The Mission Statement of this Website

Rather than risk getting off-course or letting you bumble around to infer what my purpose here is, I've decided to establish my site's mission statement. Don't confuse this with my personal mission statement, which may include all sorts of selfishness and perversion.

This website's mission is a) to help readers (myself included) subjectively improve themselves--and their world; b) to teach readers to focus, reduce anxiety, find contentment, and succeed using evidence-based arguments and straightforward, detailed guides to action; and c) to maintain a courteous and optimistic tone throughout.

Damn. I was hoping to make that more succinct, but oh well. The important thing is that it properly defines the site's mission. Let's break it down in more detail.

a) to help readers...

The first clause states the intended audience: people looking for guidance on self-improvement, which includes myself. Not everything I write on this site is tried-and-tested, at least by me. A lot of it is me thinking through problems that I'm trying to solve also, but haven't yet. It is not the end-all and be-all guide for how to be the greatest person who ever lived and solve all the world's problems. Think of the content of the site as starting a dialogue about issues in modern life.

Let me also be clear that I don't believe the sole purpose of self-development is to develop the self. Instead, it's a starting point for people to get to a point of self-sufficiency where they can then go on to help others. If you manage to earn a lot of money because of what someone taught you about personal finance, I believe you should both share that knowledge with even more people and contribute some portion of it to charity. The world needs a lot of help and inspiration. Once you're on your feet and feeling good about yourself, you should share both with your family, community, and humanity at large whenever possible.

b) to teach readers...

The second clause states the intended content. Again, this is my attempt to differentiate myself from other self-help writers. The goal of life is not to earn a lot of money (in fact, I intend to die penniless), nor become famous (though I have no qualms about dying famous). Same goes for indulgence, power, and so on. These are the things we default to pursuing when we lose track of what really matters. I think the goal of life is merely to enjoy the time we have on this earth, the main obstacles of which are anxiety, depression, and an ultimate failure to climb Maslow's hierarchy. If money and fame help you do that, then so be it. But better paths, in my opinion, are inner peace, humility, love, and gratitude.

The second part of this clause defines my methods. As an INTJ (The Scientist), my life is a love-affair with evidence. I am simply incapable of believing something that doesn't have any supporting evidence discovered through legitimate science. Not all my actions are based on belief, but I'm not going to dedicate my life to building habits which I have no scientific reason to believe are positive. Furthermore, I hold my conclusions to high standards. Correlation does not imply causation, and almost any evidence not produced in a laboratory has confounding factors. Even psychological "science" gets it wrong half the time. Don't take anything on this site as gospel, but neither do I just make things up.

The third part of this clause is that my advice is action-oriented. Some of it will be theoretical, but if I say you should be doing something, I tell you how to do it. In detail. With steps. I try to make it as easy as possible, because if it's not easy, you're just not going to do it.

c) to maintain...

The third clause sets the tone. As much as possible in the context of an advice blog, I'll try to stay away from a didactic tone. I don't believe it's 'my way or the highway.' There are a million good ways to do anything. I agree with Steve Kamb (Nerd Fitness), who says, "The BEST workout and diet plan is the plan that you actually follow through with." If you disagree with me, I beg you to let me know. If you have a way to do something that works for you, don't change just because I hypothesized I might have a better way. If it works, it works. Don't let me discourage you.

Beyond that, if I come off as didactic, lecturing, snide, mean, arrogant, know-it-all, or asshole-ish, please let me know. You won't have been the first person to say that to me, and it's helpful to me to hear that. I can only improve with feedback.

A quick word on optimism. I know for a fact that we can affect the world through action. I am optimistic that we, as a species, will get better at making our world and ourselves better. I am not sure that will happen, but I hope it does and I feel we're capable of making the world better.

However, I don't think optimism is healthy when it's unfounded. If I'm optimistic that I'll win the lottery and I don't save for my retirement because of it, that's not a good thing. But I do think that we can afford to be optimistic about the things we control, and that optimism is helpful in empowering us to make difficult changes. Let's call my philosophy realistic optimism. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

Last Word

I rail against goals and then I give my site a mission? What's the deal with that? If you read it closely, you'll notice that while I call it a mission, it's not really something I hope to accomplish-in-the-end so much as do-regularly. I'd like to think I've already done a good job of following through on this mission, but if you start to feel like I'm not following this path, I'm empowering you to hold me accountable for it. You know my mission. Let me know if I'm not doing it.