The writers and teachers of the book Designing Your Life-How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life (Burnett & Evans) are trying to help people apply design thinking to their life, which is a powerful paradigm shift. Designers start with problems and then work through experimentation and process to “figure out” the best solution. And the solution can be ever evolving. What may work for you in your 20’s may not be the ideal “design” in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. Throughout these times one can be open to innovation and different ideas depending on the “problem” one is trying to solve. The authors teach a class at Stanford that helps students design a life that fits their particular interests and the lifestyle they seek. The guidance also encourages the concept that there is no one “perfect” plan or “life” for you, there are multiple great ways ahead that one can seek at different times. They think it is crazy that we map out this 30-40 year plan at 18 years old and expect things will just run smoothly. Studying a certain subject in college does not always translate into a satisfying or lucrative career, as evidenced in the fact that only 27% of people work in the industry they studied.
The authors introduce the idea of life design by telling you 5 simple things you need to do:
Be Curious (curiosity)
Try stuff (bias to action)
Reframe problems (reframing)
Know it’s a process (awareness)
Ask for help (radical collaboration)
What I really took away from this book are the “reframing” of several “dysfunctional beliefs”, many that I still clung onto as I approach my early 40’s!
At the heart of design thinking is solving a problem or answering a question. In this case the “problem” to be solved is finding a satisfying career and life that fits the unique lifestyle you are looking for. The authors do a nice job of reframing some common “dysfunctional beliefs” that may be holding one back from building the life they seek. Here are some of the highlights from the book that I think apply to those seeking financial independence:
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE
The authors talk about the dysfunctional belief that at some point it is too late to design a life you love. They argue it is never too late to design the life you want by identifying your priorities, desired lifestyle, exploring and finding.
Here are some of the common dysfunctional beliefs and the empowering reframing of them:
DYSFUNCTIONAL BELIEF: If you are successful, you will be happy
REFRAME: True happiness comes from designing a life that works for you.
This is so true in the personal finance and financial independence movement. There are so many different ways and methods to achieve F.I.R.E. This is why we talk about the concept of “True Wealth” here at the Money Vikings. This is a combination of factors that suit you and the life you seek.
DYSFUNCTIONAL BELIEF: I am stuck
REFRAME: I am never stuck, because I can always generate a lot of ideas
You are never stuck on your current financial path. That is something we strongly believe at the Money Vikings. Our posts are all about moving forward and doing what we can do today to make the future even better! Many people around us can serve as living proof that we are never stuck as this or that. The journey is discovering what works for you.
DYSFUNTIONAL BELIEF: I have to find the one right idea.
REFRAME: I need a lot of ideas so that I can explore any number of possibilities for my future.
I am not sure how to relate this one to personal finance but it certainly makes sense in terms of one’s career path. One would want to build different sources of income to build wealth, but as we know building wealth over time is pretty straightforward and simple. But this really applies to figuring out your vocation and career path.
DYSFUNCTIONAL BELIEF: I should know where I’m going!
REFRAME: I won’t always know where I’m going — but I can always know whether I’m going in the right direction.
On our paths to financial independence we do not really know exactly what we will do when we reach a certain goal. But, it is worthy and important to have the goal and when you arrive be flexible in terms of what comes next.
DYSFUNTIONAL BELIEF: I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan, and then execute it.
REFRAME: There are multiple great lives (and plans) within me, and I get to choose which one to build my way forward to next.
I think this is a powerful reframing. There is no such thing as one perfect path forward in your career or to financial independence. We all have to figure things out along the way and decide what works best for our particular life.
Here is an excerpt from the book that I found to be particularly powerful:
No More Hamster Wheel
Designers don’t agonize. They don’t dream about what could have been. They don’t spin their wheels. And they don’t waste their futures by hoping for a better past. Life designers see the adventure in whatever life they are currently building and living into. This is how you choose happiness. And, really, is there any other choice?
These are just a few highlights from the book that scratch the surface of the information and inspiration within. I highly recommend picking up a copy from the library. It could help you map out your next path forward in your life no matter what stage you are in. I found many connections in terms of our personal finance journeys.