Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.
What Success Demands From You…
No matter what goals or aspirations you might have, there is one thing certain: There is a price you must pay to get what you want in life. In fact, there is no sidestepping the fact that any type of success demands something from you. It’s simply the way life works and rarely will a shortcut ever get you there.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what success in any field of endeavor may demand from you:
Success Demands You Show No Fear
Fear is something that is likely to consistently hold you back from your desired objectives. Success demands that you overcome your fears and develop the necessary courage you need to pursue your goals with vigor, passion, and zest.
You must successfully strive to overcome, or at the very least successfully manage the fear of uncertainty, the fear of failure, the fear of getting rejected or criticized, the fear of making mistakes, the fear of change, and even the fear of hard work. These are all common fears that hold people back from the life they want to live. However, they can’t hold you back, because success demands that you have no fear, and if you want to achieve any kind of success in your life, then this is something you must successfully work through.
Success Demands Unwavering Commitment
When you are fully committed to something, nothing will sidetrack you. It doesn’t matter whether or not the sun comes up tomorrow, or whether or not the earth stops spinning on its axis. Okay, well maybe these are far-fetched examples, however, I hope you get the point. It’s important that you are fully committed to your endeavors without allowing things to pull you off track.
Don’t just commit to your goal. That’s not enough. Success demands far more than that. What success demands from you is that you fully commit to being extraordinary, to being courageous, to being disciplined, and to being accountable for your decisions and actions. Success also demands that you have an unwavering commitment to excellence, a commitment to persevere despite the inevitable setbacks that life will throw your way, and that you are committed to taking consistent action daily towards your objectives.
It’s the dedication you show on a daily basis towards your desired outcomes that will make all the difference in the end.
Success Demands Believing that Failure is Not an Option
Success in anything you do is riddled with problems, mistakes, and the inevitable failure. These things are unavoidable. You will face these circumstances sooner or later on your journey. However, it’s not the circumstances that matter, it’s rather what you believe about these circumstances that makes all the difference in the end.
You must believe that no matter what happens — no matter how badly you fail and how horrible this might make you feel — that failure is never an option. Success demands that you pick yourself up after a failure or mistake and try once again. Yes, change your strategy and do something a little (or a lot) different, however, you must keep going — just keep moving forward with passion and a strong sense of purpose that no matter what you will eventually get to your ultimate destination.
Success Demands You Make No Excuses
Excuses are for those people who live with constant regret about the things that they could have, should have or would have done if… These people never achieve their desired long-term outcomes because their excuses get in the way and prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities that problems present them with.
Success demands that you take full responsibility for everything that happens to you without blaming others or blaming external events or seemingly uncontrollable circumstances for your problems. You are responsible for your decisions and actions, and as a result, you never make any excuses, fully understanding that excuses only lead to further problems — they most certainly never help you solve them.
Success Demands You Make Difficult Choices
As you make progress along your journey towards your desired outcomes, success will demand that you make difficult choices about what you will do and about what you won’t do. It demands that you choose what you will and won’t sacrifice. It demands that you decide what’s the most important thing to focus on at any one time. Success demands that you choose who you will spend your time with, keeping in mind that the people you spend the most time with could either help or hinder your progress.
Most importantly success demands that you make difficult daily choices about how you spend your time, energy and money. You must consistently invest your energy into meaningful tasks and goal congruent activities that will provide you with the highest long-term benefits. Spending your time on the wrong things could very well spell the difference between success and failure.
Success Requires Sacrifice
The goals and objectives you have in mind will not magically manifest in your life. You will need to work hard and potentially make some drastic sacrifices along the way.
Success requires some kind of sacrifice. You will not gain something for nothing. That’s not how the world works, and it’s therefore certainly not something you can bank on. If you’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to attain your goals and objectives, then you will fail to create the momentum you need to get your desired outcomes.
Anything you want in your life is essentially unattainable. It’s unattainable if you do not give something up in order to get something back. Giving something up could come in the form of your time, energy or money. You might need to sacrifice one of these things, or maybe a combination of these things in order to get what you want.
Here are some sacrifices you might need to make along your journey:
Sacrificing Who You Are
One of the biggest and most profound sacrifices you might undoubtedly need to make along your journey is changing who you are for whom you desire to become — for whom your “goal” needs you to become.
The end goal you have in mind requires that you shift how you think, what you believe, the habits you indulge in, and maybe even the values you live by. In fact, it’s very possible that you might need to become a very different person than the person you are today in order to have this goal in your life. And if you’re unable, or simply unwilling to make these sacrifices/changes, then it’s likely that the goal you desire will always be out of reach. Ask yourself:
What beliefs must I sacrifice to attain this goal?
What beliefs could actually prevent me from having this goal?
What habits and rituals must I sacrifice to attain this goal?
What habits could actually sabotage me from attaining my desired outcome?
What values might I need to shift in order to have this goal?
What does this goal demand that I change about myself?
How will I make the necessary changes?
You need to be willing to sacrifice the person you are today (without this goal) for the person you will be tomorrow (with this goal). These two people are not the same. And if you don’t believe that, then you will soon find out the hard way that life only gives you something of value when you are willing to grow into this new experience on a personal level. This means changing who you are for who you need to become to ultimately deserve having this goal in your life.
Giving Up Something Good to Get Something Better
Attaining your desired outcome might mean that you give up something that feels comfortable, secure and safe in the moment for something that is better long-term. This comes back to the instant gratification trap. Many people are simply not willing to give up their short-term pleasures for higher level long-term pleasures. They are lost in the moment and simply unable to bear through periods of short-term pain that they must get through in order to experience ultimate pleasure in the future.
If you’re serious about attaining your desired objectives, then you must be willing to let go of the small pleasures found in the moment that might very well distract and sabotage you from living the ultimate long-term pleasures that you will experience once your goal has been achieved.
Eliminating Distracting Activities
Your success is dependent on your commitment to eliminating all the distracting activities that could potentially sidetrack you from your ultimate destination. These are essentially the things that you indulge in on a daily basis that make you feel good but aren’t good for you. These are your guilty pleasures such as mindlessly surfing the internet, playing video games or watching television shows and movies. All these things may feel good in the moment, however, long-term they will only delay what you really want most out of life.
Paying the Price in Full
The moment you commit yourself towards the pursuit of a specific goal is the moment you must also commit yourself to the price you will need to pay to attain this goal.
Your goal always comes with strings attached. You simply cannot have your goal without making some necessary physical, financial, emotional, mental, and social sacrifices.
Have a think about your goal and also have a good hard think about the potential sacrifices you might need to make in specific areas of your life to help bring this goal to fruition. Who knows, you might even come to the realization that this goal you want so badly just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Because if you’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, then you shouldn’t be spending your time pursuing this goal. Spend your time instead on other areas that will provide you with a greater return on your time.
Letting Go of Conflicts
Sometimes you will make all these sacrifices to create room to achieve your goal, but you still don’t seem to be moving forward as quickly as you had imagined. This is very typical and it often results from a number of conflicts you have in your life that on the surface may not seem as though they are conflicting with your goal.
First and most importantly, conflicts may arise when you have conflicting goals. You might, in fact, have other goals that you are working towards that are competing for your time, energy and money. You are essentially spreading yourself too thin and as a result, you don’t have the laser focus required to create the momentum you need to get things done.
Have a think in particular about all the small and medium-sized goals that you are consciously and unconsciously working towards. These could be the goals that are sabotaging you from moving forward. You must decide today that you will either change them or eliminate them altogether. There’s no point holding onto these goals if they will keep you from reaching your ultimate destination.
As with conflicting goals, also have a think about any conflicting responsibilities and commitments that you might have. These are the things that are taking up your time and resources that you could instead be investing in your main objective. Cut these things from your life, and you will suddenly find yourself freed up to focus on the most important things in life.
Conflicts can also come in the form of destructive relationships. These are often the people who do not support you or your goals. At other times though, they can actually be the people who support you, however, they continue to sabotage you by distracting you from your highest priority activities. Let these relationships go if you can. There is no point holding onto your past if it doesn’t serve your future.
What it Truly Takes to be Successful
When it comes to making the necessary sacrifices to achieve your goals, it’s critical to gain the proper perspective about what it means to be successful.
There Are No Shortcuts
There are often no shortcuts to success. The only shortcuts to success come from your experience. Once you know what to do and how to do it, you will be much more capable of getting things done the fastest way possible. However, this takes time, and success essentially comes down to your ability to use time effectively. This requires that you focus on the right things, at the right time, in the right way and spend just the right amount of time on them. It’s as simple as that, however, it’s not simple. It’s hard work, and it takes a lot of effort and experience to get things to this stage.
Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to eventually get things to this stage?
Most People Are Not Willing to Sacrifice
The reality of the matter is that most people are simply not willing to make the necessary sacrifices or to pay the ultimate price for success. This is either good or bad news for you. It’s bad news if you’re actually one of these people and not willing to make these sacrifices, however it’s good news if you’re not one of these people because it means that you already have the upper-hand just from the fact that you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to attain your goals and objectives.
Anything Worthwhile Takes Hard Work
Anything that is worthwhile achieving in this world takes dedication and hard work. It requires considerable effort, thought and time invested in performing tasks and in acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, resources, and experience that will help you to ultimately attain your desired outcomes.
The Consequences of Making No Sacrifices
One sure sign that indicates you have not made adequate sacrifices for your goals is the fact that you continue to sabotage your efforts on a regular basis. This self-sabotage might come in the form of being too busy, indulging in procrastination and perfectionism, being constantly distracted with other activities, not willing to give up certain responsibilities and/or commitments, making excuses, etc. All these things are now manifesting in your life as regret and stagnation.
The most important takeaway from this is that your dreams will remain unfulfilled and that your life will change very little until you begin taking responsibility for yourself and commit to making the necessary sacrifices that will change your life for the better. Everything ultimately has a price, and you must pay it. If you don’t, then you will pay it another way by missing out on what you most want out of life.
Paying the Ultimate Price for Success
It’s time for you to commit one way or another. You must make up your mind whether or not you are willing and able to commit and pay the ultimate price for success — the ultimate price to attain your goals and objectives. The decision is yours to make, however, it’s a decision that should not be made lightly. Sacrificing is never an easy thing to do. It must make sense for you and must provide you with long-term benefits that far outweigh the short-term sacrifices you will ultimately need to make. Here are a few guidelines that will hopefully help provide you with some clarity.
Step 1: Clarify What You Want
First of all, before deciding what you will sacrifice, it’s important to clarify what exactly you would like to achieve. Ask yourself:
What do I want?
Why do I want this?
How badly do I really want this?
The more reasons you have for wanting something, the more sacrifices you are likely to make.
Step 2: Clarify Action Steps
In order to determine what you will need to sacrifice, you must first become familiar with the action steps you might need to take along your journey. Ask yourself:
What will I need to do to attain this goal?
What specifically do I need to attain this goal?
Do I need specific knowledge, skills, tools and resources?
Have a think through these questions and take a little time to draw up your plan of action moving forward.
Step 3: Consider Impact of Goal
Take time to consider the impact that the process of achieving this goal will have on your life. Ask yourself:
How will the process of achieving this goal impact my life?
How could it potentially impact many different areas of my life?
How could it impact my relationships with others?
What potential conflicts may arise?
Take into consideration the impact it will have on you emotionally, financially and socially. Think about how it will impact your habits and routines, your priorities, your personal time, and maybe even other goals that you are working towards. And ultimately search for potential conflicts that may arise as a result.
Step 4: Consider Possible Changes
Based on the conflicts you identified within the previous step, take some time to outline the kinds of changes that you might need to make to your life in order to minimize or eliminate these conflicts altogether. Ask yourself:
How must my life change in order to make room for this goal?
How must I change as a person in order to make room for this goal?
Changes must happen in two significant ways. You must first look at ways you can change your life, and secondly, at ways, you can change yourself. If you neglect any one of these areas, then it’s likely conflicts will continue to exist, and as a result, you will continue to sabotage yourself and fail to meet your long-term expectations.
Step 5: Make the Necessary Sacrifices
Having clarity about what it is you want, about how you will get there, about the impact that these goals will have on your life, and about the possible changes that you must now make, hopefully brings some insight into the kinds of sacrifices that you will ultimately need to make to attain your desired outcome. Ask yourself:
What specifically must I sacrifice to achieve my goal?
What will be the impact of these sacrifices on my life?
Will these sacrifices be enough?
Who could shed some light on this?
Asking other people for their insights and perspectives could help shed some light on the kinds of sacrifices that they for instance needed to make in similar situations. This can help you to cover all bases — making sure that you have taken everything into consideration before committing to this goal.
Finally, the ultimate question is:
Am I willing to make these sacrifices to obtain this goal?
If the answer is YES, then also consider:
What if things take much longer then expected?
What if things are much harder then expected?
Given this, will I still be willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices long-term?
Sometimes while deciding to make sacrifices it’s easy to look at the short-term and ignore the long-term scenarios. Maybe you will achieve your goal quickly and it will be worth it. However, just maybe it will take you far longer than expected and as a result, you will need to sacrifice far more than you imagined. If you fail to consider these scenarios, then you will fail to make the long-term changes necessary to create space for this goal in your life.
In the end, if you are not willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices to attain your goal, then either change your goal or dump your goal. There is no point pursuing something you will ultimately not be able to achieve. Yes, of course, the journey is important. However, you will probably be better off spending your time focusing on other areas that will bring you greater rewards long-term.
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Last month, James “Jimmer” Fredette was selected in the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. It was a moment that capped off a breakout season for Jimmer. In his senior year, Fredette captured national attention with his dazzling three-point shooting and led the Brigham Young Cougars to a record-breaking number of wins and the school’s first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in thirty years.
The moment also represented the fulfillment of a contract his older brother had drawn up and Jimmer had signed a few years before:
Jimmer hung this contract in his room and looked at it every single day. “It reminded me of what my goal was,” he said, “and if I didn’t want to work hard or practice that day, I would look at that and think, ‘You have to work as hard as you possibly can and do things other kids aren’t doing in order to be the best and reach your goal.’”
The things the other kids weren’t doing were drills like “The Gauntlet,” in which Jimmer would dribble down a pitch dark hallway at church, as his friends jumped out of classrooms in an attempt to throw him off his game. He also played pick-up games at the local prison, where he learned not to be intimidated by trash talk and extremely tough play.
When college recruiters didn’t come around, having deemed him too white and slow to be a viable prospect, he just kept on practicing and honing his game at one of the few schools to offer him a scholarship: BYU. In the summer after his junior year, he attended predraft camps with NBA teams in order to find the weak spots in his game that needed improvement.
The work paid off when he got to don the Kings’ cap and hoist a NBA jersey on June 23rd. He had made the necessary sacrifices to reach his goal.
What Is Sacrifice?
When we hear the word sacrifice, we often think of completely selfless acts in which someone does something for another entirely for the other person’s benefit. The image of a soldier sacrificing his life for his comrades frequently comes to mind.
But sacrifice isn’t purely altruistic. The best definition of sacrifice is this: “To forfeit something for something else considered to have a greater value.” (American Heritage Dictionary, emphasis mine). Sacrifice does not mean giving up something for nothing; it means giving up one thing for something else we believe is worth more.
This does not at all take away from the virtue of sacrificial acts. Instead of locating the merit of sacrifice in unselfishness, we can find it in a man’s chosen value system. The man who lays down his life for his family or for his comrades has chosen to place more value on their lives than on his own. What is more praiseworthy than that?
The Law of Sacrifice
So if that is the definition of sacrifice, what is the law of sacrifice? The law of sacrifice says that you cannot get something you want, without giving up something in return. In order to attain something you believe is of greater value, you must give up something you believe is of lesser value.
Society today tries to deny the law of sacrifice at every turn, promising people that they can fulfill their desires without having to forsake anything at all. “Lose weight without giving up your favorite foods!” “Get ripped without long workouts!” “Get rich without having to work hard!” The denial of the law of sacrifice is at the heart of things like our soaring credit card debt (US citizens currently hold $886 billion of it), not to mention our national debt. The fantasy that you can have whatever you’d like without ever paying for it is an incredibly seductive fantasy.
But it is only a fantasy. There is always a price to pay.
If you want to lose weight, you have to give up junk food. If you want to get ripped, you have to work out regularly. If you want the nice things in life, you have to work hard and save your money.
Sure, sometimes fame and good fortune seemingly drop into someone’s lap. The law of sacrifice is not as irrevocable, as say, the law of gravity. But as Frederick Douglass said:
“A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing.”
For proof of this, see the cases of folks who win the lottery and then squander it all away.
This is the beauty of the law of sacrifice. Not only is it the only path to achieving your goals, but the path itself prepares you to handle life at the top. Sacrificing not only gets you to your goals, but hones and shapes you as a man along the way.
Why Understanding the Law of Sacrifice Is So Vital to a Man’s Happiness and Success
A man’s ability to see through the cultural smokescreen that obscures the law of sacrifice is absolutely vital for a couple of reasons.
First, the denial of the law of sacrifice keeps a man from progressing in life. To reach your goals, you must move forward, which necessitates leaving some things behind. But the man who believes he can get whatever he desires without sacrifice tries to hold onto everything in an attempt to have it all. Instead of moving forward, he is stretched out horizontally and sitting on the fence.
Whenever I think of the law of sacrifice, I picture the scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Elsa, the hot Nazi babe, is dangling over the abyss; one of her hands is held by Indy while she grasps with the other to reach the Holy Grail, which is just out of reach. Believing she can have the grail and walk away with her life as well, she refuses to choose and give Indiana her other hand, and is thus rewarded with a plummet to her death. Indy almost suffers the same fate; as his dad holds onto him, he too reaches for the grail. But he listens to the advice of his father, and he sacrifices the thing that is worth less–the artifact–for the thing that he values more–his life and the chance for another adventure.
Failing to understand the law of sacrifice also leads to a life of restlessness and regret. When you believe you can have whatever you want, without giving up anything in return, you can never fully embrace and enjoy your choices. For example, sometimes I’ll have a moment where I miss the freedom of my childless days. But would I give up Gus to return to that time? Absolutely not. I sacrificed one thing—more freedom—for something I believe has greater value—a child.
Great unhappiness arises when we fail to acknowledge the necessity of sacrifice and subconsciously hold the idea in our heads that we can have both things at the same time. You move across the country for a new adventure, but you spend all your time missing your old family and friends. You must recognize that you wouldn’t be having the experience you are enjoying now if you had never left. You wish you could sow some more wild oats and sleep with a lot of women, but at the same time, you would never want to give up the incredible relationship you have with your wife. You must embrace the fact that there are trade-offs in life and that you can’t have one thing without giving up another.
The world class athlete or musician gives up time spent with family and friends for time spent honing their talent. The converted religious man gives up old habits for his new faith. The blockbuster actor gives up anonymity for fame and fortune. The burned out employee gives up his six-figure corporate salary to become a high school teacher.
If you are unhappy in your choice, it is because you chose something that you do not really believe to have higher value than that which you left behind. The law of sacrifice reveals and operates according to our personal value system. If we don’t have a cut physique, it is because we value the freedom to eat whatever we’d like more than six pack abs. If we don’t have a 4.0 GPA, it’s because we value time spent with friends more than grades. If you’ve ever wondered why you lack the discipline to attain a certain goal, it is likely because in your heart of hearts, you don’t really value that goal as much as you think you do.
At the end of the day then, the most important question we should ask ourselves when evaluating our dreams, desires, and goals, may not be, “What am I willing to do to attain them?” but “What am I willing to give up?”
Last updated: December 28, 2015