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更新时间:2016-9-22 10:32:33 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Want to Find Fulfillment at Last? Think Like a Designer

STANFORD, CALIF. — Take out your flow journals. We’re going to talk about flow moments.


You’re going to learn how to find a fulfilling career. You’re going to learn how to better navigate life’s big-moment decisions and kill your “wicked problems” dead.


How? By training yourself to think like a designer.


That, anyway, is the premise of “Designing Your Life,” a class taught at Stanford University (the school’s “most popular class,” according to Fast Company magazine) as well as the just-published book that grew out of it, “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” (Knopf).

至少,这便是斯坦福大学教授的《设计人生》课程(根据《快公司》杂志[Fast Company]的报道,它是该校“最热门的课程”)给出的前提。脱胎于这门课的新书《设计人生:如何打造美好快乐生活》(Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life,Knopf出版社)也是这么说的。

The two men who created the class and wrote the book are Silicon Valley veterans, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. They believe they have hit upon a system to help you deal with almost any challenge.

开设这门课并著书立说的是曾经在硅谷打拼的比尔·伯内特(Bill Burnett)与戴夫·埃文斯(Dave Evans)。两人相信,他们无意间找到了能帮助大家应对几乎所有挑战的办法。

“How do you find the one to love — we don’t do that,” Mr. Burnett said. “We also don’t give advice on weight loss.”


But everything else? The two professors claim that you can design an amazing life in the same way that Jonathan Ive designed the iPhone. They say the practices taught in the class and the book can help you (in designing-your-life-speak) “reframe” dysfunctional beliefs that surround life and career decisions and help you “wayfind” in a chaotic world through the adoption of such design tenets as bias-for-action, prototyping and team-building.

至于其他事情呢?两位教授宣称能按照乔纳森·艾夫(Jonathan Ive)设计iPhone的方式来设计美妙人生。他们表示,课上和书中传授的办法可以帮助大家(从设计人生的角度来说)“重新定义”困扰着人生与职业决策的无用信念,通过崇尚行动、原型设计、团队建设等设计界的信条,协助你在纷乱的世界中“找到路径”。

After nine years of teaching their secrets to future Google product managers and start-up wunderkinds, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans are opening up the curriculum to everyone. “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and “Am I living a meaningful life?” aren’t only subjects for late-night pot-fueled dorm hangouts, the men said.


“The question of ‘What do I do with the rest of my one wild and wonderful life?’ is on everyone’s mind,” Mr. Evans said.


Mr. Burnett recalled a conversation with Stanford’s dean of the engineering department, who was about to retire. “He said: ‘Can I take your class? Because I don’t know what I’m going to be now that I’m not the dean anymore.’”


Mr. Burnett added: “One of the meta-narratives out there is that you should figure it out by 25, or maybe it’s 27 now. Then there’s the other thing of failure to launch, that millennials are slackers. Part of the permission we give people is: Reframe this. You’re not supposed to have it figured out.”


Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans looked on as the roughly 50 Stanford students in their charge took out and read from their flow journals. Then they broke the class into discussion groups of six or seven.


It was early May, and the students were in the final weeks of “Designing Your Life.” Standing in the front of the room, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans began to make their way through a PowerPoint presentation.


“When did you seem the most animated, the most present?” Mr. Burnett said, by way of guiding the discussion groups.


Silviana Ilcus, an art history major who had completed more than 230 units at Stanford without having arrived at a firm idea of what she wanted to with her life, addressed the other members of her group.

艺术史专业的学生西尔维娅娜·伊尔库斯(Silviana Ilcus)在斯坦福完成了逾230个学分,却还没有打定主意自己想要怎样的人生。她在同组其他成员面前讲了话。

“I don’t have flow when I’m doing art history,” Ms. Ilcus said. “I hate writing.” The others listened patiently. “My flow was doing math,” she said, seeming to have a light-bulb moment in real time. “I’m wondering why it didn’t guide my choice of major.”


Sitting at an outdoor campus food court after class, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans nodded in recognition after hearing of the exchange. “The course surfaces stuff that people haven’t worked through yet, almost universally,” Mr. Evans said.


Mr. Burnett said, “It’s a place to have this conversation, because nobody is asking them these questions, and they’re not asking themselves.”


College students are promising empty vessels, as yet unburdened by the trade-offs and compromises that keep the rest of us up at night — say, hating your corporate job but loving the house it pays for, or wanting to fulfill your dream of backpacking across Europe with two young children in school. To make “Designing Your Life” workable for people in midcareer, the professors had to do their own reframe of the curriculum.


The book includes things that are not in the class, like what Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans call “anchor problems” — overcommitted life choices that keep people stuck and unhappy. A common mistake that people make, they said, is to assume that there’s only one right solution or optimal version of your life, and that if you choose wrong, you’ve blown it.


That’s completely absurd, Mr. Evans said: “There are lots of you. There are lots of right answers.”


As self-actualization messengers, the two men are an odd couple. Mr. Burnett, 59, is a self-contained, acerbic, existential atheist with an earring, while Mr. Evans, 63, is an outgoing, verbose, practicing Christian with the gray beard of a philosopher.


Both are Stanford grads, and while they have accomplished résumés (Mr. Burnett helped to design the original “Star Wars” toys and worked at Apple before becoming executive director of Stanford’s design program; Mr. Evans also worked at Apple and co-founded Electronic Arts, the game company), each said his younger self would have been well served by the course.

两人都毕业于斯坦福,都有漂亮的履历(伯内特在成为斯坦福的设计项目执行总监之前,曾经参与设计过最早的《星球大战》[Star Wars]玩具,还在苹果公司工作过;埃文斯也在苹果工作过,还是电子游戏公司艺电[Electronic Arts]的联合创始人之一),但他们都说,假如自己年轻时上过这门课,将会获益良多。

For his part, Mr. Evans struggled as a biology student, a major he chose because he had watched a Jacques Cousteau television special as a boy, and one he clung to because, he said, “I don’t think I had conscious permission to not know what I was doing.”

埃文斯说,他曾经努力成为一个生物系学生,他选择这门专业是因为小时候看过雅克·库斯托(Jacques Cousteau)的电视特别节目,后来坚持这个专业则是因为“我觉得当时的我无法清醒地意识到自己其实并不知道自己正在做什么”。

He switched to mechanical engineering and graduated with a master’s degree in the mid-’70s. But when an Apple recruiter called, he initially hung up, because he was bored by computers. In doing so, Mr. Evans said ruefully, he violated several principles of “Designing Your Life,” among them staying open to “latent wonderfulness.”


“If you’re wrong, you go: ‘Oh, computers are boring. O.K., I’m going home now,’” Mr. Evans explained. “ ‘Yes’ is easy. ‘No’ is hard to come back from.”


Mr. Burnett had an easier time on the surface, finding his way to the design program at Stanford and a lifelong vocation. Through a professor mentor, he landed a job as a toy designer and went on to greater success.


But, he said: “My method was a blind walk. I didn’t have any strategies. I trusted my intuition, but I worried that I didn’t know what I was doing.”


Before joining forces, they hashed out the concepts they had been developing over a two-pitcher lunch at a Portola Valley beer garden then known as Zott’s (short for Rissotti’s; it is now called the Alpine Inn), using their life experiences as grist for the curriculum.

两人合作这个计划之前,曾经在波托拉谷名叫Zott’s(Rissotti’s的缩写,如今名叫Alpine Inn)的啤酒花园就着两扎啤酒吃午餐时详细讨论过相关概念,他们想使用自己的人生经验,作为这项课程的素材。

In a place like Stanford, where yearly in-state tuition is about $50,000, they thought it was worthwhile to send students into the world with practical knowledge about how to find a fulfilling job and excel at it.


They began holding workshops for adults a few years ago, including for the employees of Google. The workshop and the book are an effort to take their approach beyond its cloistered campus setting.


As Mr. Evans put it, “We’re trying to give this thing away.”


If you can get past the jargon-heavy language and Silicon Valley preciousness, many of the principles of “Designing Your Life” are, in fact, helpful. Design thinking, as rendered in the book, is about treating life in a more improvisational way. It’s a welcome counterbalance to the data-driven, engineering mind-set gripping the culture.


Follow Mr. Burnett’s and Mr. Evans’s teachings, and the anxiety-ridden process of decision making suddenly seems more playful. Their method is experiential and accepts that failure is part of the process.


Central to the philosophy is prototyping, a concept borrowed from how product designers work. Let’s say you’re thinking of changing careers. Interview someone who does the job you’re considering. Better yet, ask to shadow them for a day, or work in the field on weekends. If it feels right, take it a step further; if it doesn’t, move on.


“It’s a classic form of design,” Mr. Burnett said. “You build a lot of stuff, you try a lot of stuff. But it’s always less than the whole product.”


Prototyping big decisions like a career change or a move, meanwhile, guards against blowing up your life to rush headlong into the alluring unknown, or worse, taking no action for years, unhappily.


Emma Wood, a 25-year-old Stanford graduate and a consultant at McKinsey & Company who took “Designing Your Life” as an undergraduate, said the class released the pressure she felt about the life she would face after graduation.

25岁的斯坦福毕业生、麦肯锡公司(McKinsey & Company)顾问爱玛·伍德(Emma Wood)在读本科时上过《设计人生》这门课,她说,这门课帮助她释放了面对毕业生活时所感到的压力。

“Your whole future and happiness aren’t tied to this one plan working out,” she said. “You can make mistakes. Failure is good.”


The capstone of the Stanford class, and a key part of the book, is an assignment to come up with three “Odyssey Plans” that map out the next five years of your life in radically different ways.


The activity is designed to reinforce the sense of multiple viable options, unlock the imagination and eliminate the attractive power of the unknown alternative.


Lingtong Sun, who graduated from Stanford last year, said he continues to use the “Odyssey Plan” and other concepts from the class to decide his long-term career.

去年毕业于斯坦福的孙灵通(Lingtong Sun,音)说,他仍在继续使用“奥德赛方案”以及这门课上的其他概念,来规划自己的长期事业生涯。

“On the grand level, I haven’t figured out what I want to do yet,” said Mr. Sun, who works as a software engineer for a tech start-up in the Bay Area. “But I’m more open to trying something and seeing how it goes. It’s that bias toward action. You can’t think your way into your future.”


Breaking down the system to its basic parts, as a designer would, Mr. Evans said, “There are only two things we offer in the class: ideas and tools.”


He added, “If you think with these ideas rather than the ones you had before, and you use these tools, we believe your chance of building and getting what you want will go up.”