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Desire Graphs

When I was younger and full of energy, all I wanted to do was to get into NOC.

Furthermore, I had a vague idea that I wanted to help the world, informed by my readings about effective altruism.

To achieve my myriad goals, I tried to do many things. But in hindsight, I got bogged down by petty things. For instance, I wanted with all my heart to be accepted into NOC because I thought that was the only way that I could be successful, because for some reason that’s the picture I had in my mind of a successful software engineer. I was crushed when I didn’t achieve my dream for the first time.

This is when a desire graph could have helped me. It’s a technique that I developed a rcouple years ago that has sharpened my thinking a lot about my life direction.

This is what my desire graph looks like.

Desire Graph!

I’ve thought of doing a tool to make a desire graph, maybe that’ll be a fun personal app idea / project to do.

Here is a step by step process on how to do it.

  1. List out everything that you do

Yes, everything.

A list might include

  • studying for a paper
  • having a girlfriend
  • going to the gym
  • Go up

With a child curiosity, ask yourself “why?” What is the purpose? Create a new node and point the previous node at it.

You may see that two things that you do may be for the same purpose; this is valuable. Point them to the same node.

  1. Eventually…

Eventually, you’ll reach your highest want or desire. This is something that has no why, or the reason may be “if not, then I will live for nothing”.

After it all, you can look at your graph, and trim and refine it.

What can you notice? Are there any wants that, upon reflection, you don’t actually want after all?

Look at some of the goals. If they are high enough, google them if they are sufficiently googlable. How often do the articles and studies of how to achieve this goal mention each of the subgoals that serve this goal? Is there anything that you would add? Anything you would remove?

Imagine yourself completely failing to achieve some goal. How does it affect its supergoal?