In my final weeks as a student at Harvard College, I have been reflecting on the purpose of my undergraduate education. I have thought about how I got here from four years ago, reexamining my goals at the end of high school and their evolution through break-ups, internships, all-nighters, intimate conversations, explosive confrontations, failures, and successes. While my collegiate experience is probably below average — measured by the quintessential (late-night) college endeavors, which diminished exponentially after my second year — I have remained faithful to my pursuits to learn how to (1) think and (2) make real-world impact.
By no measure (that I would accept) have I proven that I know how to think or make real-world impact. However, from my encounters with technologists and social entrepreneurs, professors and CEOs, angels and hedge funds, I have gained some insight into what does not work in this world: A set of principles that I have let float in my head for some time reveal a hint of timeless wisdom.
- Figure out why you do what you do (don’t wander aimlessly and don’t commit to more than you have the time and motivation to complete!).
- Concentrate on what’s important to you in both work and personal life (don’t misprioritize! or, prioritize well!).
- “Family, friends, work, in that order” (don’t sacrifice “life” for “work”!).
I hope to come back to this list and add more. Most people who are thoughtful about these things have read the usual books (as I have): Seven Habits, The 8th Habit, Randy Pausch’s lectures, etc. Hopefully, this serves as a concise reminder of the nuggets of wisdom that all of us (usually) passively receive but tend to forget just as easily.