My Life Agenda

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Life can be complicated. It helps to have a plan.

If you've read much of this site, you might notice my interests are all over the place. This might get confusing. It confuses me too. I start projects left and right, usually without finishing, but all along having this hunch that they all fit together somehow. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. It's an ongoing process, and the emerging result is a map of my goals, interests, and projects.

I have three purposes for making this map:

  • To help you make sense of my projects and how they fit into my life, if that's something you care about. If you know how each project relates to my other projects and my goals, you'll feel less lost.
  • To help me plan. Knowing how my project ideas relate to my goals and circumstances helps me strategize.
  • To offer you ideas if you'd like to create your own life agenda. Maybe you can pick up helpful tips from what I've come up with.

The map is a work in progress. Each part of it is likely to be incomplete, imprecise, and inaccurate.

Missions

I've grouped my overall life goals into a set of missions. These missions have different scopes and serve different purposes. I'll list my statement for each mission from broadest to narrowest and then explain them in more detail.

  • Ultimate mission: Be good and enjoy life.
  • Foundational mission: Live comfortably and improve myself.
  • Life mission: Explore mental and relational potential.
  • Career mission: Contribute to developing artificial general intelligence.

I also have an alternate career mission: Help resolve psychological problems through counseling. This one is waiting in the wings to replace or supplement my current career mission, if that becomes a good idea.

These missions involve greatly overlapping sets of topics, skills, tools, and dispositions. These elements are the subject matter of my projects. Hence, a single project may serve more than one mission. The Mission Scope diagram gives a general sense of how the missions overlap. I'll cover these overlaps more in the descriptions below.

Mission Scope diagram

Ultimate mission

My ultimate mission is to be good and enjoy life.

Why have I set this mission? It enables me to live a satisfying life. Technically this means the ultimate mission is only penultimate, because it serves that final purpose. But that goal is too general to be informative, so I haven't made it a separate mission.

How will I accomplish this mission?

  • By fulfilling the other missions.
  • By doing any other relevant tasks that become important.

Foundational mission

My foundational mission is to live comfortably and improve myself.

Why have I set this mission?

  • It supports the other missions by creating an environment in which I can pursue them and by establishing the skills and knowledge that will help me pursue them more effectively.
    • Living comfortably gives me the freedom and resources to do everything else.
    • Improving myself bridges the gap between the way I am and the person I want to be who can fulfill my other missions.
  • It creates a starting fulfillment of the ultimate mission by enabling me to be basically good and basically content.

How will I accomplish this mission?

  • By managing resources to meet basic physical, social, financial, and other needs in a way that minimizes unnecessary stress and creates potential for enjoyment.
  • By training myself in the general dispositions, knowledge, and skills that will enable me to pursue all my missions.
  • By acquiring tools that will help me pursue it.

Life mission

My life mission is to explore mental and relational potential.

Why have I set this mission?

  • Mental life and relationships are the features of the world and the activities I care the most about. The kinds of concepts I have in mind here are mental functions (consciousness, emotion, reasoning, problem solving, memory, attention, imagination, intuition), interaction and discovery, transformation, ethics, and relational dynamics (connection, cooperation, negotiation, conflict).
  • It will increase the well-being of myself and the people in my sphere of influence by applying reason and empathy to the challenges of life through the discovery and communication of knowledge, personal interaction, and the creation of art and technology.

How will I accomplish this mission?

  • By reading, discussing, experiencing, writing, and programming about these topics.
  • By working to enrich people's lives in these areas using my particular skills and interests. The exploring part of the mission includes pursuing these potentials so that they become actual. This actualizing improves the world (ideally), is personally fulfilling, and enables further exploration.

Career mission

My career mission is to contribute to developing artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Why have I set this mission?

  • AGI is the ultimate expression of certain concerns of mine:
    • Exploring the mind.
    • Maximizing competence.
    • Generating discoveries and solutions.
  • It's a high-impact way I can apply my unique combination of interests and skills:
    • The fields contributing to cognitive science, roughly these: psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, and computer science.
    • Creative and critical thinking skills.
    • Programming.

How will I accomplish this mission?

  • By accomplish any necessary prerequisites.
  • By joining a group of people who are working toward AGI and filling whatever role they need that fits my strengths.

Alternate career mission

My alternate career mission is to help people with their psychological problems through counseling.

Why have I set this mission?

  • I enjoy seeing people overcome their problems and participating in that process.
  • Transformed people positively affect their environments. I like the idea of harmony and well-being spreading from the people I've helped.

How would I accomplish this mission?

  • By accomplishing any necessary prerequisites.
  • By filling a counseling role in some private practice or group context.

Journey as destination

People take different approaches to pursuing goals. One dimension of these differences is their goal in pursuing goals. Is the destination their destination, or is the journey the destination? I see this distinction as a spectrum. People will emphasize one or the other of these approaches to varying degrees.

I used to think of myself as very destination oriented, but these days I fall a little closer to the journey end of the spectrum. I definitely care about my chosen goals--they aren't just random MacGuffins--but over the years I've learned to set my sights lower so I don't have to wait years to achieve any satisfaction in life. What I care about now is incremental progress. Aside from desperate needs, if I'm further along today than I was yesterday, I'm happy.

And a lot of the time I enjoy the process of making progress. That makes it easier to achieve the goal of enjoying life. Much of it happens while I'm pursuing the other goals.

Planned updates

  • Improve the mission descriptions.
  • Tie the missions to my projects.
  • Add a strategy for scheduling my projects.