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  • Writer's pictureLeily L Sanchez

A Review: Designing your Work Life

A book review of the audiobook Designing Your Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans.

As a young professional getting ready to graduate and join the workforce in my first career path full-time position, the title of the book really attracted me. When I picked it up, I knew exactly what I hoped this book would teach me. "Designing Your Work Life" was an excellent exploration into building a strategy for my job search and helped frame the way that I think about my career.

The following are the concepts that gave me the most impact from the perspective of a young professional.

"Before you can figure out where you are going, you need to know where you are."

While I have a pretty good idea of where I am right now, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans provided valuable insight for me to keep in mind: always know where you are. You can't navigate and use a map if you don't know where you are at all times. As one moves in their careers, Burnett and Evans assert the importance of planning your next moves based on your current position. Additionally, the authors clarify:

"People desire to have their income-producing work also be their meaning-producing work... Make money one way and have a life another."

I'd say that these sentences were the most freeing sentences I have ever read about career planning. I love my chosen career and I whole-heartedly believe that marketing has the power to be a meaning-producing field. However, reading these two sentences freed me to be okay with finding other ways to feel fulfilled with who I am as an individual, separate from my professional skills and career.

I used to sing professionally and I still believe and derive meaning from singing and making music in my free time. As a teen and throughout college, I have also found time to dedicate my artistic and professional skills to non-profit organizations. Authors Burnett and Evans, made me realize that to be as fully me as I can be, it is okay to dedicate time to your career and to other things that also provide meaning and enjoyment to our lives.

Meanwhile, 'Are we there yet?' highlights the impatience that can arise from not moving through your career fast enough. My Q & A guest Louie Sandoval and I discussed how it can be easy to feel impatient with our careers. Just like Sandoval, the authors say that there needs to be an appreciation for the present.

"I have what I need and that is good for now."

Good enough should be good enough for the moment while we plan our next moves; it is our responsibility to make the best of the now to help us in the future.

In the process of writing this reflective review, my mind came to reflect on our present situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, that might mean expressing gratitude and game planning to find ways to advance our careers during the stay-at-home directives.

So, just like Burnett and Evans, I encourage you to practice the following exercise:

  1. Pick two or three moments that stand out

  2. Describe them with one or two words

  3. Reflect on the experience

  4. Reinforce with gratitude

What you get from this exercise will be different than what I got. But independent of the recommendation of the authors, it is important for me to make sure that I am not only taking supplemental courses and watching LinkedIn Learning videos but also increasing my meditation and yoga practice to express gratitude and focus on my well-being through exercises like the one above. After all, designing your work life is not only about your work life, it is about you; all of you.



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