Aside from a legitimate reason to indulge in doughnuts and latkes, Chanukah is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness. It’s a lesson that we can continue to apply in our own lives, centuries after the Chanukah story.

It’s easier to conquer the world than to change one character trait

I can’t personally speak on behalf of the Maccabees themselves, but my guess is that if I were a Maccabee, it would be easier to fight the Greeks than it would be to work on my own personal middot, character traits. It just seems so natural—so human, even—to blame, criticize and judge others. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and effort to be really in touch with our own character defects and to humbly work on them.

What would victory look like?

So, taking a page from the Chanukah victory, what would a personal victory look like? Would it be a tranquil Friday afternoon, a peaceful visit with the in-laws, or finding that last tiny cruse of patience that will last all eight minutes of tooth-brushing with a cranky toddler? Identify where you need to change, and take those bold steps towards your goal.

An idea is something we do

We are a smart nation, full of smart ideas. You don’t want to be someone who lies down at night with a head brimming with fabulous ideas, and then be that person who lies down 24 hours later with the exact same thoughts, the pattern repeating ad infinitum. An idea is something we do. So, whatever flashes of insight you have into personal victories, start the ball rolling, speak to others, and work out what victory would look like.

Baby Steps

However bold your idea is, be prepared to break it down into small steps. People don’t lose 100 pounds overnight with good intentions and lifestyle changes. Change takes time; often it means giving yourself small, bite-size goals to reach, celebrating your goals, and then setting new goals. Just like the candles on Chanukah—step by step, light by light.

How can I have a better relationship with my future self?

Personal victory ultimately boils down to truly knowing yourself—the good, the bad, and even the ugly—and working strategically and honestly on becoming an even better version of yourself. It also involves developing a healthy relationship with your future self. That enables you to step out of the I-want-it-now stage and reflect on the ramifications of your choices 48 hours from now.

So, ignite your true potential and reveal that victorious side of yourself. Happy Chanukah!