Latest Update: 27 January 2019. Note to reader: this page is a work in progress.
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanityHorace Mann
Defining one’s life goals is a difficult endeavor. Given the propensity of humans to be temporally myopic (read: shortsighted), specifying a certain set of guidelines or principles to follow for decades can be irresponsible, reckless, or, worse still, detrimental.
Nevertheless, life goals provide a framework around which one can structure long-term plans as well as day-to-day routines, imparting meaning to an existence otherwise devoid of inherent purpose.
I first delineated these goals at the age of twenty, keeping them purposely vague, while still allowing them to form the raison d’être for my life. They have changed little in that time.
Life Goal #1: Achieve and Maintain Superb Physical Fitness
Life is a sport. Make it count.
Our bodies, unquestionably, were designed to run, jump, hide, seek, hunt, and gather. Only in the modern world has a sedentary lifestyle become a viable strategy for survival. (Sitting at a desk, in many cases, earns more money than hard labor.)
I aim to skirt those global trends and instead embrace the natural physical capabilities of my body.
Aligned with this life goal are smaller goals, which include
- Becoming a fifty-stater (run a marathon in every state)
- Complete an Iron Man triathalon
- Run a sub-5:00 mile
- Perform 50 pull-ups consecutively
- Perform 100 push-ups consecutively
Life Goal #2: Acquire, Maintain, and Utilize an Eclectic Repository of Knowledge
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.Mahatma Gandhi
In addition to possessing bodies capable of performing a range of physical feats, the vast majority of human beings possess a degree of intelligence and consciousness found nowhere else in the natural world.
Emerging research within neuroscience, psychology, and biology points to the enduring plasticity and neurogenesis of our brains. That is to say, you can teach an old dog new tricks. (What’s more, Life Goal #1 has a synergistically effect on this goal– see the Wikipedia entry on the neurobiological effects of physical exercise for more.)
In hopes of using my neurons for all they’re worth as well as forestalling the progression of dementia, I’ve taken the initiative to ensure I possess such an eclectic repository of knowledge within my memory stores. These measures include
- teaching courses on scientific material (such as MCAT prep)
- creating analytical pieces of writing (such as posts on this blog)
- reviewing previously learned content through an active recall mechanism using a spaced repetition algorithm within Anki.
Other goals that comprise this broader aim include:
- Reading at least 25 books per year
- Competing on Jeopardy! or a similar quiz-based show
- Become an expert in chess
- Meditate on a daily basis
Life Goal #3: Alleviate the Suffering of Other Human Beings and Animals
Only a life lived in service to others is a life worth livingAlbert Einstein
Life Goal #4: Alleviate the Suffering of the Environment
“Mister!” he said with a sawdusty sneeze. “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”Dr. Seuss
Life Goal #5: Raise and Provide for a Family
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through loveCarl Sagan
In spite of my words above about “an existence otherwise devoid of inherent meaning,” I believe that the sole evolutionary purpose a human being can ascribe to their life is procreation. That is, we are meant to give rise to offspring.
Among virtually all species of life there are two core, guiding instincts for survival and for the promulgation of one’s genes.
Besides the fulfillment of this deep evolutionary drive, I also take great pleasure in the idea that I will be able to pass down my values and ideas to another generation.