[Strategy] Objectives I

objective setting

I have this Mission to be remembered as a Great Ancestor, or in expanded form “To make a contribution to humanity that will increase Meaning in the Universe and will continue to do so 10,000 years from now.”  Now, the question is, “how to get there?”

I have an intuition on how to get there, but now I’d like to apply some analytical frameworks to it in order to, yet again, articulate this intuition and crystallize the approach to the Mission.

A word on objective setting

Objectives are the steps to achieving the Mission. A sensible method for objective setting is to start with the ultimate objective and ask, “do I have the resources to achieve this outcome?”. If not, “what are the missing resources that I need to obtain?”. Once those are clear, the question is, “do I have the necessary resources to obtain those necessary resources?” And in this iterative fashion, you keep working backwards until you come to a resource that you need, but also have the resources necessary to attain.

This process produces a good outline for what objectives need to be set and is a common approach. But, I think applying this alone is dangerous.

In the same way that a Mission needs to resonate with our Axioms, an objective needs to resonate with our resources. This means that in addition to starting from the top and working backwards, it will also probably be useful to analytically start from the bottom, with the resources, and work towards the Objectives. “What are my resources? What objective will maximize the usage of those resources? If I achieve that objective, what resources will I have gained? What objective will I need to undertake in order to maximize those resources?” And on and on until you reach the highest potential that you can imagine.

This bottom up approach provides an additional set of boundaries, and make sures you aren’t selling yourself too short.

After completing both of them, or due to the process of each, it’s relatively easy to come to a resonant set of initial objectives (all plans evolve).

In a sense, I’ve already done part of this in setting my Mission via constantly asking “why not?”, but I’ll do it explicitly to see if it brings me to anything. Although, I’m afraid my intuition is a head of my articulation process so it may not add anything new.

objectification of the Mission: the element of time

The Mission is concrete enough to give me a vision for myself–it’s not just a philosophy. But, it’s not concrete enough to act as a proper objective and guide my actions. It’s still abstract enough that it could be a suitable Mission for many people.  Going through the objective setting process will make things very concreteb, but first, I’d like to add one small change in order to further objectify the Mission: an element of time.

As I mentioned in my post about Mission, I recognize the possibility of living much longer as our ability to lengthen lifespan increases. But, this is not a variable I want to leave open, as I don’t think it’s conducive to my life or Mission. And if I happen to have a lot more life ahead of me than I plan, that’s fine.

I want to complete this Mission by February 11th, 2046–when I turn 59. As of first writing this sentence, that’s approximately 33.274 years of enjoyment away. I’ve chosen this number because it feels very close, my father is nearing this age. But, this amount of time is substantial as well.

In light of this time element, this Mission is a bit daunting. But that’s part of the point. At the edge of chaos, we’re free to think in new ways.

the top-down path

I’m just gonna do this succinctly. Since I have the advantage of writing this ahead of you reading it, I already know for this segment, it turns out to be a fairly quick exercise:

Ultimate Objective: “To be remembered as a Great Ancestor by making a contribution to humanity that will increase Meaning in the Universe and will continue to do so 10,000 years from now. This contribution will be built by February 11th, 2046.”

Question: Do I have the resources to achieve this?

If I were to answer “yes,” this is purely a recognition that I believe in myself and my ability to do this. But, quite plainly, I have nothing to contribute at the moment! I have rather empty pockets. So, the answer is “No.”

Question: what do I need to achieve this?

First, I need an understanding of what this contribution will be. And to do that I need to understand myself. And really, this means I need to have a very good understanding of my resources.

Question: Do I have the resources to achieve this?

Yes. I have substantial enough experience, a knowledge of writing as a discovery, and this blog already started. Once I write this out, I’ll understand my assets, and I can then choose the nature of contribution.

Question: what are the actions that need to be taken?

I need to do exactly what I said….start from the bottom with the resoruces and and move up……

the bottom-up path

So the top-down approach turned out to be ostensibly trivial. However, it really wasn’t. Looking at things in new ways and writing about them almost always proves to be useful for me. It’s just that it

But, rather nicely, it directly pointed us to the bottom-up approach that I’ve implicitly already followed.

Question: What are my assets?

At the bottom of this post, I’ve documented my assets rather thoroughly. Don’t feel like you need to read it all to follow this post.

Looking at my resources there are a few that are  particularly relevant when thinking about my contribution:

  • near-constant thought about the systems that run our lives–religions, business, government, biology. These are the thoughts that dominate my consciousness. (If you’re fluent with the world of “memes,” this word more perfectly summarizes what I think about. I even wrote a half-ass book essentially on memes.)
  • a burning desire to be in complete control of what enters my consciousness, coupled with the desire to be fully immersed in the world.  
  • a burning desire for humanity to achieve a far higher quality of life and feeling of purpose
  • a desire to express (ie creation and destruction)
  • conviction in the concepts and intuitions that are slowly being expressed as my Axioms
  • the Creativity to back it all up—the belief that reality can be bent, the relentless energy to bend it, the ability to disregard psychological limitations, and a little imagination

the Evolution of Thought: what this all means

Our minds work in a non-linear fashion. We start to build certain bodies of knowledge and ideas on different islands in the mind. And if we let them continue to build–even in the face of contradiction–sometimes they begin to connect and coalesce and resonate.  I think it’s more accurate to say that, if we put in the work, the islands of the mind co-evolve and come together.

Writing is a discovery tool, and the act of writing is non-linear process, which reflects the non-linearity of the bulk of our thinking. However, the consumption of the written word is a linear process, which I think creates an illusion. I’m not coming to my conclusions in a step-wise logical fashion. The act of my writing this is analagous to building a cabin out of thicket of trees that already occupied a plot of land. I keep coming back to this non-linearity of thinking and that these are attempts at “articulations” because I think the mistake people make when making these types of introspections is…strangely…forgetting themselves.

If I were able to write this post in a particularly linear fashion, it would mean one of 2 things: 1) I already know the answer, and it isn’t actually useful or 2) it’s completely synthetic–a fabrication that has nothing to really do with me.

With this post, I actually came to some potentially very important realizations that didn’t have anything to do with the exact subject. This is the nature of trying to unravel the ecosystem of the mind.

This is important to remember in itself, but bearing this in mind…this evolution of mind, I sadly have to say that I can’t concisely articulate the process of jumping from my personal resources to my answer for what this contribution will be. I could do it–true intuition is not fabrications of reality, they’re subconscious observations. But I’ve realized that trying to articulate the jump from my resources to the answer would require a written synthesis of my entire life.

We aren’t done with the objectives. In fact, we haven’t really even started them, but I’ve taken account of my resources, and we’ve closed in on the object of my hunt that I will describe in the next post.

Words can be excellent for articulations, but they can also be prisons if you’re thinking of something totally different–sometimes you want to break away from the history of our language.  So for now, as to what we’re searching for, let’s just call it “the 10,000 Year Beast“.



Tangible resources

My tangible resources are relatively negligible. I have a few measly thousand dollars to live on for the next few months (yet again, always flirting with chaos…). I have a position as a resident advisor at MIT, a position that includes a room and some board. I have a car, but if you were to look at this as a tangible asset, it’s actually a negative for me. (It’s more an intangible asset — it contributes to my sense of freedom.)

External Intangibles

I don’t have a brand or intellectual property. My external intangibles are primarily “social capital.” I have a family that has always implicitly just said, “go do what you think is right”–I guess they have confidence in me (or have plenty of other kids to worry about!). This is absolutely vital. Close relationships have huge influence over us. If they were to be saying, “Kevin, shouldn’t you start being more practical”–this would be a huge injury. But just by not doing this, they are a tremendous resource.

I have some really talented friends, and a few that boost my energy. A few of them really get it. And it’s really interesting, as I start to express my own unique way of thinking more strongly, I find some reacting negatively. And some reacting positively. It’s interesting to see this polarization. But I see it as very important. When you express yourself and people are forced to react to your uniqueness, you find yourself gravitating to the people that truly increase your energy, and away from those that detract.

I’m an alumnus of MIT. And though I despise the education system (which I will discuss soon enough), it is a resource–it lends some intellectual credibility, but more importantly connects me with the greater MIT alumni network.

Internal Intangibles

Personally assessing internal intangibles accurately is difficult to unravel. But, by looking at actions and decisions of the past, and through many interactions with other people, I think I can home in on some key characteristics that are grounded in real expressions of those intangibles.

A meager stockpile of kwowlege and skills. I understand selling–though I’m not a salesman. I’m becoming a quasi-compentent web developer. I have a compentency with sceience and technology that at least allows me to ask decent questions. I’ve lead people in many contexts–sometimes successfully, often times not, but done enough to know that I can do it and am not afraid of having the ax of responsibility hang over my had. I’m a relatively good speaker and writer. I also know that there is a huge amount I don’t know.

Self-reflection. My consistent writing over the past few years lends credence to this. Constant reflection and feedback allows me to gain a greater density of information and knowledge from experiences, and knowledge has compounding returns. 

Borderline Irrational Confidence. I believe in myself — a lot. But labeling this as I have is significant. I’m aware that it doesn’t make sense all the time. And if you can recognize this type of confidence, temper it with humility, and learn to control it, it becomes a huge resource. (Interesting enough, I’ve probably spent an equal amount of my time nervous, scared, and self-critical as I have been oozing confidence. I interpret this as a good thing.)

Slight paranoia. This is an enabling paranoia. It contributes to readiness. In my adult life, it hasn’t injured my quality of experience. I can recognize its purpose. And sometimes it leads to (what might be) slightly absurd scenario planning (“what if a gunman walked in? what would I do?), I find it to be interesting and useful for my personal development and questioning.  It doesn’t control me or take up too many brain cycles.

A keen interest in people. I’ll be in a movie theater or a stadium, and I’ll enjoy watching the crowd more than whatever brought all these people together. I learn primarily through the eyes of others, and I’m constantly amazed by just how much we don’t know about each other, and how much there is to learn.

Love of novelty. I love discovering something new and surprising. The best I can describe it is that it really tickles me seeing aberrations from common knowledge or deviations of any sort. Even very small things. This causes me to seek out different sources of knowledge and information that aren’t commonly held and be more observant of the ongoings around me.

Recognized contrarianism.  I’m very apprehensive when I see many people doing the same thing or saying the same thing.  People ask me why I don’t move to the land of Milk and Honey for technologists (Silicon Valley). Loss of perspective happens quickly, and there I think I”d be caught in an echo chamber. Plus, people heading there in droves just makes me uneasy. I felt the same way when many of my peers in school were flocking to the financial sector. This helped me go seek out other pastures. I think in all this it’s important to be wary of being a contrarian in a damaging way.

Intelligence. I have mental capacities that are worthy of noting as an asset–an emotional intelligence; a particularly good memory for people, events, stories, and words spoken to me; the ability to think analytically, mathematically, spatially, and ability to think on my feet. I’ve met many people, particularly in technical fields that are far better,  but there are areas of intelligence I’ve seen myself excel at.

Individualism (relatively high differentiation quotient). I have a strong desire to be unique and find my own path–I suppose this is interlaced with contrarianism and love of novelty.

Listen/Not-Listen. Despite what my actions may ostensibly say, I listen a lot, and I’ve gotten better at really paying attention to what people are saying. However, it just so happens, that I’m equally good at not-listening and taking the action that I think is right — even if no one else thinks so. I suppose this is really at the crux of having good judgment. And judgment improves with experience, but I feel I’m on a good road with this.

Relentless. For a long time, for whatever reasons, I was easily frustrated and would often despair. I could not accept this. And by changing perceptions and my environment  seeing how hard and bleak things can be sometimes, and just developing emotionally, I feel I’ve gained the resolve necessary to say that I’m pretty fucking relentless now. The interesting thing with being relentless is that, like many self-concepts, it is self-fulfilling. It’s something that you can eventually just flat out decide to be. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m the most bloodthirsty, hungry, and persistent hunter to walk the earth. There is a lot of inertia in the world. And my worldview asserts that reality is the chessboard of ideas and desires, so long as enough energy and persistence can be rallied and directed to make reality bend or break. (Obviously this is clearly not true in some contexts, but in other contexts, it is.)

An demand for understand “why.” I’ve discussed this already. This has helped guide me to things I felt are important.

Disregard for rules that do not matter. It’s so easy to be tied down buy all the senseless obligations and rules that can be placed on a person. They are illusions made by humans that had no business meddling in our lives.

My Creativity. If you were to ask me what i value most about myself, I would say, with zero doubt in my voice, “My Creativity.” However, I define Creativity slightly differently. In many ways is the epitomization of some of the other characteristics I’ve listed above. Creativity is partially a mental capacity to connect disparate ideas and come up with new things–I call this Imagination. Creativity is also a capacity for action. Ideas are nothing left floating in the sky. With this in mind, Creativity is also relentless energy coupled with the balls to do something different that no one will support you on and will even try to thwart you. A disregard of rules and boundaries are key part of this–both the mental processes and the path of action where there are a constant stream of nagging, parasitic trivialities that people will attempt to uphold as good reason to do absolutely nothing.





  • Vlad

    Kevin you are my hero – Vlad

    • http://KevinVogelsang.com Kevin Vogelsang

      Just a dude doing what he can :)