Making an impact with my life


Working on hard things

A general heuristic I have for what to work on is whether the work excites me. Often in life I have been told that “you gotta do what you gotta do” and while this may be good advice for some, it’s not great for me. I want to put my life into a position where what I work on is not dictated by what I “gotta do” and instead by what I “get to do”.

Seemingly illogical, focusing on the exciting from my own perspective encompasses other goals I have for my work. This heuristic of excitement also usually intersects with impact and I am therefore able to indirectly satisfy my yearning for making a dent in the beautiful universe we get to call home.

The north wind made the Vikings! - Scandinavian saying

To me this proverb is not only historically accurate but it also translates into my modern life. Pushing through difficulty and not lounging on the available dopamine luxuries I have at my finger tips is the long-sighted way to live, and therefore the stronger argument for what to do with time.

The natural progression of avoiding the easy leads me to working on things that are difficult. Attempting to solve major technical challenges or alleviating suffering are by definition extremely hard but necessarily good.

Another derived benefit of working on hard things is the (usually) positive net result it has for humanity. As someone who wants to see a great future for our species, I realise that working on hard things can make a prosperous future happen.

Hard → hardware?

Is the reason why it’s called hardware because it’s hard? Maybe.

Notwithstanding the challenges of hardware, I truly find it exciting to work on things that affect the physical world and improve inefficiencies that are all around us. We live in a physical world where we interact with physical things and so I feel it’s important to keep some amount of focus on smoothing the rough edges of world processes.

Med-tech, manufacturing, energy production, and exploration are all areas where I feel that significant progress can be made in my life-time. I’m here to make some of that progress happen.

Impact others

The luxuries I experience daily are the product of 50 billion+ people that have come before me.

Building and improving the future for the ones to come drives me to do my best work. Knowing that if I make true change I will have contributed to the compounding nature of progress is exciting and really helps get me out of bed.

“Is this the purpose of my creation, to lie here under the blankets and keep myself warm?…
I am rising for the work of man” - Marcus Aurelius

To do the work of man means to make an impact on some aspect of your life for the better. This usually has secondary effects on the lives of others. It’s therefore crucial to do that well.

As well, a way to impact others is through mentorship. Helping people who are one step behind on the staircase of life creates a cascading effect that accelerates personal development and by derivative global progress.

Efficiency in impact

I have a natural drive towards efficiency in what I do. Agency, efficiency, and impact go hand in hand and when I can be efficient I try to be.

There is however a limit. Uneffecient things can also be beautiful and the skill of finding a balance between both perspectives is truly difficult.

I will update this section when I find how to do this better. - stay tuned :)


© Will Carkner 2024

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