Are you intimidated by the prospect of becoming an individual? This week, I discuss how to start your journey to become virtuous.
Table Of Contents
- The Intimidating Reality of Personal Greatness
- The 4 Ways To Get Started
- 1) Understand what’s waiting for you on the other side
- 2) Track your efforts
- 3) Fight your vices
- 4) Take care of your responsibilities
- Once You Get Going, It Will Be Hard To Stop
The Intimidating Reality of Personal Greatness
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
When faced with the world’s issues, where should you begin? It is easy to become overwhelmed. Once you feel overwhelmed, you become uninspired and bitter. We become angry at others, ourselves, and the world. And we make no progress.
But the individual cannot ride his ancestors’ coattails, praying to be saved from oblivion. There is no collective sin. Mediocrity arises from the individual, regardless of the greatness he steals from others. And life’s problems come from individual weaknesses.
If we are serious about our lives and the future of our society, individuals have to endure personal responsibility. But where does one start on such a magnanimous journey?
The 4 Ways To Get Started
Schools, families, churches, and other formative institutions do not invest in individual self-improvement. We are not taught how to sustain ourselves through gardening or proper exercise at school. We are not taught or modeled self-control and empathy within our families. We are not told how respecting and demanding virtue from ourselves and others is critical to our faith.
Institutions create weak-willed, small-minded people who cannot face the world’s horrors. Thus, when we are old enough to see our deficiencies, we cannot correct our flaws without feeling overwhelmed.
But we can start right here, right now. The following steps will get you moving forward. Once you start, it will be hard to stop.
- Understand what’s waiting for you on the other side
- Track your efforts
- Fight your vices
- Take care of your responsibilities
1) Understand what’s waiting for you on the other side
So ignore their lies. Remember that starting this journey will give you all the relief you need from your fear, anxiety, and pain.
- What’s at the end of exercise? A stronger body, smaller medical bills, and greater independence.
- What’s at the end of studying? More skills, employment opportunities, money, and confidence.
- What’s at the end of freeing yourself from vices? Less shame, more time, greater self-love, and so on.
The more virtuous you are, the less anxiety, regret, and guilt you will feel. The more virtuous you are, the more capable you become of facing life’s inevitable difficulties. And the more virtuous you are, the more you can help others.
2) Track your efforts
You should track your actions daily, even if you are not pursuing virtue. Awareness of your actions and behaviors creates the foundation for real, meaningful change.
A clear roadmap of your actions presents the foundation for making improvements. Start tracking your activities without any end goal in mind. Just focus on becoming aware of your day. Once you see what time you are wasting, you will value starting now instead of later. Furthermore, you can make plans: start cutting back a vice here, substituting time there.
3) Fight your vices
If you want to start at self-improvement, reducing your vices requires little reflection. You don’t need to know your life goals or how to build a community. You can start now and figure everything else out later.
Start with more minor vices: overeating, watching TV, etc. Cut them back and repurpose them into hobbies and rewards. When you fight the smaller ones, turn to the more significant vices.
Combatting your iniquities is a life-long process. But such a battle can be taken up at any moment, making it an excellent place to get started.
4) Take care of your responsibilities
Above all else, you need to attend to what you are responsible for. You must attend to your family, excel at your job, and care for your health.
Taking care of your responsibilities helps with a few things:
- It will lower your stress as you attend to what you must do. You must work, live in your body, and be with your family. If you ensure all these things are done, you won’t have to worry about them.
- Attending to your responsibilities provides clear benefits. For example, you may get a raise if you excel at your job. You can use that extra money to invest in your hobbies and goals.
- Lastly, you have your responsibilities now. If you don’t know where you want to go or what you need to learn, you can at least focus on your daily duties. Excel at your obligations while discerning your life’s purpose, the skills you wish to learn, and the community you want to build.
Once You Get Going, It Will Be Hard To Stop
Individualism is the philosophy of personal greatness. However, personal greatness is, well, personal. You must decide what magnanimous life you will lead. No one else can make that decision or walk that journey.
Getting started on the journey is difficult. What should you do? What resources do you need? Where can you possibly start?
Luckily, the above steps will get you started. You can work on all those steps right now. And the sooner you begin, the more you can accomplish with the beautiful life you’ve been given.
“Make the choice and leave aside the wishes.” – Mwanandeke Kindembo
- What do you wish to accomplish with your life? What is holding you back?
- Are there any positive changes you’ve made recently in your life? How has such a change affected your mood? Your daily life? Your view of yourself?
- Are the people around you indifferent, supportive, or hostile to your virtuous ends? Can you define your virtuous ends? Or do you feel aimless? Or too steeped in your vices?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.