The Daily Stoic for May 2nd. “Be the person you want to be”.
“First tell yourself what kind of person you want to be, then do what you have to do. For in nearly every pursuit we see this to be the case. Those in athletic pursuit first choose the sport they want, and then do that work.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.23.1–2a
In one of the podcast episodes from the minimalists, about “priorities”, Joshua and Ryan make a very good point. You cannot have “many” priorities, because a priority, by definition, is something so important, that you regard it as more important than the rest of things. Something that you put above everything else.
I mention priorities because when you ask, “what’s your priority in life”, or “what are your priorities in life”, most people don’t have a clear answer. Or at least, they don’t have a global, long term answer.
On Freedom And Decisions
Back when I was in high school, I knew I was good with computers, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do in life. I decided to study computer science engineering just because I knew how to program and liked computers… That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that one of my first memories is my father sitting me on his lap to show me how to use a Commodore 64. I was 4 years old.
However, was it what I really wanted to study?
Then, during my last year at college, I was offered a position in the AI department at the University to work and get my Ph.D in Artificial Intelligence. I said yes because I didn’t want to end up in a cubicle.
Then, some years later, I grew disenchanted with the University and ended up in a cubicle. I worked there, feeling miserable for years… Until I quit.
That, was the first moment in my life when I took the helm to become the person I wanted to be. Up until that very moment, I had not really been the owner of my life… I had just been going with the flow.
Be The Person You Want To Be
During our daily lives, we need to pay attention to lots of different things. Our working routine, family, friends, meetings, duties and chores… Sometimes, that mad rush prevents us from thinking long term.
However, in my opinion is important to stop and think if we are going in the right direction. You need to ask yourself if you are making the right decisions to be the person that you want to be. And if the answer is “no”, do something about it.
It took me more than 30 years of my life to realize that simple truth. It’s easy to delude ourselves in this “here and now” flow of events. Maybe because it’s scary to make the changes you need in your life to be the person you want to be.
Don’t be afraid of tomorrow. Live the present, but don’t use it to hide your real yearnings.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Be the person you want to be”, contains a wise word of warning. In spite of routine, work, family obligations and other duties, it’s important to stop for a moment and think if our actions and decisions are taking us in the right direction, and are leading us to become the person we want to be.