Book Review for Designing Your Life

This week, I read "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. These two Stanford professors discuss the course that they teach on lifestyle design and guide you through the process that they have used for thousands of their students.

I enjoyed this read and they had some crucial take aways, both for individuals and larger groups. 

In the Chapter 3, the authors write "Work is fun when you're actually leaning into your strengths and you are deeply engaged and energized by what you are doing". I feel this in the core of my being and this sentiment has been a driving force behind my decision to pursue my current career. 

If you don't know about me, I left the high-speed churn of fee-for-service medicine for more meaningful and fulfilling relationship-based medicine. Plum Health is a membership model for healthcare and I routinely spend about 1 hour with each of my patients, especially during their first visit. 

As this is a new business (as of November 2016), I still work at an urgent care two days each week to pay my bills and keep my business finances separate from my personal finances. When I'm working at the urgent care, I feel drained of energy with a mental fog. It's hard for me to "lean in" to this type of work environment where patients are shuffled in and out of the office as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon to have 40 - 50 patient interactions each day at the urgent care.

Compared to my work with Plum Health, where my visits last an hour and I have roughly 2 - 5 visits per day, I am able to fully engage with my patients and lean in to the work. I leave this environment energized after learning more about the people that I take care of. I also experience joy from time to time when the care that I deliver is especially meaningful or beneficial for the people in my clinic. 

In Chapter 11, the authors discuss the importance of working and collaborating with others. They state, "We design our lives in collaboration and connection with others, because 'we' is always stronger than 'I'". They go on to relate the following: "Life design is intrinsically a communal effort. When you are way finding a step or two at a time to build, not solve, your way forward, the process has to rely on the contribution and participation of others."

This passage reminded me of the environment that I experienced while taking the Build Institute's course entitled "Co-Starters". It was awesome working in a collaborative setting, with a group of entrepreneurs working through similar but different problems. I learned a great deal from these classmates and it helped me to clarify several parts of my Life Design.  

Later in Chapter 11, the authors discuss the importance of a community, and they define a community in this way: "community is more than just sharing resources or hanging out now and then, it's showing up and investing in the ongoing creation of one another's lives". It must have kindred purpose, and the best communities have a shared goal or mission. These groups should also meet regularly, so that an ongoing conversation can be held among members.

I see the TechTown, Build Institute, and Bamboo organizations facilitating a healthy community environment for small businesses and entrepreneurship in Detroit. Being a part of these organizations and attending the different programming put on by these groups has definitely added value to my life and the development of my business. 

Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book or the topics discussed in the book. Again, the book is called "Designing Your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC