Dave Evans teaches Designing Your Life, an open enrollment class at Stanford and one of the most popular electives on campus, and co-authored the New York Times bestseller Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life.
The “design thinking” methodology taught in the class and book is a process and a way of thinking about tough-to-solve problems, rooted in the principles of product design that Dave used while building products (like the original computer mouse) at companies like Apple and Electronic Arts.
Designing Your Life is a class unlike any other, and in a way that’s a shame – because there aren’t a lot of places where young people can talk about and learn about designing the life they want, but there should be.
It’s not exactly a complex philosophy, but it flies in the face of how most people solve problems, in any area of their life.
Most people tend to start with problem solving – however, in design thinking, you start with problem finding. The problem with traditional problem solving is that we tend to frame problems with an answer or a situation, and your assumed answer may be a bad answer or the situation may be entirely unavoidable (like gravity).
This is just one of the dysfunctional beliefs rampant in our society; a collection of popular Shoulds and Ought Tos that don’t actually contribute to much of anything. As Dave playfully describes, “There are really many fewer rules than they tell you. If you can stay out of addiction, jail, or trouble with the the IRS – you’re paying your bills, you’re not violating the law – the rest is actually up to you.”
It all comes down to one question: Do you live in the land of Is or the land of Should?
Designing Your Life starts with is – because the only place you can develop anything is reality.
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