Welcome back to another post! On today’s menu you can find something we are all going through but rarely talk about it - the future. Designing Your Life is a book that should be a required read in schools, in my opinion!
Everybody goes through the feeling of being lost at some point in life, and very often that happens more than once, and that is completely normal. First of all, we change as we get older. Think about the person you were 5 years ago? Would this person make the same choices as the person you are today? Probably not. I certainly wouldn’t. Being on a crossroad of your life, right after you have finished your university or later on when you have already worked for a decade and then you realize the job you have is not what you actually want to do, happens all the time! I can’t really speak from the point of view of the person working for a decade on a wrong position, but I can say that I have changed my university and right now I’m in the position of thinking about which way I should go after I have just got the degree I really wanted.
As I keep meeting people from all around the world, I know that schooling system is not the same everywhere, so I will explain a bit how it works back at home. Right after you finish high-school, at the age 18,19 you go into university. I started school one year earlier, so I have just turned 18 when I finished high-school. I never really thought what I want to do in my life, but I knew I like design, I like art, and since there are not so many cool options in Belgrade, I decided to go into Architecture university. I spent one year, the last year of high-school, preparing for the entrance exam, having classes every weekend for several hours. Now when I think about it, I should’ve known that was the wrong way, but you never really think of these things when you are 18 and have no clue what you’re good at and what is something that makes you feel fulfilled. Also, back at home is not so common that people make a break between high-school and university, it is somehow expected that you know everything about your future. I got in, I started, and at the beginning I did like it, but I only liked some of the courses, and I am very known for studying only for the subjects I like.. After a while I realized I actually only like art courses and the courses where we build models, and I really did not like any kind of engineering courses, and those ones are very important, if not the most important. To fast forward it a bit, I realized that I really enjoy taking photographs and creating something with using my camera. Also, I really loved making people happy after seeing the results of the photos I took of them. I decided to quit architecture and to try to figure out the next step of my life. Studying photography, as I did in Berlin, is not really possible back at home, also this thought of “photography is just a hobby” was all around me. After doing a short course in photography and graphic design, and volunteering as a photographer numerous times for many different purposes I made a decision to find where can I pursue my new dream. It wasn’t all so easy, but I made it! And now few years later I do have this degree that I wanted so much and it makes me feel really proud of myself! One additional thought, I am not quite sure if it is the best way to let 18y old kids decide about their future, also if you find yourself in a university that after 2 years you realize it’s not the right one, change it! Forget what everybody around you say and do it, it is your life after all!
So now that I am holding this degree in my hands I am again in a position of thinking about the future. There are so many possibilities and ways I could go but which one is the “right” one or the one that will make me happy, and is there just one or I can do more different ones? This is where the book I will present to you today really helped!
The book is called Designing Your Life - Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step. The authors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, divided the book in many chapters and each one of them is the next step, so the book is sort of leading you through the process of designing the life for you. What I really enjoyed is that almost every chapter ends with an exercise that you should do to help you find your path. Even though the process requires a lot of thinking (which is very good for your brain!) the book is pretty easy to read and understand. When you have to design something, or think of the concept, you always start with brainstorming and mind maps, so the authors of the books suggest that you do the same when you design your own life. Asking for help and talking to people that do what you might be interested in is one of the ways of getting more information on the job and seeing if that is something you would enjoy doing or not, and this kind of interaction also brings you contacts and helps you build a network of people that you would work or collaborate with in the future. Before you start building your network, try coming up with massive amount of ideas, as mind maps should be about quantity and not quality. Empty your brain, put on a paper everything that comes to your mind, and then slowly curate multiple possibilities. Wild ideas are very welcome in this situation!