How I Would Build my Life If I Could Engineer It From Scratch

I like to periodically think about long-term goals and whether or not I’m moving towards them. One idea that I stumble into every once in a while related to that is the the question of an ideal life.

If I could script my own path, from the very beginning, what would I want it to look like? It turns out to be pretty revealing to honestly explore this question, and I thought—why not do it in public?

Here’s my current list, which I think I’ll keep updated as a project:

  1. For an undergraduate degree, I would do Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at Oxford. The more I read the more I realize how crucial both economics are as a foundation for education, and Oxford is the first school to offer the degree.

  2. I’d run a website pretty much exactly like this one and use it as the homebase for all my projects.

  3. I’d travel around the world speaking on technology and humanity.

  4. I’d own a book store, and it would be the most aesthetically beautiful bookstore you could imagine. From the name of the store, to the typography on the sign outside, to the menu of coffee, to the book selection, it would be exquisitely curated and thought-out. There would be relatively few books, but every single one would be a treasure, and when not traveling I’d spend time there getting people excited about reading.

  5. I’d also be doing additional degree programs, such as the curated liberal college programs where you don’t pick anything and they just run you through hand-picked set of courses.

Now for the fun part. The trick move is to look at the list, and look at your own life, and ask yourself: What part of this list can I not do?

It’s really an exercise in not becoming complacent and assuming that life is over because you’re over 25.

And even if there are things on your own list that just aren’t realistic, like getting accepted to Oxford for example, how can you check that box in other ways? Could you find the curriculum? Could you find all the books that are read in those courses and read them yourself? Could you find the syllabus for those classes?

In many cases the answer might be yes—regardless of what the item is.

I encourage you to make your own perfect life list, and then start working on how to make it happen to whatever degree possible.


  1. July 2, 2020 — I would also create educational cirricula.

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