I had set most of my life’s goals before I was thirteen and haven’t really altered them. I’ve rebuilt myself and my life about once a decade to fulfill those goals. If your goals are clear life is much easier.
1 – “Life is short, and **We only get one chance. Do as much as you can** with it and leave your mark on history. It is the only possible immortality.” or Life is an apple, take big bites, moderation is for monks. Probably from the life of Alexander.
2 – Build a **fortune** to make it possible. (done) Probably inspired by my paternal family’s lifestyle (wealth) compared to my maternal family’s loss of it during the depression. A promise I made when probably eight or ten.
3 – **Know everything** in every book in the library (pretty much done, frighteningly.) (Whenever I imagined I had three wishes, this was always the first. Knowledge is power. Wisdom is an asset to put it into play. And wisdom provides mindfulness.)
4 – “**Build my god a church**” (Almost done, although a far different result, and much greater project than I’d imagined) From a promise I made to myself at twelve, while sitting in church.
5 – “Smile and laugh often”, “**Treat everyone you meet as a potential friend** until demonstrated otherwise” , “Be respectful and kind to the working man and the little people who are not so privileged – they are the most moral people in society”, “Do many minor goods and kindnesses for no reason at all” – big demonstrations are for your self aggrandizement and create senses of debt in others. Many small kindnesses accumulate in the change of behavior of the people around you.
6 – “**Die Well**. Put The Willingness to Die to Good Use” (Planning on it.) Promise I made to myself in my teens.
The Opposite Side
I did not expect to “**brook no slight**” even though it is a family motto. I found that tolerance is not a virtue but a convenience of those who take no responsibility for themselves, others, or the commons.
I did not expect to **compete ruthlessly **and perhaps too much so. But that ended up being a part of my life that had mixed results for me personally, even if it created wealth.
I did not expect to be a relatively **useless (absent) father** and in retrospect I should have forgone fatherhood despite my children being my greatest joy.
I did not expect my **health** to be such a problem for my life but I have prevailed mostly despite it. Ill health is not something I would wish on anyone.
I think I made three great mistakes, my first being not transferring when a professor asked me to join his department, so that I would have become a philosopher earlier; not staying ‘quit’ when I quit my job as CEO – loyalty was a bad idea; divorcing my wife, who was a saint, but I was too ill to understand she really did love me.
I think I only really **failed** meaningfully once, and fairly recently, and I still plan on remedying that failure, so that I can depart this life not having done so.