Designing Your Life: Build a Compass

Jann Freed Leading, Learning, Living 2 Comments

Do you know the way?  Are you designing your life so the rest of life is the best of life? 

Several of my recent posts have been about designing your life based on a book by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans titled Designing Your Life:  How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.  They say start where you are and that requires an assessment and they describe their life design assessment.  This is based on looking at your life in four areas:

  • Health–emotional, physical, and mental
  • Work–activities that you do–for pay, no pay, part-time (what gets you out of bed in the morning)
  • Play–activities that bring joy
  • Love–relationships with friends and family

In order to assess these areas, Burnett and Evans suggest a using a “dashboard” measurement (as in your car).  How “full” are you on these items?  Where are you on each of these items with zero on the left and FULL on the right?

After taking a quick assessment of your life, the authors recommend building a compass.  This is done by doing a Workview and then Lifeview.  The theory is to review where you are right now about work and about life.  As you might anticipate, these views change based on where you are in both work and life.  So with every life stage, it makes sense to build your compass to guide the way.  According to Burnett and Evans, “Our goal for your life is rather simple:  coherency.  A coherent life is one lived in such a way that you can clearly connect the dots between three things:

  • Who you are
  • What you believe
  • What you are doing

They suggest Workview questions might include:

  • Why work?
  • What defines good or worthwhile work?
  • What does money have to do with it?
  • What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?

For Lifeview, questions might be:

  • What is the meaning or purpose of life?
  • Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in?
  • What is good and what is evil?
  • What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life?

After completing these two reviews, they recommend seeing how well the answers align and the integration of the two views by asking these questions:

  • Where do your views on work and life complement one another?
  • Where do they clash?
  • Does one drive the other?  How? 

Reflecting and answering these questions should lead to some clarity to live a more meaningful life based on who you are, what you believe, and what you do. They call this clarity a compass or “True North” to help guide our way.  What resonates most with me about designing our lives is that it is a proactive and intentional approach rather than drifting.  It gives us more control over our own destiny.  The word “design” says to me that life involves creativity, does not have to take the time to be all planned out, and yet implies life does not always go as planned.  There will be unexpected surprises–both good and bad–to the journey.

But if we have devoted time and thought to this whole process, then the compass will help us make decisions and hopefully point us in our desired direction.  According to Thomas Oppong: “Successful people don’t grow by accident, they grow by design.”

How are you making your life decisions?

What is guiding your way?

How proactive and intentional are you?  Or are you reactive and drifting?