2 min read

How can I have the biggest impact on the world?

The desire to help others is a universal human feeling. Most of us do so on quite a small scale. I've always wanted to maximise my impact on the world but I've never known how to do this. Here I share some of my thoughts on this existential question.
How can I have the biggest impact on the world?

Key Insights

  • If you're younger than 25, focus on developing yourself before trying to change the world

As a first-generation migrant, I've always recognised my presence in this country as a privilege. My birth in Australia places me within the top 1% of the world in terms of financial situation, and I haven't done anything to earn it. It could've easily been some other Sri Lankan Tamil family that migrated to Australia instead of us, but it wasn't. As a result, I've always felt this intrinsic desire to give back to the world that gave me this opportunity. I felt like it was my destiny to positively impact the lives of others. I know this may sound pretentious and egotistical, but it has formed the foundation of my ambitious drive.

And so earlier today I started diving deep into the field of "effective altruism". It's something that has been on my radar since 2019 when I watched Ali Abdaal's pledge to donate 10% of his income to the Giving What We Can charity. However, I never explored it properly until now.

For those of you new to this concept, it's essentially about finding out how we can use our resources to have the largest impact possible. For me, this means exploring how I should spend my time and money to positively influence the world in the broadest way.

I've long been pondering this idea, ever since I first started doing charity fundraising in high school. Back then, I was sceptical of charities because they were never clear as to what proportion of money was truly going to the cause and how much the executives were being paid. I always wondered if there was a way to evaluate and compare charities so that we as supporters could choose the most cost-effective ones. Thankfully now there are websites such as GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators that provide this service.

Anyways, after spending a few hours diving down this rabbit hole, what I've ultimately concluded is that at this point in my life, as a 23-year-old student, I don't have the time, nor the money to make a substantial contribution to any cause. Nor do I think it would be the best allocation of my resources to focus on a specific cause now.

So my immediate focus will be on the following goals:

  1. To graduate with a medical degree by the end of 2022
  2. Learn more about myself and become more confident in my identity
  3. Enjoy the unique experiences that I can only have during this period of my life
  4. Continue producing content and growing an audience
  5. Find sustainable ways to earn money so that I can reach my goal of having 16 million AUD net worth by 35.

In order to have the greatest long-term effect on the world, I need to be selfish now and spend my resources on developing me and my skills. That's not to say I won't donate to charity or spend time volunteering. I just think that those are low-yield ways to allocate resources early on, especially if your goal is maximal impact.

I plan to revisit all these ideas about life direction and goals at the end of my internship and at the start of my residency, when I'm thinking more about my career pathway and unconventional medical careers. But for now, I've got plenty of things on my plate without trying to add on the burden of trying to change the world.

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