Designing Your Life – Chapter 1 Summary

When I was a kid, my teachers told me I had math skills.  So I was in the GATE program and thought I was going to be an aeronautical engineer.  I was in 4th or 5th grade when I had this idea. I don’t even know how I learned about such a thing!  When I got to high school, all my interests went out the door for a few reasons, one being girls! [It’s why my sons are discouraged from dating during high school.  LOL] I lost sight of math and didn’t do very well in school. I barely graduated (2.6 GPA). And it’s not because I was dumb. 

My dad encouraged me to study computers in 1996 so I did.  By 1998, I was working for a mortgage bank doing tier 3 systems support for about 5.5 years.  In 2003, I started working for another mortgage bank as an IT help desk project manager and then in the HR training.  It was an “ok” job but I was depressed. I felt like something was missing. After a few more years of working at this place, Christina encouraged me to chase after a sense of call I had.  So in 2006, I started working at a church and then transitioned into corporate chaplaincy. Some of it was just luck with how I ended up with Hoehn Motors.

What I found was that I was learning to pay attention to my inner tank and it kept telling me that it was empty.  

I didn’t grow up with therapy language or discernment tools.  I didn’t have many life skills but I knew how to pay attention to what I was feeling inside.  It’s like that Pixar Movie, Inside Out. I could name sadness and pay attention to what I should do with it.  

I had some friends who became my collaborators to explore different options.  The one I ended up with is being a corporate chaplain. I met with the Hoehn’s and they gave me an opportunity to try something new.  My life was definitely in experiment and prototyping mode but I had the bandwidth, courage, and open doors to try it out.

I’m fascinated that we have a say to design our life.  In the book, “Designing Your Life” the authors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, share their insights of design theory and apply to a life well lived.  

In the intro they say, 

“Designers don’t think their way forward.  Designers build their way forward…you are going to build things (prototypes), try stuff, and have a lot of fun in the process.” 

Designing Your Life, by Evans and Burnett

The focus is on career, since we spend most of our time working.  And work, in my faith tradition, is not a curse but a Divine trait within us to create, design, and produce.  We have an intrinsic desire to make something out of nothing.  

I’m learning that I’ve been designing my life ever since I was young.  The authors talk about being curious, trying new things, reframing the issues, and asking for help.  I was doing this as I look back to my late 20s and decision to become a chaplain.  

In my last job before becoming a chaplain, I was curious about organizations being cared for and how they ran.  I thought about what would happen if more empathy and compassion were practiced in the workplace, not knowing that I’d be doing that kind of work later.  

I prototyped being a chaplain at Hoehn the first few years.  It was a part time gig but I had other clients and more requests to care for employees.  And I came alive with these new opportunities. Work was now fun! I didn’t come home and fall asleep.  I’d come home to my wife and newborn all excited about what was happening in and around me. I had a newfound joy.  

But it started with me being honest with where I was.  

I’m still learning how to design.  But it’s much easier now to pay attention to what’s happening inside, showing myself empathy, and then try to see what the issue is.  

Even this blog and podcast are prototypes!  My close friends have been encouraging me to write a book.  This C average dude is working on his writing and speaking voice!  

What about your work and life?  Are you experiencing joy? Or is your career a constant burden?  What kinds of questions are you having about your job? Have you slowed down enough to listen to the inner thoughts and emotions?  

As the authors say, “It’s never too late to design a life you love.” 

Here’s the amazon link to the book for purchase.

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