There are many ways to construct a personal life philosophy but for those who do not know where to begin, this recommended process may prove enlightening:
Step 1 – Commit to the Process
Develop an awareness and a curiosity about what it means to have a philosophy of life and the value it provides. Having the interest and the desire is essential to maintaining a commitment to the hard work required.
Step 2 – Formulate Key Questions
Construct a list of questions that a philosophy of life might seek to answer. Take an interest in how philosophers and scientists have sought to answer these questions and their justification for those answers.
Step 3 – Study Human Nature
Engage in an honest and forthright study of human nature. The bedrock of any credible philosophy must be built on an understanding of what it means to be human. Seeking perspectives from a variety of sources and disciplines offers the best means of deriving a breadth of understanding.
Step 4 – Discern Criteria for Truth
Establish a criteria for discerning what is true. This often relates to the important question “What is reality and how can we know it?”. It is generally both the most important and most difficult question that any would-be philosopher must answer.
Step 5 – Reconcile Beliefs with Criteria
Subject your core beliefs to the established criteria for discerning the truth to ensure consistency and intellectual integrity. If your core beliefs cannot be successfully filtered through the established criteria, you must reconcile the difference and adjust either the criteria or the core beliefs.
Step 6 – Conduct a “Self” Assessment
Perform an accurate assessment of who you are in the context of what it means to be human and the criteria by which you discern what is true. Quantify your knowledge, skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, passions, and interests. Develop a vision for yourself in terms of what you would like to become or represent. Establish one or more life goals that align your interests and passions with your knowledge and skill sets.
Step 7 – Document Philosophical Answers
Document the answers to the important questions and coherently summarize them into a philosophical document. Putting your ideas in writing is essential to ensuring coherence for oneself and for others.
Step 8 – Seek Peer Review and Feedback
Seek out other philosophically minded people to review the philosophy to test for consistency, coherence, and intellectual integrity. Welcome the questioning of your beliefs and a review of your self-assessment. Peer review is paramount to avoiding confirmation bias and self-deception.
Step 9 – Devise Core Principles
Establish the core principles, values, and moral precepts by which to hold yourself accountable to living in accordance with the philosophy. A philosophy is only as good as the behaviors and outcomes it engenders and the degree to which one is committed to it. The measure of a philosophy is the degree to which it works. If it does not work, change it.
Step 10 – Implement Evaluation Methods
Implement feedback mechanisms to evaluate the philosophy in general and the specific merits of those principles, values, and precepts. Revisit areas of concern, resolve contradictions, rethink parameters, and edit the philosophy as necessary. This ensures that your philosophy is fluid, ever-evolving, and offers the prospect for continued improvement over time.