Know Thyself: Context

If you’ve been following the Know Thyself entries in recent months, you’ll know that I’ve had trouble pursuing my goals in the last few years. Thanks to a few articles on, I’d tracked the problem down to a lack of purpose and context, but I didn’t know how to move forward from there. Trying to discover my purpose gave me a list of things that inspired me to a greater or lesser extent, but nothing that I could get really excited about.

Yesterday morning, I decided to try a different approach. I went over the list of potential purposes that I’d come up with and picked out half a dozen that seemed to resonate most strongly with me right then. (Oddly enough, almost none of them were the ones that I’d marked as being most important while I was writing the list.) Then I tried to analyze them, looking for underlying themes they might have in common.

The first thing on both my full list and my short-list was “to get rich and famous.” Why, I asked myself, do I want to get rich? Because, myself answered, wealth equal freedom. The wealthier a person is, the more freedom he has to do what he wants. But there was more to it than that.

I’ve always hated being forced to do things, with a passion that little else can equal. I think it’s genetic, because one of my nephews has a full helping of it too. And when you’re not wealthy, there are people who can force you to do things — your employer, for instance. Well, even though I’m my own employer now, other forces still tell me what I can and can’t do. The lawn still grows; somebody has to cut it regularly, and I can’t presently afford to hire someone else to do it for me. I’m free to run off on vacation whenever I wish, but finances limit me in where I can run off to and what I can do when I get there. Wealth gives you more options to deal with problems (like the lawn), as well as more choices (like where to go and what to do on vacation). A truly wealthy person can not only do what he chooses, but can’t be forced to anything he doesn’t want to. That is what “freedom” means to me, and what I truly desire from wealth.

The other half of that is fame. But I’m an introvert; on the face of it, pursuing fame doesn’t seem to make sense. But then I thought about the people that I look up to the most. Financial teachers like Robert Kiyosaki and Ken Roberts. Fiction authors who (deliberately or inadvertently) teach people about themselves or the world, like Mercedes Lackey, Peter F. Hamilton, and Steven Brust, among many, many others. Life coaches like Barbara Sher, Steve Pavlina, and David Allen. The obvious thread is that they all teach ways to understand or improve your life. I’m driven to change things that I perceive as wrong, and eliminating ignorance would also eliminate most of the things that I feel are wrong with the world. I want to help people to learn how to think better so they can live more fulfilling lives. Fame is a shortcut to that, because people automatically give more weight to what a famous person says. (Ironically enough, that’s one of the things that I think eliminating ignorance would cure.)

Once I realized those two things, I could see that all of the potential purposes that I picked out for my short-list, and nearly every one on the full list, has one or both of them behind it. Project Badger did as well, and even writing this blog helps fulfill one of them. 🙂

Every time I remember the fierce joy of seeing the light of sudden understanding in another person’s eyes when I’ve explained something to them, I feel a very strong desire to see it again. And every time I remember the burning rage and humiliation of being forced to do something, I rediscover the drive to become wealthy enough that that can never happen again. Any goal or task that leads to one or both of those outcomes should be easy for me to follow through on. Project X will help me achieve both, and now that I realize that, very little should be able to slow me down.

So, unless I discover something more to it, this will be the last Know Thyself article. I’ve found the answers that I sought, the deep inner passions that drive me. It’s time to get serious about achieving them.