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Introduction to Workshop

Lesson 1 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

Introduction to Workshop

Lesson 1 from: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

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Lesson Info

1. Introduction to Workshop

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of this lesson is "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life." In this lesson, the instructors introduce the workshop and discuss why designing one's life is a universal topic that interests people. They explain that the course is for anyone who is in transition, looking for a change, wanting to improve their life, or unsure of how to start making a move. They emphasize that the course applies to people at different stages of life and career, and that the goal is to help individuals build a life that works for them. The instructors also address some dysfunctional beliefs, such as the idea that everyone should have a passion or that one should have their life figured out by a certain age, and they reframe life as an adventure to be designed rather than a problem to be solved.


  1. Who are the instructors of the workshop?

    Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

  2. Who is the workshop designed for?

    The workshop is designed for anyone who is in transition, looking for a change, wanting to improve their life, or unsure of how to start making a move.

  3. What are some common reasons why people might be interested in designing their life?

    Some common reasons include being in transition, wanting to make a change, wanting to improve one's life, and feeling unsure about the next step.

  4. Is the workshop only for people at a certain stage of life or career?

    No, the workshop is for people at different stages of life and career, including those who are just starting out, are in the middle of their career, or are thinking about their encore life.

  5. What is the main goal of the workshop?

    The main goal of the workshop is to help individuals build a life that works for them.

  6. What are some dysfunctional beliefs addressed in the workshop?

    Some dysfunctional beliefs include the idea that everyone should have a passion and that one should have their life figured out by a certain age.

  7. How do the instructors reframe the concept of life?

    The instructors reframe life as an adventure to be designed rather than a problem to be solved.

Lesson Info

Introduction to Workshop

(clapping) Thanks. Good to see ya. Good to see ya. Yeah, come on either side of me here. So guys, I know you have a lot to get to. I have a quick question before we get going. As I mentioned, you've taught this to students, you've taught it to people in corporate environments, retirees. What is it about this topic that is just universal? Everybody seems to want to know more about how to design their life. What is it about this topic? Well, you know, we cheated at Stanford. We're a very popular class because we teach the most popular topic in the world. You! Everybody thinks their life is pretty interesting. Because that question kind of matters to me. Yeah, exactly. People ask themselves the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" You know, that's a common, kind of common question. And we like to reframe that. You should never grow up. But the idea is what do you want to grow into next? And that's a question that turns out to be something everybody wants to talk ab...

out. Wonderful and everybody watching at home right now, this is going to be very interactive. We have lots of exercises that are gonna happen in the room here but when you're watching at home we want you to follow along as well. Do all these exercises. This is going to be interactive. It's going to be fun, it's gonna be a little chaotic. It's gonna be good. We're gonna do some work but we're gonna get somewhere. Alright, well I'm gonna let you guys take it away. Thanks a lot. The stage is yours. Okay, Chris, great. Okay. So, welcome to Designing Your Life. And probably if you're like almost everybody we've worked with before, the first thing on your mind are a couple of questions. And here you might be wondering, like, "Is this course really for me?" "Am I in the right room?" "Should I stay online?" Okay, we've got some answers to those questions. Well, if you sound like this. If you sound like anybody saying something like, "Hey, you know, I'm in transition, I could use some tools." "You know, I'm starting to wonder. Maybe it's time for a change." "Hey, you know, life's good but I'd like it to be a little better. I'm not quite sure how to do that." And, "You know, I'd just like to make a move but I don't know how to start." If that sounds like you, you're in the right place. What situation are you in? Hey, if you look like any of these people. If you're like recently out of college. You're just getting started. You're early in your career, not sure what the next move is going to be. You're right in the middle of "How did I get here?" You're thinking about your encore life. What's that thing I do next? If you're anyone of those people, come on down, you're in the right room. What's that mean? If you're anybody who would like to answer the question, "How do I build a life that really works for me," you're in the right room. Okay, now. Dave, really? Does it really fit that broadly for everybody? Is that really fair? Is that really true? Yes, because we're all answering the same question. "What will I do with the rest of my one wild and precious life?" As the poetess Mary Oliver said. We were in New York recently and had a conference. Front and center was a young woman from the class of 1953, 87 years old with her notepad out and ready to go. And she just says, "I have so many ideas, I don't know where to start." Everybody thinks the rest of their life's pretty important to them. You probably think that's true too. So, that's why this thing applies to everybody. We all have the same problem whether we're in the same situation or not. We've got the same tools to deal with the same issues. So what is it we do need? Well, what are we not needing? What do we not need? We don't need one more inspirational talk. We don't need another diagnostic tool to tell you what's wrong with you. And you probably don't need another over-simplified formula, one, two, three and all will be well. Why? Because life's not necessarily that simple and often when you do those things, you end up back where you started. These are all good things. Inspiration is great, diagnostics are great, formulae, when they work, are great. But all by themselves, they're not enough because you need some things that you can use based on the expertise you have in being you. So we give you tools and ideas. That's it, you've got a pile of ideas and pile of tools by the time you go home today. And what that allows you to do, by organizing them in a framework. You know where to go grab the spoons, where to grab the forks. You just know where they are. Grab the right tool in order to make the next step you need to do in life and career wayfinding. We're all making this up as we go along, that's what wayfinding means. We just want to get good at it. Nobody knows the right answer. But you can get really good at making it up as you go along. And these are the tools designed to do just that. Now, that is a big challenge and it turns out there's a problem. What's the problem, Bill? Well, Dave, people have a lot of what we call dysfunctional beliefs. Anybody gets, Anybody stuck? Anybody in the audience stuck on something? I think we get, I get stuck all the time. Designers choose to work on things they've never done before. Everyday we have a new problem, so we get stuck. But these dysfunctional beliefs are ways in which-- So, the society or the big meta narrative have taught us something that just isn't true and it's not useful. One of the big ones that we're not fond of is the question, "What's your passion?" How many people have been asked, "What's your passion," in the last week? Here's the deal. We come from Stanford and we like evidence based stuff. We can't just make things up. You know, we're a research university, so you gotta have some data. The data on this from our colleagues over at the Center for the Study of Adolescents are that only about 20 percent of people surveyed have one identifiable passion or thing that organizes their lives. Most people, when we talk to them, say, "I've got five things I'm excited about." Or, "I don't have one thing that's driving me." And also it's true that the research shows that passions kind of an end product. It's the thing you end up discovering by working hard on something and then you discover, "Hey, this is really my thing." So this is, as a starting point-- If you have a passion, that's fantastic. If you always knew you wanted to be a doctor since you were two and now you're a surgeon, fantastic. You can still re-design your life and be a better surgeon. But this passion thing leaves eight out of 10 people out of a conversation and that's a bad place to start. Another dysfunctional belief, and this is one that's pretty, pretty common in our society is, "You know, you should know what you're doing by now." And if you don't know what you're doing by now, you're late. And I don't know what the "by now" is. In my generation, I'm 59, it was sort of by 25, you better have it, maybe have a relationship, maybe get married, maybe have started your career. My students, my millennial students are like, "Oh, 30. 30, that's the time." Because 30 seems so far from where they are. But there's a voice in your head that's said that by some time if you didn't have it figured out, life figured out, a relationship, a career, the meaning of your life, if it wasn't figured out by that time you were now late. Well that's a ridiculous belief because we know from some of the really long, longitudinal studies of people that most people don't actually even fully form their adult self until their mid 30's, sometimes until their 40's. And that you get to re-invent that self over and over again. There's not just one version of you anyway. So this notion that you're late, which puts this whole set of guilt, "what did I do wrong," it's completely dysfunctional. So, we wanna blow up both of those myths. The passion myth and the "you're late" myth because life is not a problem to be solved. You can't solve your life. Life's an adventure. We want to reframe this. Our big reframe here is gonna be that it's an adventure and don't get stuck trying to solve it. Let's design some things that help you move forward. Design your life rather than trying to solve this problem that you don't even have.

Class Materials

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Designing Your Life Homework
Designing Your Life Worksheets

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Impact Module Worksheet

Ratings and Reviews


A fantastic class for someone seeking to optimize their life for a greater sense of satisfaction and especially for someone who is considering a career transition. We are taught effective methods for brainstorming, examining, and prototyping our options, and we are given an approach for the hardest task of all: how to make a choice when faced with multiple good options! Also great tips for networking and getting your foot in the door. This class was very timely for me as I've been struggling with making a decision on what my next career was going to be. I now feel equipped with tools that will help me make that decision with less agony and more fun! Also, I'm a huge fan of design thinking, so it was great to see how that methodology could be applied to making one of the most important decisions in our life.

Karen Vitto

Great course! Great for who like me is on their 30's starting life in a new country with a new language and have been out of the industry for 4 years. Designing new goals, making new networking and starting a MBA for some updates on my carrear. Really helped with some focus. Super recommend!


Loved this class! It was high energy, fast paced and well organized, as well as inspiring. It helped me to make more concrete things I've been thinking and dreaming about. I'm so glad I took it. I made great contacts and will definitely use this material in the future!

Student Work