This is that weird time of year where we start to think about how we want the following year to go. We start thinking about what we call “resolutions”—the promises we make to ourselves about what we’re going to do in the next 12 months. The habits we’re going to quit, the skills we’re going to learn, the standards we’re going to hold ourselves to.
On the one hand, it’s a wonderful and inspiring bit of reflection that the whole world basically comes together to do this at the same time. It’s excellent that everyone has finally decided to get in shape, to stop smoking, to try to give back more, to commit to being a better friend or relative, to read a certain number of books. But it’s strange that everyone puts it off for so long—we treat our self improvement like it’s a school project we hope might just complete itself, praying that maybe our parents or teacher will handle it for us.
Well, they won’t.
Epictetus asked, why is it that we wait to demand the best for and of ourselves? It’s crazy!
Here you are today, staring down the barrel of 2023. And while the best time to demand the best for and of yourself was years ago, the second best time is right now. Put the missed opportunity behind you and repeat this passage from Epictetus,
“From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event.”
Can you do that? Can you start right now? No more putting stuff off. No more, “I’ll start on Monday.” No more “in the future, I’ll do better and expect better.” No. Demand the best for yourself now.
It’s what a grown up does.