Designing Your Life

Summers always present wonderful opportunities to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next.  For me, they are a period of rejuvenation and reassessment.

I find that each summer I spend some time designing my life and thinking about my own professional formation.

This summer, my reading list has included two books that I consider life-changing, The Four Desires by Rod Stryker (referred to me by Jean Koh Peters, Yale Law School) and Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (referred by Doni Gewirtzman, NYLS).  While the authors come to the topic from vastly different perspectives, Styker is a yogi and Burnett and Evans teach design thinking at Stanford’s dSchool, the two books contain similar messages and suggest similar practices.  The clear message from both books is about actively creating a life that you design and desire for yourself so that you live a life that is authentic to you.  How simple, yet powerful, that message can be.  Especially for lawyers and law students.

To access the authentic self, both books suggest engaging in the process of listening to our unconscious selves so that we can get in touch with and identify the true purpose of our lives; the things that truly motivate us and bring us joy and happiness.  Once we have access to that information – which we can access through meditation and journaling (Stryker) or recording daily activities and reflection (Burnett and Evans) — the next step is to decode the information and use it to design a new way forward.  The books also recognize and help the reader to identify sources of resistance (both internal and external) and how they may impact your ability to advance in new directions.  Once you have this data, the next step is the process of redesigning your life – using exercises such as mind mapping, mindfulness, letting go of preconceptions, visualization, journaling and reflection.

This process takes time and lots of focus.  Indeed, I see it as a methodology for a life-long process of iteration and life improvement.

Luckily, I was able to do much of the hard work over three days at the beginning of the summer.  When Jean recommended the Stryker book, she also noted that he conducts workshops on the Four Desires.  As fate would have it, I learned that Stryker was going to be at the Himalayan Institute, which is less than a 3-hour drive from my home in Pennsylvania, in early June and that openings remained in the workshop.  So, I was fortunate to enroll in Stryker’s Four Desires Workshop last month.  While it has only been a month, I already see a change in my life. And others notice it too.

It is never too late to redesign your life.  I recommend you start this summer.  If you do, please let me know how it goes for you.

My hope is to be able to share this methodology with my students as well.  Once I have more data on the results in my own life, I plan to share the process with my students.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the next generation of law students to graduate with a methodology for designing an authentic life for themselves.  Stay tuned!



One Response

  1. Hey, I came across your blog and I found it very useful. Thx

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