Do you have a friend that lights up your day, no matter what’s going on?  She is so excited about life that you end up on the phone for a lost hour?  This type of friend makes you feel like you get a virtual hug when you talk with them.

My person is Cathy Chenoweth Onion.  I’m lucky enough to have her in my life since the “Big 80s” and together we’ve laughed, presented workshops, expressed frustrations, reminisced about fun people, and shared “must read” books over our many years together. This time around, instead of just sharing great books, we’ve decided to create a book club, made up of just the two of us.

We’re reading Bill Burnett & Dave Evan’s book, “Designing Your Life:  How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.”  Both authors are design educators in Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.  I feel like I’m taking a Stanford pass/fail class right here in the heart of Indiana.  Fortunately for both of us, we’re both happy in our work but as friends our age are beginning to retire, we can’t help but think, “What’s next?”

If you like self-help books and goal-setting tools, this book is a great resource.  Each chapter has great information but, in my opinion, the most useful nudges come from the chapter-ending assignments designed to get the reader to reflect on current realities.   We’re examining our work environment, our joys, as well as our sources of boredom/frustration.

It has made me think of the level of energy some of my responsibilities bring, and how engaged I’m feeling when working in “flow.”  Have you ever had the feeling when all of a sudden you look up from your work and realize an hour just rushed by but felt like 5 minutes?  That’s flow, when you truly are having fun mentally and emotionally in work.

I’ve read several books like this before, but the chapter assignment to log all of my daily experiences for three weeks was especially challenging.  No glossing over this assignment like I’ve done with similar books, many times before.  I’m only in week one and so far, there aren’t any major themes or issues to pay attention to. That’ll probably change soon.

Burnett & Evans also offered the AEIOU Framework that was developed by Dev Patnaik, Needfinding:  Design Research and Planning (Amazon’s CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).  This acronym will get you to think about other elements in your work such as: Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects, and Users

What have been your go-to books for personal growth and professional development?

What are your most influential elements from the AEIOU framework?