Jeffery Sachs is a man with a plan. He wrote the book “The End of Pover ty” which I am going to buy today on Amazon. He is also the director of the Earth Institute in Columbia University and is a special advisor to Kofi Anan. You can read his wikipedia entry. Incredibly, there is no wikipedia entry for Sachs, so I started a short one. I’ll have to send you to his organization instead.

Anyways, the reason I am talking about him is because I stumbled upon a website supporting Sachs for President of the United States. One of their resources is an awesome pdf called A Simple Plan to Save the World. It was written for Esquire Magazine, by Sachs himself. It’s informative, clear, and slightly liberal. But most importantly it is optimistic.

This whole saving the world business can get you down. I’d be the first to tell you. But reading this article made me feel hopeful and motivated to make a change more than ever. So check it out.

Now that we’ve got your Purpose down in writing, put it away for a while.  I wouldn’t call it your ultimate calling just yet.  But just like writing a paper or a speech, it’s easier to edit once you’ve got something down.

There is only one thing I want you to do today, and that is read an essay by a well known American writer.  His name is Ralph Waldo Emerson.  You probably have heard of him.  Well, he wrote a great essay called Self Reliance that should be mandatory reading for every American.  (And international readers, I think this essay is just as important for you as well)  Emerson talks about being true to yourself, and tells you why honesty is essential to life a real life.

I’ve got a link of Self Reliance translated by Adam Khan into modern English.  Emerson wrote many years ago and the words he uses are often not commonly used today.  It makes the writing a little harder to get into.  But the modern English version solves the problem.  It’s great.  Read it, savor it, and think about it. 

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”

– Marshall Foch

“At some level, we too, have to make an ultimate sacrifice to our callings. We need to devote everything, our whole selves. A part-time effort, a sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, won’t suffice. You must know that you mean business, that you’re going to jump into it up to your eye sockets and not turn back at the last minute.”

– Gregg Levoy
Today’s post is about purpose. What is your purpose in life? What were meant to do here. This is really the big question when it comes to finding yourself. Many people turn to religion for help. But often, the answer is “To serve God”. Well, how can you best do that? Is it just about getting as much money as possible? As much pleasure? Learning as much as possible? Being a good son/parent/sibling? A good citizen? Or something else entirely?

Why is purpose important? It gives meaning to your life. It gives you direction and discovering your true purpose is how you find fulfillment. For more on this, you can read “Why Does Purpose Matter?” Needless to say, most people understanding that discovering your purpose is important.  (3 activities after the jump)

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Ok, we’re getting to the crux of the challenge. We’ve looked at what we really want, and how we want to be remembered. This post is about guiding the journey. If our goals are our destination, than the kind of car we are taking is our values. Everyone has values, and each person’s values reveals a deep aspect of themselves. However, most people don’t stop to take stock on what their values really are. Which is the goal of this post


  1. First, read this post
  2. Then, go to this website and work on your own value list. It even helps you rank them (my biggest challenge):
  3. Optional: read the second part
    Basically, Steve says that before you make a big decision, you see if it aligns with your values

Note: Values change as people change. It’s good to re-asses your values every once in a while to make sure you are being accurate with yourself.

I often feel like my time passes quickly, especially when I am invovled a number of projects, and yet I am unable to account for the time spent. So I’m trying to make a list of things I have done or invovled myself in to help me remember.

  1. Made a new friend: Rohini
  2. Reinforced existing friendships: Supriya, Spencer, Ellora
  3. Worked in a new profession: Telemarketing or “student liason” at The Stanford Fund
  4. Organized and analyzed data for limb assymmetry for the Steinberg Lab
  5. Started a blog
  6. Read a bunch of books:
    Stumbling onto Happiness
    The Power of Now
    Undercover Economist
    Changing MInds
    Discover Your Genius
    Harry Potter 5
    The Art of Motorcycle Maintence
    The Game
  7. I watched two documentaries
    An Inconvienient Truth
    Who Killed the Electric Car?
  8. I watched two movies:
    Superman Returns
    Pirates of the Carribean 2
  9. I watched two romantic movies:
    Before Sunrise
    Before Sunset
  10. I coached for JD’s gymnastics camp
  11. I got a thumb ring and a fake leather bracelet
  12. I studied more techniques behind The Game
  13. I helped Steph and Rohini whistle a little better
  14. I had to reorganize my computer because my hard drive crashed
  15. I got the book nearly finished
  16. I completed a GRE Biology practice exam (I’ll need to study before the test)
  17. I am trying the Shangri-la Diet
  18. I took a number of photographs – and experimented with High Dynamic Range photography
  19. I visited San Francisco a number of times
  20. I spoke with Carrie Arnel about using economics and pyschology to study motivations of Climate Change behavior
  21. I got a list of Thom’s quotes in order to make a shirt
  22. I bought some cool clothes at Old Navy
  23. I cooked Chinese food for Nate, Alex, Sunny, and Bryant
  24. I celebrated 1.5 years with Steph at Henry’s Steakhouse
  25. We finished the photo album project
  26. I organized this Identity building blog series

Well, that’s all I can think of right now, I’ll add to the list later.