Three days ago, I entered the 27th year of this amazing Navy journey (31st if we were to consider my time at the US Naval Academy). That milestone, coupled with the fact that I am seeing my Shipmates retire at an increased rate, certainly has grabbed my attention. Not sure what’s next for me, but absolutely certain it is time to more deliberately prepare for the inevitable transition. One of my friends who is in the midst of transition gave me the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, which benefitted him a great deal. It most certainly continues to give me a great deal to think about it, and the timing was perfect as I spent last week attending a Think Wrong course on design thinking. Where a traditional approach focuses on solving problems and finding answers, the foundation of both the book and the course flips the script and can be summed up as framing challenges and asking questions. And that is exactly where I am in this transitional journey: framing the future, and full of questions about the journey ahead. A journey that may include a few more tours in the Navy, and most certainly, will include days spent aligned with both my work-view and life-view. Those two terms were new to me until I read the book, and true to form, they are best explained through questions.

Our work-view addresses:

  • Why work?
  • What’s work for?
  • What does work mean?
  • How does it relate to the individual, others, society?
  • What defines good or worthwhile work?
  • What does money have to do with it?
  • What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?

Our life-view addresses:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is the meaning or purpose of life?
  • What is the relationship between the individual and others?
  • Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in?
  • What is good and what is evil?
  • What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life?

I answered all of those questions and then some. It was an extremely healthy drill, and generally speaking, my views are well aligned and have been for a long time. I was also reminded that my work-life drives my happiness in my overall life. The real challenge was not in forecasting the future as much as it was acknowledging the present. Before even pondering those questions, readers are asked to create a Health – Work – Play – Love Dashboard. Just as it sounds, it’s a drill that forces an assessment of how full our tank is in reach regard. This was sobering for me. Long story short; I am far from full in all four categories, and these days, I am near empty when it comes to Play. I have allowed it to happen over the years as it’s largely a result of being so fortunate to love what I do that I see it as play. And when the work is gone, we have forgotten how to play. I don’t regret the emptiness of my Play Tank, but I most certainly will be filling it more deliberately with things that can’t be confused with work.

My favorite quote from the book is, “Designers don’t agonize. They don’t dream about what could have been. They don’t spin their wheels. And they don’t waste their futures by hoping for a better past. Life designers see the adventure in whatever life they are currently building and living into.” I continue to build an amazing past and remain committed to designing a future that ensures that each tank is full; when choosing between a gallon of play and a gallon of work, you won’t find me in the office. At least not anymore.

  • How are you going about designing your life?
  • What does your Health – Work – Play – Love Dashboard look like?
  • How aligned are your work-view and life-view?