January 5

IN every affair consider what precedes and follows, and then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit; but not having thought of the consequences, when some of them appear you will shamefully desist. “I would conquer at the Olympic games." But consider what precedes and follows, and then, if it be for your advantage, engage in the affair. You must conform to rules, submit to a diet, refrain from dainties; exercise your body, whether you choose it or not, at a stated hour, in heat and cold; you must drink no cold water, nor sometimes even wine. In a word, you must give yourself up to your master, as to a physician. Then, in the combat, you may be thrown into a ditch, dislocate your arm, turn your ankle, swallow abundance of dust, be whipped, and, after all, lose the victory. When you have reckoned up all this, if your inclination still holds, set about the combat. Otherwise, take notice, you will behave like children, who sometimes play wrestlers, sometimes gladiators, sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes act a tragedy, when they happen to have seen and admired these shows. Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a gladiator, now a philosopher, then an orator; but with your whole soul, nothing at all. Like an ape, you mimic all you see, and one thing after another is sure to please you, but is out of favour as soon as it becomes familiar. For you have never entered upon anything considerately, nor after having viewed the whole matter on all sides, or made any scrutiny into it, but rashly, and with a cold inclination.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §15, ¶1.


  1. Wow such good advice for the hectic world that we live in. How many of us have prepared to start something but never prepared to follow it through to its conclusion. We need to prepare for everything completely, pondering all of the aspects of the action until its completion.

    Wow I wonder how many marriages and other relationships could have been saved with total preparation?

  2. In everything you do consider all the possible requirements and outcomes, and only then, if it still seems good to you, go ahead and do it. If not, you'll start with blind optimism because you haven't thought of any of the consequences, then when difficulties arise you'll quit. Study your goals and intentions, then commit to them with all your soul, knowing the ways in which you may fail. - Lessons from Epictetus