THE CHOICE IS YOURS

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Do you have something you want to achieve? The majority of people have aspirations, goals, and dreams – things they want for their lives. It could be personal, financial, or business related. It could be any number of things. Unfortunately, more often than not, we allow things to get in the way of these goals, or we make excuses for why we have not yet achieved them, and, in some cases, we even self-sabotage to prevent ourselves from actually achieving what we desire. Often times, though, we have yet to achieve our desired state because we have not yet laid out the road for which we must walk. 

EMBRACE THE MOMENT

A lot of the time, we know what we want, but we do not make strides to go after the desired goal because we do not know how to. We make excuses for ourselves such as “well, I don’t have the time right now, but in a month I will”, or, “well, I need to do X, Y, and Z before I can do anything else”. The problem with these excuses, and any excuse we make, is that it provides credence to inaction. One cannot achieve a goal or reach a desired outcome if they do not take appropriate steps towards that goal.

This is one of the biggest problems with “the law of attraction”. Many people think that all you have to do is believe in it and it will somehow come to you. What many fail to acknowledge is that the law of attraction, a vision board, or any other goal planner is only the first step. You must then take the second step to achieve the goal, you must take action, and after that you will need to take the third, and the fourth, and the fifth step. It is a constant effort to achieve what you want, but it all begins right here by embracing the moment and your goal. 

If you’re having trouble starting, change your mindset a little. Remember that time on this earth is limited. It is the most valuable resource we have. Therefore, learn to embrace the here and now. 

Think of what Epictetus said in the following Fragment:

Truly it is wonderful to love a thing for which we perform so many services every day. 

Embrace what you have in the present moment, even if it is nothing more than a repetitive task you have to perform for work. Master that task. Your dedication to a single task and the mastering of it will carry over into other aspects of your life. That same dedication to something you may not want to do will transfer to your dedication to what you do want to do. Learn to grow yourself. Embrace the fact that you have control over the events of your life.

This is a cause for celebration because it means you have control over how hard you want to work towards your goals. Maybe you work a full-time job and only have time for yourself at night. Or the side business you have been trying to start is not growing as fast as you want it to. Embrace your time away from your goal. Use it as a way to let your mind rest from what you want to achieve so that when you do have the time to work on it, you can approach it with fresh eyes. 

It is within your power to choose how and when you want to put in the work. But do not let this “absence of pursuit” become an excuse. 

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius reminds himself that he is in control of his life and what he makes of it:

All those things at which thou wishest to arrive by a circuitous road, thou canst have now, if thou dost not refuse them to thyself.

It is up to you to decide when you want to achieve your goals. But by no means does this mean it will be easy, which is why one who wishes to achieve their goal must embrace the here and now and go after it relentlessly. By embracing the goal, you understand the journey. You understand the end result of that goal is not the final destination. There is no magical time where everything just clicks and you have everything you want. Work must be put into our goals if we want to achieve them. We must embrace the journey to achieve our goal. It is through the journey that we learn more about ourselves, our goals, what works, and what doesn’t. Or as Ryan Holiday states in Ego is the Enemy, “You must sweep the floor every minute of every day. And then sweep again.”

CREATE YOUR BLUEPRINT

Okay, so you know what you want. You have picked your goal. You have stopped making excuses for why you don’t have it or haven’t yet taken action. You have faced the hard reality that it will take work, that no magic potion will achieve it for you. You have admitted (perhaps doggedly) that you are committed to achieving your goal and no longer making excuses. You take a breath and are ready to begin. 

But where do you start?

You first must create a blueprint for yourself. Everyone’s goal or desire will be different so therefore every blueprint will have its own unique needs, but that doesn’t mean you cannot borrow their methods. I have found that the easiest way to create a blueprint to achieve a goal is to pyramid your goal (which I previously wrote about here). The idea of the pyramid is to place your goal on the top of the pyramid, and then take a hard, honest look at each layer beneath it, each layer representing a different phase of the process for which you need to complete in order to get to the top of the pyramid (and achieve your goal). 

Each phase itself may be a single action or may have multiple actions involved. 

Find your goal or thing you wish to achieve. Create a plan and strategize about how you will achieve it. 

Let’s look at how this article came to be as a quick example of the process: 

Top of Pyramid

Article on Having the Choice to Take Action

So I knew I wanted to write an article that was about choosing to take action on one’s life and providing some necessary steps to achieve that. This is the top of my pyramid for this article. The goal: write an article detailing/showing how people can achieve success in their lives through a simple process of creating a blueprint for their desires/goals.

Second Level of Pyramid

Write draft(s) of article

But in order for me to have that finished article ready for you to read, I had to first take the steps necessary for it to happen, I had to write a draft, or in this case, several drafts of the article until I felt like it was ready to be shared. This phase involved writing numerous drafts, expanding the article, then shrinking it in length, removing some material while putting in others. This was all about molding the product to how I wanted it to look and flow in its final form.

First Level of Pyramid

Research quotes and tactics for article. Outline main points. 

Before I could even start writing a draft of the article though, I had to know what I was going to talk about within the article. This meant I had to flush out my idea, create an outline for the main points I wanted to talk about, and find the appropriate quotes I wanted to use within the article. This was the easiest part of the article for me because it was something that I did over the course of several weeks, just throwing together bullet points, beats, and quotes, and allowing a very rough idea of what the article would look like to form in my head. 

So if we look at this from the beginning, we would see something like this:

First Level – Come up with goal (Write article about having choice to take action on one’s life). Then I had to execute on that idea and put together the appropriate material to help me succeed at my goal. From there, I was able to write the initial draft of the article (Level Two). But in Level Two, I learned not everything I thought for the initial outline would work, so I had to rewrite the article until I thought it was acceptable to share. Which brings me to the top of the pyramid, which is my completed article which you are now reading. 

Is it perfect? Hardly. Did I finish it? Yes. Did I learn from the experience? Absolutely. I will be better next time because of it. And this is what life is about, trying, learning, and repeating. I set my goal, understood my levels of the pyramid and what would need to be put into each, and over time chipped away at the appropriate phases until it was complete.

So once we have our goal and have laid out the blueprint for how we will achieve it, we must learn to…

TAKE ACTION

So now you have your goal and you have your blueprint for how you will achieve it. Now what? Well now you have to go after it. 

You must take action.

You must pursue the goal. 

Start with the base of your pyramid, making sure to do all of the appropriate things necessary to keep the pyramid stable. The bottom of the pyramid is your foundation, if it is not thoroughly thought through and executed, the later phases will have gaps as pressure moments. The base is the most important aspect of the pyramid model. 

You must understand that you will, in all likelihood, fail. This is not the end. Failure in any pursuit is nothing more than an opportunity to learn. Did Thomas Edison create the lightbulb on his first try? No, not even close. He also had hundreds of patents which went nowhere. Do you know why? Because it is all about testing ideas and blueprints, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then learning and growing from those experiences. 

Understand that failing at your goal is part of the process. Learn from those failures. Get back up and keep going. Every successful person started in the same place, everyone who has achieved anything had to start by setting a goal, strategizing on how to achieve it, and taking a step towards it, no matter how big or small.

Your goals are achievable. They are within your reach. Set the goal. Strategize how you will attain it. Make incremental progress towards it. Learn from your mistakes and failures throughout the process. Keep pushing on. 

Epictetus reminds us of the need for action in the Discourses when he says:

Every habit and faculty is preserved and increased by correspondent actions; as the habit of walking, by walking; of running, by running. If you would be a reader, read; if a writer, write. But if you do not read for a month together, but do something else; you will see what will be the consequence. So, after sitting still for ten days, get up and attempt to take a long walk; and you will find how your legs are weakened. Upon the whole then, whatever you would make habitual, practise it; and, if you would not make a thing habitual, do not practise it, but habituate yourself to something else.

You need to move and take action. Don’t sit and wait. Go after it. 

It is within your power to achieve what you desire. 

Don’t waste time.

You are the pilot of your own life. 

Embrace the moment you have. Create a blueprint for what you want. Take action to achieve it. Repeat as many times as necessary.

The choice is yours.  

WANT MORE?

We’ve enlisted the help of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca to assist us in providing even more additional guidance to help you live your most virtuous life. Want to see what wisdom they have to provide? Complete the form below and join our private monthly newsletter. Oh, and did we mention there’s also free goodies for signing up?


The Stoic Within

The art of living a virtuous life.

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