Well it turns out that cocooning took longer than I thought it would – the process of dissolving your external identity and going within to explore what you might want to become is non-linear and does not go according to plan, filled with unexpected twists and turns. However, here I am – emerging back into the world. This is still an exploratory phase, but more focused. I am looking for organizations where I would like to show up every day and contribute to success with the skills I bring. But this post is not about what I am looking for, it is about the process of exploring. As I have spoken to people and imagined myself in different organizations, I received a book recommendation that has shifted my thinking and given me a surge of energy: Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
I have always been a fan of design thinking, using it for any number of things from visual display of information to business processes. There is so much freedom and empowerment in trying something through a prototype, in learning through experimentation, in making the change you want to see real and testing it. But it never occurred to me to apply this method to myself. How do you prototype your life?? But in reading this book I’ve learned I can do exactly that. I am excited by all the ways I can discover things through this new frame.
The challenge is how to decide what to explore next through life prototyping. Luckily the authors help with that as well, offering self-reflection exercises to help you articulate your life view, your work view, and how you are doing right now in work, life, play and health. This “compass setting” provides good ground from which to launch into design, along with processes with just enough rigor to help ensure you learn by articulating the questions you want to answer and the hypotheses you want to test – just as with prototyping products. One of my favorite take-aways is that there is not just one right next step, rather there are several good-enough options. This frees me from the anxiety of choosing “right” and instead allows me to focus on the process of choosing, which the book also provides a framework to support.
The final chapter offers suggestions for putting together a Design Team – a group of people who can support each other with ideas and insights as they walk their respective paths. I look forward to the first meeting in a couple of weeks of a few friends I invited to join me in this process. This approach would be great for anyone in transition, who just feels stuck or left wanting more from your life in the present, not in some ideal future. Now that I have adopted it, I think I will be using it indefinitely, not just for work but for any part of my life where what I want and what is aren’t fully in sync. It has generated a mind-shift that I believe will be sticky.