Welcome to the website of our book "Life Design", where we show how you can bring more of yourself into your life with the help of the innovation method design thinking, with positive psychology, with behavioral economics and with knowledge visualization.
The book is based on scientific knowledge and our experience from working with hundreds of participants in workshops and lectures and working with organizations such as the United Nations, the advertising agency Jung von Matt, the Swiss stock exchange, McKinsey & Company, ETH Zurich and the African Doctoral Academy in South Africa.
The book is theory-based but very practice-oriented, according to the motto of the University of St. Gallen “From Insight to Impact”. Numerous methods help you to shape a future with more meaningfulness, more satisfaction and ultimately more of yourself in your own life.
In addition, you will find other life workshops, such as Design Your Sleep, Design Your Retirement, Design Your Sabbatical and Life Design for young people. In small boxes you will get an insight into the life design of an astronaut, how you can be a circus director, farmer or interior designer for a day and why passion is not always a guarantee for great activities.
On this website you will also find the Life-Loops model and the Life Design principles free of charge as a template for downloading and printing, selected methods as templates and a lot of inspiration through examples of new prototypes in the (work) world, such as the return ships at Ikea, the internship 4.0 in start-ups and the career lunch.
Feel free to contact us if you are interested in working with us or if you want to purchase many books. Some organizations buy 1000 books and more, receive 30% and their own logo on the cover as a special edition, ideal for employees, as a Christmas present or other campaigns.
The Life Loops Model brings together the 8 most important phases to bring more of yourself into your own life. The left side of the model is about discovering what is behind our challenges and desires. The right-hand side is about putting initial ideas into practice to learn from them and to enable further loops. Each loop corresponds to a learning cycle that supports and fuels our self-efficacy.
At the transitions between the left and right areas of the model, there are two relevant gaps, which are also known in science as the “knowing-doing gap” or “intention-action gap”.
For example, I know my intentions and plans, but I cannot really put these thoughts into practice. This applies both to the moment when we want to implement ideas (in the model from left to right) and when we want to draw new conclusions for further ideas from what we have learned and stick to it (in the model back from right to left).
You can download the model as a template and print it out as a small or large poster.
As part of our work at the Life Design Lab at the University of St. Gallen, we have compiled the following principles from the workshops over the past few years and substantiated them scientifically in the book. In the book you will find three (anti) life design stories that show the principles in action.
We were able to find out that many of the principles deliver added value far beyond life design. For example, a manager at the Swiss stock exchange told us that when solving problems, he now pays more attention to it, persists less in dichotomous (either-or) thinking and thinks more multi-optional. A Swiss advertising agency has firmly anchored the topic of appreciation and curiosity in its core values with the three words “Tell me more ...”.
Which principle or principles could be central to you and your life?
We have put together several methods for each of the eight phases of the Life Loops model. Using a method, we explain the basics of each phase in our book.
In addition, you will find other methods such as the wheel of fortune of problem formulation, how to design your own mascot or what you can learn from Hollywood about good feedback.
In the course of time, through the cooperation with participants in workshops, with organizations and international collaborations, some key topics have emerged, which we have compiled in the context of the life workshop.
We highlight, among other things, topics such as "Design Your Sleep", "Design Your Energy", or how you can use "Design Your Space" to determine your own action-places, in which you can move from thinking and talking to action, how you can redesign your relationship to your smartphone and human-beings, how to be more engaged at work, or how to design sabbaticals and retirement with “Design Your Sabbatical” and “Design Your Retirement”.
Astronauts are very special life designers, because they have to prepare their time in space as well as anticipate what could happen. One of them was Scott Kelly, who spent a lot of time in a Soyuz rocket simulator. He lived on the International Space Station ISS for almost a year and recorded his experiences in the book "Endurance". He knows how to live in isolation. Here are six of his tips:
1. Follow a schedule: Even if your time on planet earth is not as strictly timed as the time in space, it can be helpful to organize yourself and to follow a routine. For example, practice designing your morning or work routine and structuring your day. Redesigning your morning routine is part of the book.
2. Set your own pace: Work can take over and set the pace pretty quickly. Therefore, consciously take breaks and take your time to have fun, as weird as that may sound. Scott Kelly watched the entire Game of Thrones series twice during his time in space. And he swears by regular bedtime. NASA scientists study the sleep of astronauts very carefully while they are in space. They found that the quality of sleep has a huge impact on thinking skills, emotional mood, and interpersonal relationships. So shape your energy consciously, including enough sleep and draw new energy from enjoyment, exchange and fun. Design Your Energy by mapping your personal energy curve based on your chronotyp as well as mapping your energy givers and energy suckers is part of the book.
3. Go out: Scott Kelly missed nature, the sun on his face, the smell so much that his supposedly little flower experiment became very central to him, during which he grew the first flower in space, a zinnia . He would often hear the sounds of birds and trees in the wind from his MP3 player to take himself back to the world. Various studies show that being in nature has a positive effect on our mental and physical health. In the low times of your energy curve, you can go outside particularly well and recharge your batteries.
You will find three more tips from astronaut Scott Kelly in the book on pages 182/183, order now here:
We were able to find out that life design can also provide significant added value in organizations.
Be it as a classic career development or career adjustment enabler, as part of the development of executives with programs such as “Design My Future” at the Swiss stock exchange, for creative problem solving and an agile attitude, with diversity and inclusion as well as new forms of cooperation.
In addition, new formats for trying out and experimenting in organizations show that life design can contribute to the future of work by optimizing the fit between employee and employer.
New formats include Returnships at Ikea, Johnson & Johnson and others, internships for senior employees in start-ups, shadowing models and new models of getting to know each other.
The aim of this book and the Life Design Lab is, among other things, in the realm of the future of work, to legitimize and establish trying out and experimenting beyond the “trial days” for adolescents and young adults into the (work) world. If you know, do or have heard of other new formats for trying out and experimenting, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kayvan Kian is employed as a consultant at the management consultancy McKinsey & Company. As part of his consulting mandates, he noted personal challenges, particularly with his younger clients, such as to find the right way of dealing with enormous pressure or a sustainable work-life balance. The initially informal conversations grew longer and longer, so Kayvan saw a real need.
He would now have had the opportunity to write an official offer for new counseling offers and to wait for a lengthy decision process with the assumption that there may be a need for personal development and dealing with stress in young executives with their clients. However, Kayvan wanted to turn his findings into reality faster and create real experiences in the sense of a life designer in order to check his assumptions.
So it came about that he started a 2-day workshop as a small experiment, to which he invited young executives among his customers with the idea of an exchange on personal issues, dealing with pressure and other challenges. At that time there was no name for the workshop and no presentation slides. There was only an initial agenda that was later developed.
The workshop was a complete success. The young executives appreciated the personal exchange on topics that they had to deal with on a daily basis, as well as the practical tools that they could use immediately. The first test was successful and confirmed Kayvan's idea that there was a need for this format. He continued testing and asked participants what they really remembered about the workshop. He documented the most resonant methods, gave them to his customers to read and observed their reactions, i.e. whether they understood them, were enthusiastic or were puzzled.
Through these different forms of experimentation and the iterative further development, the small experiment of a single workshop was then passed on to other countries. The workshop concept was further developed in such a way that there are now additional formats (in addition to the focus on personal challenges, challenges in the organization or society and the integration of different world views of problems).
The workshops now have a name and are called the “Young Leader Forum”. A book has emerged from this with the title “What Is Water? How Young Leaders Can Thrive in an Uncertain World ”. We find this an inspiring example of how an idea can lead to an experiment that, through incremental development and testing, becomes a forum in its own right. However, it also shows how Kayvan was able to bring more of himself into his work life.
The life loops model and the 8 life design principles are available for download below while the other templates of our book are available in German only for now. Stay tuned to be first to know when the English templates are available by signing up to our newsletter here: