Designing your life

In the Mid-Career Faculty Leadership Program that I am participating in this year, one of the activities we are doing is reading the book, “Designing your life – how to build a well-lived joyful life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. For years, they have been teaching a course of the same name at Stanford University, and it’s one of the most popular electives there, apparently. The idea is that they use design thinking principles to have you go through exercises to figure out how to modify your life mindset, goals, activities to bring you true meaning and fulfillment in your life.

After first going through an explanation for why their method works so well, the reader is instructed to try various writing exercises to help hone in on how to (eventually) make positive changes to improve their lives. For example, the first thing is to gauge where you are at. You write a paragraph on how “full” you feel in the categories of Health, Work, Play, and Love, with giving a score of what percent full you feel. You then spend some time writing your “Workview” and your “Lifeview” philosophies. The idea is that you first need to get a sense of where you are and what you want/value/desire.

So, I’ve begun doing it, and I’m very curious to see how it will play out for me, as I go through all the exercises. I see this year as a rather transformational year for me. This month three years ago (August 2019) is when my midlife crisis truly began, when a series of unfortunate events led me to completely lose sense of who I was. It’s been a long journey these last three years, full of plenty of bumps and setbacks, personally. But I feel myself finally emerging from the fog and I’m very excited to see how this year plays out.

What is particularly fascinating to me about doing the Designing your life exercises is that I actually was given this book back in August 2018, and I have the written exercises in my journal. August 2018 is when I began my daily journaling habit. Now, I don’t think that I ended up finishing the book or doing all the exercises, back then. But I plan to finish them this time. It’s interesting to compare my writings from then and now.

For example, in 2018, I rated my health as 50%, because even though I was super fit (I lifted weights obsessively and was very trim and muscular) and I ate very healthy foods, my stress level was so high that I had major digestive issues (I could not even have a normal bowel movement), I had other autoimmune disorder flareups at times, and I had insomnia so that I woke up and started my day by 3AM every morning. I over-worked myself and I did not see how to stop it.

Whereas now, I think my health is in a similar place but for different reasons. My digestive system is SO much better, I no longer have regular insomnia, and my autoimmune disorder has quieted. But I don’t exercise as much as I used to (or as much as I should to be healthy, at least) and I eat too much sugar now. I had deprived myself of sugar for so many years that now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. So, my main goal moving forward in this area is to get more consistent with a regular exercise practice.

On that note, I think I should wrap this up so that I have time to exercise before work! I will continue updating this blog with how the Designing your life exercises go!

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