Before Benjamin Franklin became a famous author, inventor, scientist, musician, politician, and of course, the father of printing, he set many goals for himself to improve his character. At the age of twenty, Franklin created a list of thirteen values and virtues to which he aspired. The rest is history. Franklin went on to become one of the most successful people in all of history.
Here’s a list of the thirteen virtues which Franklin committed himself to:
- Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
- Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
- Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity. Rarely use venery, but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
At the age of 79, Franklin wrote in his autobiography that he was unable to achieve his goal of attaining perfection. However, he did say: “Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”