-Epictetus

Cultivate the habit of surveying and testing a prospective action before undertaking it. Before you proceed, step back and look at the big picture, lest you act rashly on raw impulse. Determine what happens first, consider what that leads to, and then act in accordance with what you’ve learned. When we act without circumspection, we might begin a task with great enthusiasm; then when unforeseen and unwanted consequences follow, we shamefully retreat and are filled with regret:. By considering the big picture, you distinguish yourself from the mere dabbler, the person who plays at things as long as they feel comfortable or interesting. This is not noble. Think things through and fully commit! Otherwise, you will be like a child who sometimes pretends he’s a wrestler, sometimes a soldier, sometimes a musician, sometimes an actor in a tragedy. Unless we fully give ourselves over to our endeavors, we are hollow, superficial people and we never develop our natural gifts. We’ve all known people who, like monkeys, mimic whatever seems novel and flashy at the moment. But then their enthusiasm and efforts wane; they drop their projects as soon as they become too familiar or demanding. A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Average people enter into their endeavors headlong and without care. Perhaps they meet with an exemplary figure like Euphrates and become inspired to excel themselves. It is all well and good to do this, but consider first the real nature of your aspirations, and measure that against your capacities. Be honest with yourself. Clearly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Do you have what it takes to compete at this time? It is one thing to wish to be a champion or to do something skillfully; it is another to actually do it and to do it with consummate skill. Different people are made for different things. Just as certain capacities are required for success in a particular area, so too are certain sacrifices required. If you wish to become proficient in the art of living with wisdom, do you think you can eat and drink to excess? Do you think you can succumb to anger and your usual habits of frustration and unhappiness? No. You will have to overcome many unhealthy cravings and knee-jerk reactions. You will have to reconsider whom you associate with. Are your friends and associates worthy people? Does their influence—their habits, values, and behavior—elevate you or reinforce the slovenly habits you wish to escape? The life of wisdom, like anything else, demands its price…You can only be one person—either a good person or a bad person. You have two essential choices. Either you can set yourself to developing your reason, cleaving to truth, or you can hanker after externals. The choice is yours and yours alone. You can either put your skills to internal work or lose yourself to externals, which is to say, be a person of wisdom, or follow the common ways of the mediocre.
-Epictetus