On finishing what you start, Stoic letter

In life, sometimes it’s more important that you see your plans through until the end than to have the perfect plan. I remember when I was in my first year of university and so many of my classmates were doubting themselves. We studied industrial chemistry, and many weren’t sure about whether the degree would be exactly what they needed.

My friends would constantly look at other degrees and compare. “What if I should get a different degree?” I did none of that. Back then, I also had no clue what I wanted to do after I graduated. I knew one thing: I had made a decision and I was committed to stick with it until the end. It was just four years. I knew that I didn’t want to be in a specialized field, so I didn’t worry about whether my degree was perfect. I focused on studying, enjoying my time at college, and making sure I finished my degree within four years.

Out of the people I knew who quit the degree, most became chronic quitters. One of them truly was at the wrong place. He ended up becoming a physiotherapist. Sometimes, you make the wrong plan and start going in the wrong direction, and you really do need to course-correct.

We need to be self-aware enough to realize whether we want to quit because something is hard or are on the wrong path. Too often, we put too much weight on our decisions, which causes anxiety and overwhelm. The reality is that many things are not permanent. You can get a degree in business and end up working in art. You can have a job at a restaurant, and end up as an investor.

Life is long. Sometimes we pursue things that don’t work out. But as long as you focus on seeing things through, you become stronger and smarter. If you do what you say, you become reliable. This is something the Stoics often talked about. To them, living according to Stoic values mattered more than what you did.

How you do things is what matters. Here’s what Epictetus said: “Once you undertake to do something, stick with it and treat it as something that should be carried through. Don’t pay attention to what people say. It should not influence you in any way.”

Once we set our minds to doing something, we will not only have to deal with our own inner resistance, but as Epictetus said, with what people say. “Are you sure this is the right thing?” That’s something people often ask us when we want to do something new, whether that’s picking a career, starting a business, getting married, pursuing a degree, traveling the world, you name it.

When asked, “Are you sure?”, many of us start doubting ourselves. Maybe the person asking the question wants to help you to think things through, or maybe they purposefully want you to doubt yourself so you don’t take action. It doesn’t matter whether people have good or bad intentions.

What matters is that you don’t let people influence you. If you want to do something and you know it’s the right thing to do, go for it. Finish what you start. As long as we’re not harming others (or ourselves), we can pursue anything we want. Just make sure you carry through your plans. When you do that consistently, you can truly rely on yourself. After all, you know that you will do what you say. You can trust yourself. All the best.

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Edward Eni

Edward Eni

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The Mediocrity Slayer | Creating that ripple effect of awareness and positivity | Spreading knowledge to help others get their mind and their lives right.