When I look at a Parsons table (designed at Parsons Paris in the 1930s) — I see a thing of great beauty.
Lines that sing.
A presence that cannot be ignored.
Legend has it, the iconic design emerged from a design class where its instructor, Jean Michael Frank, challenged students to design a table that would retain its design integrity sheathed in various materials, such as mica, burlap, etc. From Frank’s sketches and student participation came the elegant minimalist design. (Read more of its history here.)
It was the product of an inspired design moment and is a thing of beauty.
What if we could take the same engine that drove this type of creation — and apply it to our own lives?
What if you could design a life that sings for you?
I’ve spoken to countless people who are less than thrilled with their lives. Something seems off. Something isn’t working. However, the more telling question must be posed — is there something better out there for me? The authors of Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, explore the dysfunctional beliefs that stifle the answer to that vital question. The answer is likely a resounding “yes”.
But how? We are rarely offered the tools to unpack such a problem. But, that is changing.
At Stanford University, students have had the opportunity to explore their life as a design challenge, in a course named: Designing Your Life. The crux of the course involves applying design principles to build a happy, fulfilling, post-student life — prototypes and all. Initially an experiment (the brainchild of the book’s authors Bill Burnett & Dave Evans), the class became such a campus phenomenon within the engineering department — that it was then offered to all Stanford students. (The information is now being shared with other universities – from Harvard to Cal State Dominguez Hills to Trinity College, serving students across the country. That works.)
The most important element of the course is to build a life that holds meaning. What might you want to build or leave behind? That exploration is much more than money — or a job. It is about living a coherent life; congruent with whom you are.
So, this is where the book comes in. It is jam-packed with observations concerning the history of this now 10-year-old course experiment.
Interestingly, the concepts in the book are now being offered to the public in a workshop format and there is one version especially tailored to women. (See the dates below — you can still register). Course instructor Susan Burnett, describes the workshop as perfect for anyone who finds they are at an “inflection point”. Whether that is leaving college, a marriage, job or career, or just being ready to try something new. As Stanford Life Design Lab’s Kathy Davies describes, “the course for women was born from the observation that women engaged with the process with a different perspective. The workshops provide the time, space and a community of support to have those life design conversations.”
Hooray. We all require help with inflection points.
So, pick up the book or register for the course and get ready to break down that petrified view of your life — and then put it back together again.
Now do it again.
What do you see?
Click on book icon to learn more.
The Designing Your Life for Women Workshop
Overview: Designing Your Life for Women is an intensive, hands-on workshop experience where you will learn and apply the Life Design© method to your own life. We will focus on balance and energy, use ideation techniques to help get you unstuck, build Odyssey Plans for three potential futures, and define ways to prototype the compelling parts of these futures. Best of all, you will do this in a community of women who have come together with a common purpose and who will support you on this life design journey.
UPCOMING DATES: We’ll update you when we have more information.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk writes about life and career as an Influencer at LinkedIn. Her posts have also appeared at various outlets worldwide including US News & World Report, Forbes, Quartz and The World Economic Forum.