Navigating our lives to be meaningful and fulfilling is a process full of uncertainty and ambiguity. While it would be much easier if a clear road map was laid out before us, to quote Joseph Campbell, “if the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
Framing these transitions as a design challenge is a helpful way to gain clarity on next steps. In the MovingWorlds Institute, we help professionals apply tools like human-centered design to navigate career transitions. Similarly, career coaches around the world use the Designing Your Life approach (based on the book and interactive workbook by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans) to help clients build a life that is both fulfilling and meaningful.
According to the authors of Designing Your Life, where we put our attention (our brain energy) is actually how we experience our day. Start by writing down all of the activities that you do (without judgement) to see where you spend your energy each day, and then use the worksheet to map it. See if you can identify patterns in your energy patterns, and what easily accessible things you can eliminate or move around to boost your energy and engagement. For more information about the energy engagement exercise, check out this video of Dave Evans & Bill Burnett explaining how to use it on CreativeLive.
The failure log is a helpful tool to help you reframe your ‘failures’ as learning opportunities, which can help build your immunity against the fear of failure so that you can try new things. To do this exercise, first log your failures from the past, present, or any time you want. Then, categorize them as either screwups (simple things you usually get right), weaknesses (things that regularly happen and could be improved), and growth opportunities (with an identifiable cause that you can fix.) From there, hone in on the growth opportunities and debrief what went wrong, what could’ve gone differently, and how you can approach these situations in the future.
The good time journal is similar to the energy engagement worksheet, but you can use it daily or weekly to track where your time is going and how you feel about it. Enter each activity in the activity log, being as specific as possible. Then, reflect on each activity and identify how engaged you felt and whether it brought negative or positive energy. From there, look for trends or patterns that suggest what does (or doesn’t) work well for you.
The idea behind the love, play, work, health dashboard is that you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are. Complete the ‘current’ dashboard as honestly as you can, and then think about what changes you’d like to see in your ‘revised’ dashboard. The goal here is to identify opportunities for incremental adjustment to get your current dashboard closer to the revised dashboard you want.
The odyssey planning worksheet allows you to explore different versions of what your life could look like, mapping out multiple ways your life could unfold. To get started, list 3 different five-year plans. Then, give each plan a six-word title. Next, rank each life plan. (For more complete instructions, check out this article.)
These improvs and warmups are tools to help you brainstorm ways to prototype your options based on your odyssey planning. Full instructions included in the worksheet!
Looking for more support in navigating your career transition? Apply to the MovingWorlds Institute, where you’ll join an international cohort of professionals to learn, grow, and create change while accelerating your social-good career.