feeling that a lot of the stories in it sound fake...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I got this out of the library because I found Burnett and Evans's earlier book helpful in imagining how I might like my life to look as I moved toward retirement. Because I am pretty happy at how things are working for me, this book is not essential for me. But if I was younger, and particularly if I was thinking about changing jobs, the exercises and strategies contained here would be very helpful. I like the ideas of reframing and curiosity around being bored or feeling out of place: What did I got this out of the library because I found Burnett and Evans's earlier book helpful in imagining how I might like my life to look as I moved toward retirement. Because I am pretty happy at how things are working for me, this book is not essential for me. But if I was younger, and particularly if I was thinking about changing jobs, the exercises and strategies contained here would be very helpful. I like the ideas of reframing and curiosity around being bored or feeling out of place: What did I learn today? What did I initiate? Who did I help? Likewise, considering money, impact, and expression as each important rather getting stuck on one or another. And remembering that autonomy, relatedness, and competence all play a part in work satisfaction. There are full chapters on staying, quitting, moving on, and being your own boss, all with exercises and strategies. An easy read but very practical for those thinking about how to thrive at work in these changing days.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Fantastic book! Insightful with hands on examples of what you need to do to reframe your mindset and either make the best of your current situation or find a way to design your way out of it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    So white - so cis - so male! So ableist! Literally take what’s useful and ditch the rest.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    As a follow-up to their first book, I found this book to be more more "practical" and career oriented. As a career coach, it was filled with psychology and techniques that I've used over the years with great success. I'm glad to have the resource to hopefully better articulate some ideas for actions my clients can take. I don't think I learned anything new here. I have read the full books of some of the psychologists quoted and employed many of these concepts. But I think for the average worker- As a follow-up to their first book, I found this book to be more more "practical" and career oriented. As a career coach, it was filled with psychology and techniques that I've used over the years with great success. I'm glad to have the resource to hopefully better articulate some ideas for actions my clients can take. I don't think I learned anything new here. I have read the full books of some of the psychologists quoted and employed many of these concepts. But I think for the average worker-this could be a helpful tool. I also liked that the examples shared in the book weren't exclusively corporate, but showcase how people from a variety of differnt jobs could use these tools. It was also interesting that the authors used a lot of their own experiences when illustrating a point. I don't remember that as much from the first book. I think it lent credibility to the points they were trying to illustrate--espeically becuse you can ask, what qualifies them to give this advice/provide these tools. And by sharing their stories--you see that their qualifications come from their experience.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    Disclaimer: I am a certified DYL coach and work with the material in the first DYL book frequently. Even with an insiders view, I found most of the content here new, relevant a refreshing. The two most useful chapters are "Power and Politics" and "Being Your Own Boss". As with the original DYL there are plenty (seventeen, I think) introspective exercises to help push one forward, some are variations of DYL (Good Work journal is an extension of Good Time Journal, but more actionable). The Maker M Disclaimer: I am a certified DYL coach and work with the material in the first DYL book frequently. Even with an insiders view, I found most of the content here new, relevant a refreshing. The two most useful chapters are "Power and Politics" and "Being Your Own Boss". As with the original DYL there are plenty (seventeen, I think) introspective exercises to help push one forward, some are variations of DYL (Good Work journal is an extension of Good Time Journal, but more actionable). The Maker Mix is very simple useful tool and really deserved to be in the first book. I will use this material in coaching, but my two part critique is where coaching must supplement: 1) Some of the examples are weak and simply don't do a good job of supporting the author's premises or suggestions and 2) the bits about the 'hidden job market' are certainly true, but they re-used the same example from DYL to illustrate job search and this example, in both books, it simply inadequate for *most* people to use as guidance on job search.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    These two are undoubtedly qualified to speak to design thinking, and this book builds on the previous highly-successful "Designing Your Life." Admittedly, I did not read the former . . . and probably now won't. This is a bit of a pep-talk self-help book, helpful to those looking to improve their current work lot or change it, but it's a stretch to say that it somehow applies the design thinking methodology to assessing and working on one's work life. Rather, while addressing techniques and framew These two are undoubtedly qualified to speak to design thinking, and this book builds on the previous highly-successful "Designing Your Life." Admittedly, I did not read the former . . . and probably now won't. This is a bit of a pep-talk self-help book, helpful to those looking to improve their current work lot or change it, but it's a stretch to say that it somehow applies the design thinking methodology to assessing and working on one's work life. Rather, while addressing techniques and frameworks to improve one's work life, it squints and turns its head a bit sideways to allow a small number of design thinking techniques or aspects in, claiming them as methodology. It curves closest to design thinking when, toward the end of the book, it refers to design thinking techniques in suggesting techniques of leadership of employees . . . not the immediate subject. An OK career advice book, not a design thinking book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michele Rapp

    This is not your typical career book! As an experienced career coach, I found many fresh ideas for my work and exciting new tools to offer clients. The life design principles from this book and the earlier, Designing Your Life, offer a powerful set of ideas and exercises. The authors provide valuable insights into how people typically get stuck as well as effective steps for reframing problems and getting into action. I especially liked the “don’t resign, redesign” chapter, which shows how to be This is not your typical career book! As an experienced career coach, I found many fresh ideas for my work and exciting new tools to offer clients. The life design principles from this book and the earlier, Designing Your Life, offer a powerful set of ideas and exercises. The authors provide valuable insights into how people typically get stuck as well as effective steps for reframing problems and getting into action. I especially liked the “don’t resign, redesign” chapter, which shows how to be “the designers of our own lives” and find new options for satisfaction in a current job. You’ll find many creative, insightful and practical exercises that are easy to complete, such as the “impact map” and “maker mix.” I highly recommend Designing Your Work Life for its innovative and impactful approach to career and life satisfaction.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    We’ll see how implementation of the ideas presented in this book actually go, but overall I believe this book is full of actually actionable steps and exercises that can change your mindset and approach to work. In comparison to a lot of other professional development books I have read that stay mostly focused on theory, every chapter is chock full of action plans, diagrams, and worksheets that can help you work through the ideas presented. Have I actually done them all? No. Do I think they are We’ll see how implementation of the ideas presented in this book actually go, but overall I believe this book is full of actually actionable steps and exercises that can change your mindset and approach to work. In comparison to a lot of other professional development books I have read that stay mostly focused on theory, every chapter is chock full of action plans, diagrams, and worksheets that can help you work through the ideas presented. Have I actually done them all? No. Do I think they are necessarily applicable in my situation? Not necessarily. But you don’t actually know until you try, and again, at least this book is full of ideas you can start trying. I am reading this as part of a larger staff development program with my job too, so it will be very interesting to see how my coworkers perceive this advice as well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    I'm not sure I'm the best reader for this book. Topics like money v. meaning, mind-set, and power and politics--roughly the first half of the book--were more useful to me than topics like quitting, moving on, and being one's own boss. Like Bill and Dave's previous book, Designing Your Life, Designing Your Work Life is great and full of helpful ideas and activities. I found dysfunctional beliefs and corresponding reframes most helpful and again I've been given new ways of thinking about relevant I'm not sure I'm the best reader for this book. Topics like money v. meaning, mind-set, and power and politics--roughly the first half of the book--were more useful to me than topics like quitting, moving on, and being one's own boss. Like Bill and Dave's previous book, Designing Your Life, Designing Your Work Life is great and full of helpful ideas and activities. I found dysfunctional beliefs and corresponding reframes most helpful and again I've been given new ways of thinking about relevant problems at work. Between both books, I found DYL more helpful based on my circumstances, but DYWL is another must-read for anyone looking for tools and ideas to help them thrive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

    Wow, that was fantastic! I’m a fan of design thinking and this book hit the spot! Like many amazing practical book, there’s homework -_-. I have not done them, since I listened to this book while multitasking. But yes, similar to High Performance Habits, I’ll get a little notebook, set an afternoon assise, and nerd out on the practices and activities. I love that the authors included career transitioning, options, and the how to. Too many books talk about just the being at work part and don’t ha Wow, that was fantastic! I’m a fan of design thinking and this book hit the spot! Like many amazing practical book, there’s homework -_-. I have not done them, since I listened to this book while multitasking. But yes, similar to High Performance Habits, I’ll get a little notebook, set an afternoon assise, and nerd out on the practices and activities. I love that the authors included career transitioning, options, and the how to. Too many books talk about just the being at work part and don’t have enough on how to go though the thinking and designing process. Genuine and practice advice all around. Can’t wait to read their first hit: How to Design Your Life!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kirstin Swartz

    I picked this up because of the title and the subject had epitomes of what I enjoyed most about Sarah Knight’s “Get Your Sh*t Together.” Designing Your Work Life is all about re-framing your way of thinking and focusing on what you can do to make your life even just a little bit better; how to make it good enough, for now. This is a great book for younger full time workers who are struggling with their current work lives and need expert advice and guides on how to stay positive and motivated at I picked this up because of the title and the subject had epitomes of what I enjoyed most about Sarah Knight’s “Get Your Sh*t Together.” Designing Your Work Life is all about re-framing your way of thinking and focusing on what you can do to make your life even just a little bit better; how to make it good enough, for now. This is a great book for younger full time workers who are struggling with their current work lives and need expert advice and guides on how to stay positive and motivated at work, or even see if the work that you are doing is what you should be doing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anandh Sundar

    I decided to read this book basis the extract on gracefully quitting your job: the chapter on a good handover itself is worth the whole book. other points like Maker mix, delegating, networking etc is good but also the overall approach to be content but not complacent. Good enough for now leaves open the possibility of growth and change but doesn’t make changing for change’s sake a goal. And it doesn’t make getting “more” a priority. It is a powerful reframe and a point of view that puts you in I decided to read this book basis the extract on gracefully quitting your job: the chapter on a good handover itself is worth the whole book. other points like Maker mix, delegating, networking etc is good but also the overall approach to be content but not complacent. Good enough for now leaves open the possibility of growth and change but doesn’t make changing for change’s sake a goal. And it doesn’t make getting “more” a priority. It is a powerful reframe and a point of view that puts you in control of what you need in life and what you want to choose to invite into your life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stevo Brock

    This book was Stevo's Business Book of the Week for the week of 3/8, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet and Stevo's Novel Ideas. How to visualize and build a work-life that is productive, engaged, meaningful, and more fun. Find more Business Books of the week on my Goodreads Listopia page at https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9..., and find many more recommended books on my Amazon Influencer page at https://www.amazon.com/shop/stevo4747. This book was Stevo's Business Book of the Week for the week of 3/8, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet and Stevo's Novel Ideas. How to visualize and build a work-life that is productive, engaged, meaningful, and more fun. Find more Business Books of the week on my Goodreads Listopia page at https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9..., and find many more recommended books on my Amazon Influencer page at https://www.amazon.com/shop/stevo4747.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Han

    Everyone who has a job and is not thrilled with it should have this book. I wish I did before I quit any number of jobs, always looking for something better but not sure how to find it. This gives hope until you quit, a blueprint for improving your situation where you are, and advice on how to move on if you decide to. If nothing else, it's validating of the burnout and disengagement that a lot of us feel at work. Luckily, it gives actionable tasks to get beyond that, not just wish it away.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Good tips for both trying to reframe your current situation and moving on from your current situation if that's what is best for you. There are some good examples here of how to reinvest and reinvent your current job. The authors talk about office politics and an influence. I think this tends to be situational and that not everyone is going to be able to have influence in their current role. Some roles are just too small and inconsequential. Further, the office environment might not be open to c Good tips for both trying to reframe your current situation and moving on from your current situation if that's what is best for you. There are some good examples here of how to reinvest and reinvent your current job. The authors talk about office politics and an influence. I think this tends to be situational and that not everyone is going to be able to have influence in their current role. Some roles are just too small and inconsequential. Further, the office environment might not be open to change. There are good reminders here about working with your network and the importance of maintaining good relationships. This is probably how you will get your next job, not from applying to random positions. Finally, there are solid strategies here for moving on and quitting well. These are important to going your career moving forward.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Earl

    I really enjoyed their first book which was a general guide to a better life. This was more specific. The only reason I didn't like it as much because it wasn't relevant to me at this time. I can see how helpful this would be to others. In fact, I already know some people I should recommend this to.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Wolcott

    Another great book from the authors that can help others shape their work life. It’s one I wish I would have found several months ago. An excellent read with useful strategies, a must read for anyone even if you’re not struggling at work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zandree

    This book is so, so helpful, and it’s one of those I will return to again and again. The shift in thinking for me has been excellent, and I think most people would get a lot out of this book, no matter where you are in life / career. Great stuff!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Azeem Putra

    A book that provides some useful tools and tips to reframe your mind when you are losing interest at work. It offer steps for you to still stick to your current job, complete with exercises that are easy to follow.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I highly recommend this book for people wanting a mid-career reboot or for college graduates trying to find the right job

  22. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Peterson

    The best toolkit out there for people looking to find purpose at work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Trina

    I don't normally read this type of book, nor am I looking to change jobs, but it was still interesting and I learned a few good tips.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dago Campo

    Really helped me refocused in that things that have to change at work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura Pershern

    This is hands down the most practical self help book I've ever read. If you want real strategies and techniques for change - this book is IT!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Very useful frameworks and tools for redesigning work.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Very actionable tips, best to read if you are really considering a change in work life/approach.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Heckert

    Lovin' Bill and Dan's approach to life and work. They provide great insight on how we can choose the direction in our life rather than just letting it happen to us.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kiswara Mihardja

    “Dysfunctional Belief: Happiness is having it all. Reframe: Happiness is letting go of what you don’t need.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ceren Altincekic

    Some good advice but really nothing new that we don't already know.

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