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A Blueprint For Life
[Many thanks to Ash and Frank.]

This article will explore goal-setting, time management, organization, and some other methods for self-development.

None of this is advice, simply a collection of ideas that might be helpful. Please take what you need and leave the rest. It is a little repetitive.


Know Thyself
The Big Picture
Up Close and Personal
A Greater Plan

Know Thyself

We've spoken before about avoiding burnout and finding one's purpose, as well as how to handle complex situations. Here, we would like to provide more tools for assessing our state of awareness so as to increase our ability to learn and stay productive.

The Four Stages of Competence, created by Martin Broadwell, is a model which describes the learning process. Each of the four stages naturally leads into the next...

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence

Unconscious Incompetence is when we don't know that we don't know something. For example, we might lack an awareness that a field of study exists, let alone know anything about it. This is a normal part of learning, but it also signals the importance of staying open and exploring what others have discovered about reality. To be "ignorant" means "to ignore", to not notice the reality around us.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence

Conscious Incompetence is when we have been made aware of what we do not know in some way. For example, sometimes we encounter tasks that we cannot do, so we wonder if others have already found ways of doing them. We might have a vague understanding of what something is, maybe the names of a couple of related concepts, but the details are fuzzy or non-existent. If we can see the value in learning more about it, then it may inspire us to study it. It often leads to questioning, "Where do I even begin?" This is especially true if there is no information readily available on a subject. In such cases, we can try to put into words what we have observed, and then reason about it.

Stage 3: Conscious Competence

Conscious Competence is when we have increased familiarity with a topic, and maybe some level of facility with its application. For example, we may know how to handle a tool in principle, but it still takes effort to use it with skill. We might rely heavily on reference works for guidance, still have a few questions about the basics, and so on. If someone asked us to do something, we could. Or, at the very least, we would have some idea of where to start.

Stage 4: Unconscious Competence

Unconscious Competence is "mastery", when the fundamentals are so conditioned into a habit that something is effortless to do. We might be able to do multiple things simultaneously because it does not take as much focus to accomplish each task as it once did. This is usually referred to as "multitasking". We can explore the fine details behind how that knowledge is applied with little confusion, and perhaps make new discoveries in the process. A certain amount of freedom and creativity is now possible.

Unfortunately, sometimes those who are Unconsciously Competent cannot communicate as well as they can demonstrate because they have forgotten the steps that they took to get there. They may take pieces of information that others have not yet encountered for granted. Essentially, "teaching" is sharing information in ways that the person that one is communicating with can understand and apply.

To summarize, the four stages (visualized here as a staircase-like shape, or levels that build upon one another) are:

Photo Credit: Be Braver

We constantly cycle through these stages with the specifics of each subject, and are at different stages in regards to different subjects. Introspection leads to insight, such as where we are Unconsciously Incompetent.

Sometimes people rush around so much that they neglect taking the time to reflect, or they become afraid of what they might find within, so they desperately try to avoid being alone with their thoughts and feelings by constantly putting their attention on other things. There is no reason for us to fear our own thoughts and feelings, or to perceive them as a burden. In fact, they are the means by which we create things and receive useful feedback! Therefore, by seeking to understand them, they can help us to more readily engage life in constructive ways.

An interesting tool for getting a glimpse into ourselves is the Johari Window, "Johari" being a combination of the names Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, the two psychologists who created it. Like four panes of glass, the Johari Window is essentially a table with four quadrants. Each of these quadrants describes what we know about ourselves and how that seems to relate to others. It looks like this:

Known To Self Not Known To Self
Known To Others Arena Blind Spot
Not Known To Others Façade Unknown

• The top-left quadrant, Arena (as in the "public arena"), describes the things about ourselves which are obvious and open to all. What is our "personality" like?

• The bottom-left quadrant, Façade, describes the aspects of ourselves that we keep hidden or private. Façade (pronounced "fuh-sod") is literally the front of a building. In this case, it means one's "persona" (i.e.: the image that one chooses to project to others).

• The top-right quadrant, Blind Spot, describes the things which escape our self-awareness, but that are apparent to others (e.g.: like any unconscious habits that we tend to do in public).

• The bottom-right quadrant, Unknown, represents everything that neither party knows. Notice its similarity to Stage 1, Unconscious Incompetence, of the previous model.

Contemplating the contents of each quadrant can be a useful practice in its own right, but it is usually done during a conversation. Each person draws a Johari Window on a sheet of paper, filling in the Arena and Façade quadrants with some adjectives that describe them (e.g.: shy, brave, etc.). Then, they have a dialogue about what they have written, putting in more about themselves as they learn from one another.

Conversations are a wonderful way to learn more about ourselves, each other, and the world. Sometimes we need differing points of view for details to become evident, overcoming those Blind Spots. Trust and intimacy is sometimes developed by dropping the Façade and disclosing aspects of our private lives. Probing the Unknown with some friends can also be an enjoyable experience.

Although, you might be wondering, "Wouldn't the Unknown quadrant always stay blank? How can we write down what we do not know?" By making a space for it, we acknowledge its existence. Let's see if there is some way that we can get a better grasp on the Unknown...

In his fantastic lecture, Knowing Better Via Systems Thinking, David Ing talks about a similar tool called an Ignorance Map (based on the work of Marlys Witte, Ann Kerwin, and Charles Witte):

Photo Credit: Systemic Thinking of Sustainable Communities

Each of the six parts of the question mark (i.e.: Known Unknows, Unknown Unknowns, Errors, Unknown Knowns, Taboos, and Denials) are like puzzle pieces. Their boundaries are fuzzy because their extent will probably not be well-defined, but when put together, the image that they form is a map of all of the things that we do not know. Learning is continually translating the "unknown" into the "known" with as few Errors as possible.

David also elaborates on the idea of Errors, categorizing them into four distinct types (based upon the work of Ian Mitroff and Abraham Silvers):

Type 1 Error: False Positive finding a (statistical) relation that isn't real
Type 2 Error: False Negative missing a (statistical) relation that is real
Type 3 Error: Tricking Ourselves Unintentional error of solving wrong problems precisely (through ignorance, faulty education, or unreflective practice)
Type 4 Error: Tricking Others Intentional error of solving wrong problems (through malice, ideology, overzealousness, self-righteousness, wrongdoing)

Minimizing how much we fool ourselves or other people into doing destructive things requires care. This is more than just logical reasoning, but includes emotional intelligence and communication skills as well.

Honest self-questioning is very different from negative self-talk. Likewise, it is important that we understand how to distinguish between advice that is genuinely helpful and suggestions which are hurtful, whatever the intentions behind them. Insults are not constructive criticisms, and vice versa. Sometimes people mistake one for the other when listening or speaking, and their relationships suffer due to miscommunication.

The Big Picture

Once we know where we are at, we can then determine where we are going. It helps to start off with the general principles that motivate us. What goals align with them? We can break these goals down into specific actions that will accomplish them. One framework for doing this is known as Objectives and Key Results (or OKRs for short).

The concept of OKRs was invented by Andrew Grove and popularized by John Doerr. It is often used within the context of business management, so many of the materials which cover it have a "corporate" flavor to them. However, the general premise is easy to understand and can be useful on a personal level.

It has two aspects:

1. Objectives (What and Why?)
2. Key Results (How?)

Let's take each of these in turn...

Objectives are what we are aiming for and why. They have to be:

• "Significant" - They must have some kind of impact on our lives.
• "Concrete" - They must be tangible, something that we can sense.
• "Action-Oriented" - They must be connected to our behaviors.
• "Inspirational" - They must excite us into action whenever we think about them.

Key Results are how we know the Objective has been accomplished. They have to be:

• "Specific & Time Bound" - They cannot be too general and must be done within a set period of time.
• "Aggressive Yet Realistic" - Aim high, but stay humble throughout.
• "Measurable & Verifiable" - There cannot be any doubt as to whether or not they have been done.

All of this can be summarized with the simple statement:

"I will [Objective] as measured by [Key Results]."

The wording of an Objective should be a clear and conscise description of a goal that is deeply meaningful to us, not a mission statement unto itself. We need to be able to recall it easily. "Short and sweet."

There should be 2-5 Key Results for each Objective. These must also be easy to recall, obvious in how they relate to the Objective, and should be small enough to get done within a reasonable timeframe. It is helpful to think of them like a "to-do list" with a limited number of timed tasks.

To summarize, we are going from general to specific:

It is important to keep in mind that we might have to further develop our outline as we try to carry it out. Rarely do things go exactly as we foresee, and sometimes we must revise and adapt even the best-laid of plans. The aforementioned David Ing lecture shares an interesting symbolic representation of how a plan transforms as it unfolds:

Photo Credit: The Strategy Concept I: Five Ps for Strategy by Henry Mintzberg

The Intended Strategy is what we plan on doing, while the Deliberate Strategy is what we actually do. The Emergent Strategy is how we respond to events that arise during that process. There are many things that are both inside and outside of our control; it is important to know the difference between the two and keep a sense of composure about both.

The Unrealized Strategy contains all of the aspects of the plan that are not implemented. Again, the most appropriate responses may be radically different from what we had anticipated. Realized Strategy is the result, the direction that we are pointed towards. Notice that it is a merger of the Deliberate and the Emergent.

OKRs can be applied to any aspect of our life, but where do we begin? One helpful scheme is given within Jon and Missy Butcher's Lifebook method. They divide life into 12 Areas (some might overlap, and not all of them may be personally relevant):

Guiding Star

Life Vision
Quality of Life

The Life Vision category subsumes all of the other categories. Having a comprehensive vision for our life can help to guide our actions. This is why it is considered a "guiding star". When we know what we are doing and why, we do not get out of balance by focusing too much on any one category to the detriment of the others, or lose track of what we are trying to accomplish whenever we become discouraged. Oftentimes, Quality of Life can be a reflection of how close we are to living out our Life Vision. Things become "easier" when we are consistently aligned with our purpose.

Personal Categories

Health & Fitness
Intellectual Life
Emotional Life
Spiritual Life

These categories are "Personal" in the sense that they are predominantly internal, involving mostly ourselves. We can choose what we ingest, what we think about, what emotions we dwell upon, how we treat others, our philosophy and outlook on life, etc. We are only influenced in these decisions to the extent that we allow.

Interpersonal Categories

Love Relationship
Social Life

These categories are "Interpersonal" because they involve other people. Depending upon the nature of the relationship (e.g.: a marriage), we might share our entire Life Vision with another person and these categories will start to merge.

Financial Life

These last two might seem the same. While they are connected, they are distinct categories. We could think of Career as what we are contributing to society, and Financial Life as the resources that we have available as a result.

Jon and Missy suggest going through each of these areas and asking ourselves 4 Questions:

1. "What are my beliefs about this area of my life?"
2. "What precisely do I want in this area of my life?"
3. "Why do I want that?"
4. "What do I need to do to get it?"

The entire process is supported by 4 Pillars:

1. "Have a crystal clear Life Vision in all 12 areas"
2. "Align your goals with that Life Vision"
3. "Align your habits with your goals"
4. "Wrap accountability and a measuring system around all of it"

Notice how similar all of it is to OKRs!

[If you would like to learn more about the Lifebook method, there is an interesting conversation about it here. However, please be warned, there is some cursing and some brief mentions of sex.]

Formulating a plan like this might seem overwhelming, but we do not need to do everything all at once. In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen suggests that the very act of writing out any task that is not well-defined frees our mind of stress and makes it easier to "get things done" in general. If we take a little bit of time each day to write out some of the plan in a journal, and sincerely attempt to align our daily activities with it in a way that will steadily build upon itself, we will start to see constructive changes before we know it. Be dedicated without extraneous effort.

It is important to keep in mind that this is much more than simply fantisizing though; we are approaching our beliefs and behaviors systematically so that we can transform every aspect of our lives step-by-step. We do not need to buy anything to do this! No books, no courses, no subscriptions, no retreats. The tools are already here. Only you can provide the personal input that will make them useful for you. No one else can do that.

Carefully introspect, and then, enact. Keep refining the process through what is learned. Note how all things are interrelated.

Up Close and Personal

Now that we have a general outline, we can tease out some more specific details...

Let's take a moment to compare what we've said about Key Results with SMART Goals, a very common goal-setting technique. "SMART" is an acronym that means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. All of these aspects reinforce one another. For example, we cannot create something "Measurable" if we are not "Specific" about it. To explore each of these aspects in turn:


It begins with a clear idea of what we are trying to achieve and a meaningful reason for why. Sometimes people are "spinning their wheels without going anywhere" (i.e.: lack efficiency and stagnate because the what and the why are vague).


We need criteria or targets that allow us to gauge our progress and know when a goal has been achieved. Break it down into simple step-by-step procedures that provide immediate feedback.


Are we capable of doing these tasks, or do we need to acquire some skillset first? We need to be honest with ourselves and keep from underestimating the amount of effort required (i.e.: Dunning-Kruger Effect).


Are we self-motivated or are we reacting emotionally to some outside influence? In other words, are we attempting to reach a goal because we sincerely want to, or is it to try to placate others? Moreover, is what we are doing actually aligned with our aim? Sometimes people do not realize when those do not match up, becoming frustrated that it seems as if it is "going nowhere".


Carefully balance patience and productivity. Keep the process within a definite timeframe, with a "start date" and an "end date" that can be marked on a calendar.

Never give up on constructive goals! Instead of punishing ourselves for our perceived "failures" or blaming others by becoming bitter and vindictive, we must learn and grow from our experiences. If we don't achieve a goal by its "end date", we can refine our process by reassessing all of the above. A good way to do this is by keeping a written log of our daily activities. This type of tracking can:

1. Give us a "feel" for how long tasks take relative to one another so that we can figure out more reasonable estimates of duration

2. Make it apparent how we are using our time so that we can more carefully decide what we want to concentrate on at any given moment

This makes it easier to find different, more efficient ways of doing what we need to. The minutes that are saved can be channeled towards something that will enrich our lives even further.

In their book, How to Be Organized in Spite of Yourself, Sunny Schlenger and Roberta Roesch suggest categorizing everything within the log according to Eisenhower's Principle. This principle separates all activities into one of four kinds:

Photo Credit: MindTools

By "Important" we mean a task connected to our goals, and by "Urgent" we mean a task with immediate consequences. The more Important and the more Urgent that a task is, the higher its "Priority". All activities of higher Priority should be done first!

Be cautious of "going through the motions" (e.g.: assuming that something is "done" just because it has been checked off of a to-do list, when in actuality, it requires more consideration). Some goals do not end in a particular achievement, but must be steadily maintained. For example, diet is something that must be integrated into one's life. It doesn't end with one meal. We need reliable, long-term strategies that can keep us well-fed.

Sunny and Roberta also classify how people approach time management into five "styles" that they refer to as Time Controllers. The five Time Controllers are...

Definitions Comments
Style 1:
"Hopping" is when one constantly moves from one task to another. Pros: It allows one to adapt their energy level to different kinds of activities (e.g.: doing simple tasks when energy is low, and more involved tasks when energy is high).

Cons: It may lead to being easily distracted and leaving many things unfinished. This can be resolved by committing to finish smaller projects. Do not "bite off more than you can chew".
Style 2:
"Perfectionism" is to focus in on details. Pros: It allows one to be precise.

Cons: Some standards are so "high" that they are impossible to reach. If it is not critical (e.g.: a matter of "life or death"), it is okay to relax. Likewise, do not hesitate to ask for assistance when you truly need some help.
Style 3:
Allergic to Detail
To be "Allergic to Detail" is to deal with things generally. Pros: It allows one to get a broad overview of a situation or subject.

Cons: Important details can "slip through the cracks". It sometimes stems from impatience and leads to a lack of follow-through. This can be resolved by taking time to consider those details!
Style 4:
Fence Sitter
To "Fence Sit" is to carefully deliberate over a choice. Pros: By taking some time to think before acting, one can keep from making hasty decisions that they might regret later.

Cons: Sometimes people never make the decisions that they should, procrastinating by endlessly "hemming and hawing". This can be resolved by narrowing down the options / alternatives, ranking them according to how closely they meet our objectives, and then making a choice. Do not stop short. Sometimes a choice must be made repeatedly before it starts to "bear fruit".
Style 5:
Cliff Hanger
To "Cliff Hang" is to require outside influence to get a task done. Pros: Sometimes people can "pull through", pressured into developing methods for handling challenging situations. As the saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention."

Cons: Rather than put oneself or others under undue stress, develop an awareness of what needs to be taken care of before it cries out for attention. One does not need to make needlessly risky decisions in order to be creative, or sacrifice quality by "waiting until the last minute" to get something done.

A person may not be exclusively of one style or another, but adopt different ones depending upon the circumstances.

Sunny and Roberta use a similar scheme for describing different "styles" of organization, referred to as Space Controllers. The five Space Controllers are...

Definitions Comments
Style 1:
Everything Out
"Everything Out" is having all tools and/or information visible at once. This can help one to understand what resources are available, but can degrade into chaos. Find ways for everything to be both clean and accessible.
Style 2:
Nothing Out
"Nothing Out" is having everything put away in its own space. Keeping everything put away can maintain order, but can also make a space feel sterile. Give those spaces a decorative touch to make them more inviting.
Style 3:
Right Angler
"Right Angling" is compulsive organization, to neatly arrange clutter. It is good to cultivate a habit of cleanliness, but clean out whatever is no longer necessary. Do not endlessly rearrange.
Style 4:
Pack Rat
To act like a "Pack Rat" is to save everything. Find uses for everything and pass it on when it is no longer being used. Do not keep things perpetually within storage or selfishly hoard items.
Style 5:
Total Slob
To act like a "Total Slob" is to put things into total disarray. Cleaning up after oneself (e.g.: by placing items back in their designated areas after we use them) makes life easier for everyone. Even if we don't live with anyone, a well-organized environment can be conducive to clear thinking.

Like the Time Controllers, people might not be exclusively one or the other when it comes to Space Controllers. There is something to be learned from each approach.

When organizing, start by classifying things into general groups, then focus on specifics. Sometimes there is so much clutter that none of the details are readily apparent anyway.

Make efficient use of storage. For example, we can label containers to more easily find what is inside of them, so long as their contents remain consistent. An organization system no longer serves its function when one doesn't care enough to maintain it.

Finally, organization is more than racks and shelving for physical items. It also includes how we put together information for future reference. To give a couple of examples:

Obsidian, or some other program for making "mind maps" and "flowcharts", can help one to make notes that show interconnections between ideas. These associations aid memorization and creativity.

• An ebook manager like Calibre can help one to put their digital library in order, similar to how many libraries use the Dewey Decimal System. If someone has enough physical books, they can organize them with the same system.

Time management and organizational skills strongly complement the goal-setting methods and self-awareness techniques that we've already covered.

A Greater Plan

"Manifestation" seems to be a very popular subject now. This is partly due to the 2006 book/movie The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, but many of the concepts behind it originated within the New Thought Movement that began in the late 1800's [particularly the work of P. P. Quimby about healing the body through the mind]. It mostly revolves around an idea called "The Law of Attraction", which can be summarized by the simple statement:

Deeply envision an ideal and express gratitude as if it was already real.

To elaborate on each part:

• By "deeply envision" we mean vividly imagining an ideal, to experience it within the present moment through all of our senses as realistically as possible. Some use the term "creative visualization" to describe the same process.

• Gratitude is joy and contentment over what is already aligned with that ideal. Instead of "wanting", we are cultivating a sense of "having" and sharing. It may sound a bit trite, but no matter what situation that we are in, there is always something to be grateful for.

These are helpful to do throughout the planning that we've already described, for there is truth to the the statement that "Like Attracts Like". One's experience of reality can also change dramatically with only a small shift in perception. However, one must be cautious when it comes to interpreting how one's experience influences reality itself. For example:

As per the suggestions of Sports Psychology, many athletes use mental imagery as a core part of their training. Our bodies respond to what we imagine because our body and mind are interrelated. The two cannot be fully separated.

Likewise, similar methods are used for healing. By thoroughly engaging one's thoughts and feelings throughout the process of healing, sometimes profound effects can happen. Again, learning and healing are connected.

"Fake it until you make it" means to pretend until something is true. Where is the limit though? It becomes a danger when one is so consumed by fantasy that they can no longer distinguish reality. Operating upon fiction rather than fact can lead to harm of others and oneself. To give a couple more examples:

• When people resign their lives to "fate", they might not realize how much control they have over their own destiny through the choices that they make. "Luck" is simply an awareness of opportunities, carefully listening to one's intuitions, holding positive expectations, and developing a resilient attitude when it comes to "failure".

• When people mistake narcissism for Oneness, they may try to control everything around them. "Spirituality" is used to justify selfishness and hide manipulative behaviors. Rather than thinking of what we can "get" at each other's expense, what can we give for our mutual benefit? Everyone is capable of contributing something constructive without imposing their will upon another.

The more that one attempts to align their personal plans with virtue, the more that everyone finds "success", including oneself. Virtues are incredibly important to focus upon, but unfortunately, they are often neglected. To use the familiar saying, "virtue is its own reward". In other words, genuinely attempting to live out these constructive principles is helpful to us, whether or not we receive something from someone else in return.

There is a lot of practical material on the subject, such as James Barton's list of virtues and book on character development, Inner Medicine. [This book is also available as a free PDF.]

Another beautiful example is Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues. Here is a list of them from his autobiography, along with some personal interpretations of each:

Virtue Meaning
Temperance Franklin's Original Definition: "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

Modern English Version: Do not overeat or get drunk. [To which I would add, "Create well-balanced, nutritious meals."]
Silence Franklin's Original Definition: "Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

Modern English Version: Use your words to enrich people's lives. Do not gossip or speak carelessly.
Order Franklin's Original Definition: "Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

Modern English Version: Manage both your space and your time well.
Resolution Franklin's Original Definition: "Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."

Modern English Version: Handle your responsibilities. Align words with actions and follow-through.
Frugality Franklin's Original Definition: "Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

Modern English Version: Do not live outside of your means and always share what you have. Repair and repurpose rather than throw away.
Industry Franklin's Original Definition: "Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

Modern English Version: There is no such thing as "boredom". Use time wisely, efficiently.
Sincerity Franklin's Original Definition: "Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

Modern English Version: Be honest, yet tactful. Treat others with genuine kindness.
Justice Franklin's Original Definition: "Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

Modern English Version: Maximize life and minimize harm as much as possible with each decision. Do not withhold peace or mercy.
Moderation Franklin's Original Definition: "Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

Modern English Version: Not everything requires intensity. Do not hold grudges or allow "bad feelings" to fester.
Cleanliness Franklin's Original Definition: "Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."

Modern English Version: Keep your body, clothes, and living space clean.
Tranquillity Franklin's Original Definition: "Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."

Modern English Version: Keep calm, especially when it comes to minor inconveniences. Be forgiving of mistakes.
Chastity Franklin's Original Definition: "Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

Modern English Version: Keep sexuality consensual, pleasurable, and private. It should not hurt you or the person with whom it is shared.
Humility Franklin's Original Definition: "Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

Modern English Version: Always try to serve others. No amount of "knowledge", "wealth", etc. should make one arrogant.

They are in this order because Benjamin realized that turning some of these virtues into a habit could assist him in making a habit of the others. He tried to embody one virtue as well as he could throughout the week before moving onto the next one in the above list. Whenever he made it to the end of the list, he cycled back to the beginning. As he reflected each night, he tracked his progress on a little chart that looked like this:

Photo Credit: Daring To Live Fully

The top-most row represents the days of the week, while the left-most column represents each virtue. It works like a modern "habit tracker", except instead of marking every day that something is done, he marked every time that he did something counter to that virtue. This might sound as if it would be discouraging, but Benjamin was pleased with how much he grew throughout. Do not worry about achieving "perfection", just reflect upon the events of each day and correct mistakes whenever possible. [Here is a template from DIY Planner if you would like to try it out. You can put the virtues in any order that makes sense to you.]

Many people throughout time have noticed how challenging it can be to gain skill in virtue, requiring a careful balance of different qualities. An interesting model is Aristotle's Golden Mean:

deficit BALANCE excess
Hamlet's indecisiveness
Don Quixote's impulsiveness

[The above table is based on one by Sandra Effinger, derived from the book The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant]

The center column describes various virtues. The column to the left describes the lack of that quality, while the column to the right describes the excess of that same quality. For example: "Loquacity" means to chatter, to speak without thought. "Secrecy" is to withhold truth. Honesty is truth shared with consideration.

The last row gives an example of a fictional character who embodies the virtue of Self-Control, Atticus Finch from the book To Kill a Mockingbird. It also gives a couple of examples that don't, like Hamlet and Don Quixote.

Life does not need to be a tragedy. Our story is written through the decisions that we make.


We've formulated a general plan for our lives, figured out how to implement it in detail, and aligned it with potentials greater than ourselves alone. We hope that this resource was helpful to you and continues to be into the future.

Thank you for reading! ❤️