Unlocking the Essence of Self-Realization: A Journey Beyond Self

Dominick Barbato, MBA
3 min readFeb 15, 2024

In the vast world of philosophical wisdom that has shaped the human experience, there lies a simple yet profoundly transformative statement.

“ First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”


This ancient guidance, though centuries old, resonates with the same vibrancy and relevance today as it did in the stoic halls of yesterday. It’s a call to self-realization and purposeful action that beckons us to explore its depths, not just as an intellectual exercise, but as a lived experience.

The Foundation of Intention

The journey begins with intention. Epictetus, in his succinct wisdom, invites us to first define ourselves — to look inward and articulate who we aspire to be. This is not a superficial layer of self-identification, but a deep, soul-searching inquiry. Who do you want to be? What values do you wish to embody? This step is crucial, for it sets the compass of our life’s journey. It’s about painting the portrait of our ideal self, not with the hues of the world’s expectations, but with the colors of our true essence and deepest aspirations.

The Path of Action

The second part of Epictetus’ guidance — “and then do what you have to do” — is about translating our intentions into reality. It’s a call to action, but not just any action. It’s an action that is aligned with our true self, an action that is deliberate and purposeful. This is where many of us falter, caught in the web of procrastination or the fear of failure. Yet, Epictetus reminds us that the essence of becoming is in the doing. It’s in the daily choices, the small steps forward, the resilience in the face of adversity.

The Harmony of Being and Doing

What makes Epictetus’ words so powerful is the seamless harmony between being and doing. It’s a reminder that our actions are most potent when they spring from the well of our true selves. This alignment is the heart of authenticity, the essence of a life well-lived. When what we do echoes who we are, we move through the world with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

To live by Epictetus’ words is to embrace a life of continuous self-reflection and growth. It’s to wake up each day with the intention to be our best selves and to lay down at night knowing we’ve moved, even if just a little, towards that ideal. It’s a challenge, undoubtedly, but also an invitation to a life of profound meaning and impact.

A Beacon for Our Times

In an era marked by constant change and uncertainty, Epictetus’ quote shines as a beacon of clarity and direction. It reminds us that, amidst the noise and haste, the truest path forward begins within. It calls us to be architects of our destiny, empowered by self-awareness and propelled by purposeful action.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let us hold fast to this wisdom. Let us define ourselves with intention, act with courage, and live with purpose. In doing so, we not only realize our fullest potential but also contribute to a world that reflects the best of who we can be.



Dominick Barbato, MBA

27 | Entrepreneur | Educationalist | Vending Business Owner | Speaker | Marketing Chair at NBVA.org |