Many of us have dreams of success. Of the corner office, the promotion, the advanced degree, the greater income.
But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of how to succeed, we’re a little fuzzy. We don’t know exactly what is necessary to achieve what we desire.
Additionally, we underestimate what’s really required to achieve success. We live in a culture of overnight sensations and viral videos. But the reality is, sacrifice is required. In order to get great things, you must sacrifice lesser things. Many of us have trouble knowing exactly what to give up.
What sort of sacrifices are needed? Here are some of the primary ones.
GIVE UP YOUR TIME
Many people want shortcuts-the easy way out. They want success, but they won’t want to put in the time it requires. They want to hit the lottery or get an honorary degree.
The simple truth is that you can’t achieve anything significant without sacrificing time.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a life or spend time doing other things that are important. But you may have to give up, or at least intentionally lessen, the amount of time you spend on activities that aren’t making a meaningful contribution to your life or overall goals. These time wasters may include:
- Leagues of any sort (fantasy football, bowling, etc.)
- Sleeping in late
- Long periods of time to yourself
It’s important to remember that you’re not denying yourself simply for the sake of denial. You’re giving up lesser things in pursuit of a greater goal.
Renowned sales expert Grant Cardone says:
Before 2008, I was playing golf three times a week. I got distracted and entitled, started to rest on my laurels and put my family at risk. I decided to master my work and money; if my golf game or social status suffered, so be it. It’s OK to sacrifice fun today for freedom tomorrow. I sacrifice every day, doing the things I might not want to do, but doing them anyway for a better future.
There are no shortcuts to success. If you’re going to achieve one thing you must always give up something else. You’re not unlimited. You only have so much time and energy. You must choose how you will use your time.
GIVE UP PREDICTABILITY
Pursuing success often means giving up a predictable, easy life.
Pursuing your dream may require financial sacrifices. While we certainly would never encourage anyone to put themselves at risk, you may need to give up those expensive vacations and four dollar lattes. This may mean changing your status quo.
Pekka Koskinen says:
When I founded my first startup, Snoobi, I had to make some tough sacrifices. I’d just graduated from university and didn’t have any money. I got a job as a university researcher and used the money to pay half of the salary of my first employee. I sold the other half of his time to another company, which eventually gave my startup enough budget to pay his full salary and run some ad campaigns. For one year, I worked double hours and managed to make ends meet until I accumulated the necessary seed financing to quit my day job and concentrate fully on growing the business.
Usually, pursuing a dream is like a riding a rollercoaster. You have days when you feel on top of the world and others when you’re plunged into a serious valley. Though this instability isn’t pleasant, success requires it.
GIVE UP EASE
There’s no way around it: if you want success, you must give up an easy life. You’ll need to prioritize and schedule your life in order to accomplish your goals every day.
Your success flows out of your priorities. You’ll need to carve out specific time for things like faith, prayer, work, family, exercise, social engagements and more. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone or something else will force their priorities on you.
If you fail to prioritize your life, crucial areas will go unattended. Your spiritual life may falter or your health may take a hit. Your family may feel neglected. There are ways to be balanced and successful, but it takes diligence and watchfulness.
This is especially true if you have a family. Achieving success will require living a hectic life. It may involve things like taking your kids to soccer practice, doing work in the car while they’re on the field, going home to eat dinner as a family, putting the kids to bed and then working until you go to sleep. This is anything but a peaceful life.
This doesn’t mean you won’t have times of quiet to recharge, but they’ll certainly become less frequent—at least for a while.
If you’re the kind of person who absolutely has to have peace and quiet, you’ll need to prioritize it in your schedule. Maybe you’ll need to get up an hour earlier or schedule lunchtime walks. Maybe you’ll need the occasional prayer retreat. If you want these things to happen, you must plan for them.
GIVE UP SOME SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
There are some social connections that are indispensable: family, intimate friends, spiritual life (church, etc.). Without these connections you’ll grow shallow and shriveled. You need to be sure to always cultivate your body, soul and mind.
But you’ll also need to evaluate if you have any negative relationships in your life that are hindering you from pursuing success. Negative people can be particularly detrimental to your success, whether through constant criticism or other means.
Success expert Jim Rohn says that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Are your five pushing you toward success or weighing you down?
GIVE UP UNHEALTHY CHOICES
If you pursue success at the expense of your health, ultimately you’ll fail. Your body will break down and you’ll end up being exhausted, burned out and maybe severely sick. In an effort to pursue your dreams you can actually sabotage yourself.
Maximum achievement requires making consistently healthy choices. You need to eat food that fuels you for your work, exercise consistently and get a healthy amount of sleep every night.
In some ways, this may feel counterintuitive. Making healthy decisions takes time. It takes an effort to go to the gym and go to bed early. But you are ultimately making yourself more productive by choosing to take care of the only thing that can lead to your success: you.
In the book “Essentialism,” Greg McKeown writes about sleep:
The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people—especially ambitious, successful people—damage this asset is through a lack of sleep.
You can’t neglect your health and expect to consistently achieve success.
GIVE UP IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION
We live in an age of immediate gratification. Want to watch a movie? Hop on Netflix. Want Chinese food? Order takeout. Want to see what your friends are up to? Send a text or check Facebook. We can usually gratify our desires in just a few minutes.
Achieving anything notable takes time. If you’re accustomed to instant gratification, you’ll feel frustrated when your goals don’t appear quickly.
Bill Gates says:
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. You can apply this principle to almost any time frame. We overestimate what we can achieve in a week and underestimate what we can achieve in a month.
Gary Vaynerchuk says:
I’ve learned the importance of sacrificing short-term pleasures for long-term happiness. Life is a long game, and when you start a business, you’ve made a decision that doesn’t allow any time in year one to focus on anything but building it. I’m talking code red, 18-hours-a-day dedicated…But in two or three years, when I’m taking my kids on business trips and showing them the world, we’re reaping the benefits.
Are you willing to put Facebook on hold? To give up a Saturday at the movies and focus on work? To put in long hours and burn the midnight oil? It will be difficult but it will also be worth it.
No one ever said success is easy. In fact, we can promise you that it will be difficult. You’ll encounter challenges you never expected and be forced into new and uncomfortable situations.
But the rewards will be worth it. You’ll look back on the sacrifices and be grateful that you put in the time and sweat equity. You’ll appreciate the long hours and hectic pace.
The great soccer player Pele said:
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Your success won’t happen by accident, but if you love what you’re doing it will be incredibly rewarding.
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU SUCCEED
At PGS, we want to see you succeed, which is why we offer several resources to assist you in your educational journey. Check out our Academic Support page to discover resources to help you thrive!