Course Meeting Times

Lectures / Discussions: 1 session / day for 3 days, 3 hours / session


This course provides an exciting, eye-opening, and thoroughly useful inquiry into what it takes to live an extraordinary life, on your own terms. The instructors address what it takes to succeed, to be proud of your life, and to be happy in it. Participants tackle career satisfaction, money, body, vices, and relationship to themselves and others. They learn how to address issues in their lives, how to live life, and how to learn from it.

This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month. This not-for-credit course is sponsored by the Department of Science, Technology, and Society. A similar, semester-long version of this course is taught in the Sloan Fellows Program. A semester-long extension of the IAP course is also taught to the population at large of MIT.

Learning Objectives

When students have completed this course, they should be able to

  • honestly evaluate where they are in life
  • identify what next actions will allow them to fulfill their vision of life
  • create a life vision
  • make and execute an action plan


An inquisitive nature and willingness to face the truth are required. Students should also have completed assignment 1 beforehand. In addition, an open mind, a love of life, and a desire to make changes are helpful.


This course is not-for-credit. Everyone passes by completing the assignments. The value of the course is commensurate with the depth with which participants engage with themselves in the assignments.

Course Outline

Introduction to Course and Background

1. Dynamic between introspection and setting goals, ending with results.

  • Define your vision and design your life
  • Determine where you are
  • Figure out who you are
  • Account for excuses
  • Identify excuses and fears
  • Love your choices

2. Elements of living an extraordinary life and developing a personal integrity

  • Live by your values and start telling the truth
  • Link goals with action
  • Make promises
  • Be accountable for meeting goals
  • Empowerment; understand your own power and capability

3. Uncovering paradigms and theories in your life

  • Regular thought logs: where are you spending your mental energy?
  • Piecing together patterns and themes
  • Where do those themes come from? History?
  • Where you've been truly impacts where you're going
  • Authoring new themes
  • Understanding the truth

4. Communication

  • Grace versus wisdom
  • Balance in communication
  • Challenging ingrained assumptions of others
  • Honesty about yourself and others

5. Applications

  • Career
  • Leadership roles
  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Personal growth
  • Inspiration to achieve what one really wants



Designing your life

Elements of living an extraordinary life

Uncovering your theories of life

Access to change

Principles of communication

Change through telling the truth

Impact of your past on your current life

Assignment 1 due 2 days before Ses #1


Personal integrity

Assignment 2 due

Why tell the truth?

Grace and wisdom

Make peace with your flaws and where you are a jerk

Go for what you truly want

Assignment 3 due