I just completed reading Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Although I have slowed down on researching “How to do a Retirement Transition”, when someone highly recommends a book in this space, I’m still curious enough to purchase and read. You never know when a new nugget of information will help continue the transition. I wish I had read this book much earlier in my transition! While more career focused, it can definitely help someone create their own “retirement by design”.
The core premise of the book is to use the process of Design Thinking to design your life. Design Thinking is a well-documented approach (with tools) that helps you delve into creating the “right solution”, since every design is considered to be a solution to some defined problem. The tools are not checklists or answers, but provide the basis for gathering insights, generating possibilities, and driving to action. In this case the “problem” is the what is your best life, so the insights help in defining who you are, what you believe, and what you want to do. While most examples in the book are examples of designing the right work/career path, the tools are completely applicable to designing the right retirement life.
A few of the elements presented were consistent in my own approach to retirement transition, but they used some cool terminology:
Life Compass – a summary of your Life View and Work View. It’s basically answering the questions of: what are your values, what’s important to you, what engages and energizes you, and why do you work. I’ve explored these areas in some of my blogs like where I discussed the key needs work provides (Status and Identity; Achievement & Utility; Social Affiliation; Time Management & Structure, and Financial Compensation) or understanding how to design in happiness (Level 1 happiness is connected to enjoyment in our interests, Level 2 intensity of happiness is connected to utilizing our strengths or talents and being engaged, and Level 3 happiness is linked to our core values and helps us feel part of something bigger.) Your Life Compass is really discovering and articulating who you are and what you need.
Life Dashboard – a snapshot measurement of core elements of life – health, work, love and play. This concept is similar to my Life Domains concept (7 retirement life domains: Health/Wellbeing; Work/Career; Hobby/Leisure; Relationships/Connections; Location/Lifestyle; Personal Development; and Finances/Prosperity), but adds the idea of actually measuring each element to aid in identifying where you want to spend your time in creating your next life design.
Prototyping – actually doing something, a small step, trying it on. Prototyping comes after brainstorming (creating the possibilities list) and narrowing down choices. Design Thinking has a bias to action – getting to a choice and starting to do is important for designers. Taking action moving into a design direction allows you to experience and learn, adjust and reiterate. There is a fundamental belief that doing something is better than doing nothing – by doing something you can always learn what doesn’t work! I most recently blogged about the 10 Lives Approach – pick a “life” and do it for a month – and my month of becoming a yogi.
The book also provided me with a couple of insights into areas I’m still struggling with:
Passion – passion comes after you try something, do it for a while, and discover you really like it. Most people do not have one thing they are passionate about – the one thing that infuses every waking moment. (This was a very liberating thought!) Most people have multiple, different things for which they have a moderate passion. So try on various things, see what resonates, and become the “hyphenated person”. You know… the “foodie-wanabee, yoga-novice, blogger-extraordinaire.”
Paths – there are many different life paths you could take. You have the talent and energy and interests to live many different types of lives, any and all of which could be authentic, productive, and fulfilling. You shouldn’t be afraid to just start walking down one path and adjusting along the journey. Or living one life path now and starting another life path in the future.
I agree with the recommendation I received – this is a great how-to book for designing the life you want, whether it is the encore career/work you want or the retirement lifestyle you want or some combination of the two!
Picture Credit: Pixabay