How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?

Really, how long?

Michelle Okafor
3 min readJan 7, 2024
A ladybug visiting the vegetable patch.
Photo by author

I am going to start with the full quote here.

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them.

What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man.

If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.

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.

That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates.”

- Epictetus (From Manual 51)

The first time I read this quote, I had to put the book down. I was gobsmacked, that someone could call you out, so sincerely, so earnestly, so passionately.

At this point, you have two options. One is, that you can dismiss it and go on as before. What does he know anyway?

Secondly, you can heed the call. These are just many of the subtle cues for personal transformation and self-improvement. It may have come at the wrong time. You’re not ready, which is ok. Every day that you postpone the work on yourself is a day that you won’t get to eat the fruit in the future.

Maybe you are quite comfortable where you are right now. That’s ok, but is there a chance that it could be better? There is always room for improvement. Don’t let inertia hold you back.

Your life could be infinitely better in 6 months’ time if you are willing to start putting in the work today.

“Nothing important comes into being overnight; even grapes and figs need time to ripen. If you say that you want a fig now, I will tell you to be patient. First, you must allow the tree to flower, then put forth fruit; then you have to wait until the fruit is ripe.

So if the fruit of a fig tree is not brought to maturity instantly or in an hour, how do you expect the human mind to come to fruition, so quickly and easily?”

- Epictetus

I hope you heed this call. I want the very best for you, just as I want for myself. The road becomes shorter if you have company.

“Those who complete the course will do so only because they do not, as fatigue sets in, convince themselves that the road ahead is still too long, the inclines too steep, the loneliness impossible to bear and the prize itself of doubtful value.”

- Thabo Mbeki

No longer will we put our destiny in someone else’s hands. Everyone has a unique path set out before us. Let’s continue to walk it and endure what must be endured. It’s only through struggles that a man will really know what he is capable of. Don’t deny yourself that.

Let’s complete the course.


Ps. Follow me on X — @MichelleJOkafor for daily motivation and self-improvement tips.



Michelle Okafor

Writer of short, inspirational pieces. Make the most of your time here, for we pass this way only once. See the good in yourself and others.