Designing Your Life Part 2

By Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

In the previous post, we discussed dysfunctional beliefs that may hinder personal growth.  Below are five design thinking ideas from the TEDx Talk on Designing Your Life, that will help increase your self-efficacy as you move forward in the design thinking process.

  • IDEA #1: CONNECTING THE DOTS – To live a life that is meaningful and purposeful, you must know who you are, what you believe and what you do in the world.  To begin connecting the dots, examine your life-view and your work-view.  Your life-view is your understanding of the world and the ultimate reason why you’re here. Your work-view, goes beyond what you want out of work – it’s your definition, of what good work should entail. If you’re able to make a connection between these two views and create a coherent story, you may begin to experience a more meaningful life.
  • IDEA #2: GRAVITY & ACCEPT Gravity problems are circumstances we experience yet cannot change.  To live a meaningful life, we must accept this reality, have an open mindset and be willing to focus on problems that we can actually solve.  
  • IDEA #3: HOW MANY LIVES ARE YOU?  –  In his design thinking courses, Professor Burnett does a thought experiment with his students, and asks them imagine to themselves living in multiple, parallel universes.  At the end of the experiment, his students realize that they have more than one life– or interests that they want to explore. In order for us to discover our many lives, we must create an odyssey plan to explore alternative lives. 
  • IDEA #4: PROTOTYPING – In the design thinking process, you will generate ideas to help you move forward. However, to be successful, you must build a protype of your ideal life. Protyping allows you to test out your ideas, when you aren’t sure about what you really want. You can protype your ideal life, by talking to someone who is doing what you want to do or by actually doing what you want to do.
  • IDEA #5: CHOOSING WELL –  Determining which option to choose can be difficult because of fear of making the wrong decision or FOMO. According to Professor Burnett, if you make decisions reversible, your chances of being happy goes down about 60%-70%.  The process of choosing well requires that you: gather and create options to explore; narrow down your options to lists that you can work with; make a choice; then let go and then move on – it’s that simple!  Stand by your choice and make your decision irreversible. 

Take a few minutes to reflect upon the principle that you want to implement today.  How will this principle help improve your life? We will conclude the design thinking series, by creating an odyssey plan: a five-year plan that will explore alternative paths you can realistically pursue to design the life you want.

Designing Your Life Part 1

By: Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

Three Part Series: 1 of 3

In 2017, Stanford University professor and author, Bill Burnett presented a TEDx Talk, on how he helps scholars design their lives using the technique of design thinking. Design thinking can help you design and create a lifestyle that is meaningful as well as fulfilling. As a student at JHSPH, you have the ability to design your life by maximizing all opportunities and resources that the School has to offer! To begin the design thinking process, be willing to have an open mindset, try something that has never been done before, and confront dysfunctional beliefs.

Dysfunctional beliefs can hinder you from working toward your personal and professional career goals. Here are few mentioned in the TedXtalk:

  • Dysfunctional Belief  #1: You can only be passionate about one thing. According to a Stanford study, less than 20% of people have one identifiable passion in their lives. This study found that eight out of ten people have multiple interests (passions).  In design thinking, passion is not an organizing principle for your search or your design. If you have several things that you are passionate about, you can pursue them all – by designing a plan to help you execute your ideas into motion.
  • Dysfunctional Belief  #2: You should know where you’re going by now and how to get there. You may have family and friends who have unrealistic expectations for you. According to Professor Burnett, people must be accepted for who they are, and should not be expected to have certain things by a particular age or designated time. They believe that anyone can start designing the life they want, from where they are.
  • Dysfunctional Belief  #3: Be the best version of you! This belief implies that there is one singular best. However, there are many versions of a person. For example, although you are a graduate student, you may be an executive at a large company, a parent, or a sibling. No matter which hat you wear at a given time, there’s only one you, and you are truly the best.

Are there cultural or societal ideologies that you believe are hindrances? Take a few moments to reflect upon these beliefs, write them down, and then commit to moving forward. In part two of this series, I will share five design thinking strategies from Dr. Burnett to help empower you in designing your life on your own terms.