Experiment Your Way to Happiness

Experiment Your Way to Happiness
Conventional wisdom once was that if you wanted to be successful, you should run your life the way a CEO manages a large corporation. This meant that you would appoint a Board of Directors (even if imaginary), write and adhere to a Mission Statement, divide your life into Departments ie “Family,” “Career,” “Health,” “Spirituality,” etc. And of course if you are thinking like a CEO, you should learn how to delegate items that are either a waste of your precious time or out of your depth. The delegation part is what always got me. When I was a stay-at-home mom with small children, exactly whom was I supposed to delegate to?

The metaphor of thinking of your life as a big business is ill-fitting for many and is also very outdated. Anna Akbari in her book Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness offers a fresh new perspective on how to use lessons gleaned from the current wave of entrepreneurship to improve your life.

Akbari, an entrepreneur and academic, says “taking a page out of tech startup methodologies..I realized that the entrepreneurial business approach that had worked for millions...could also work as a foundation for transforming my personal happiness and well-being. And if it worked for me, I knew it could work for other people.” Akbari’s company, Sociology of Style offers holistic image consulting and life coaching services.

The main theme winding throughout Akbari’s book is that unlike the corporate executive who already has everything in place and just needs to fine tune managing it all, if your life is a Startup, you are perpetually a work in progress or MVP aka minimum viable product. An MVP is a “bare bones” prototype. “Your life, no matter who you are, is not unlike the early Instagram prototype,” writes Akbari. “Whatever stage you’re at, you should be thinking of yourself as a prototype. But not the kind that must be incubated to perfection before it sees the light of day.”

Startup Your Life encourages readers to test out ideas, careers, clothing styles and other life elements to gather feedback prior to investing in long range life plans. “Think of this new MVP mind-set as a commitment to eliminating waste--wasted time, wasted resources, wasted energy...This also means you want to test before you invest.”

One of the things I found extremely interesting about Startup Your Life are the stories of hugely successful tech startups that inspire and convey Akbari’s key points. For example she uses Zappos to illustrate that how a business interacts with customers is as important as the products being sold. And it’s the same with your life. “Investing your time and energy in operating from an empathic perspective does more than help you win...it makes your audience feel like winners too,” writes Akbari.

Other tech start up superstars featured in the book are Netflix founder, Reed Hastings, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Jeff Bezos who founded Amazon and many more.

I found the suggestions in the book to be easily accessible and many of them are fun--like trying on different personas via clothing and an online virtual world game. “You can...redefine ‘success’ and rewrite your own rules of engagement,” states Akbari, “but not just through ticking boxes and downloading apps. Be bold. Be present. And feel the difference.”

I borrowed Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness by Anna Akbari from the local library.

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This content was written by Leah Mullen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Leah Mullen for details.