You can see it as clear as day:
- An 8-bedroom house beside the beach
- Annual 3-month vacation to exotic locations
- The people you once dreamed of becoming are your best friends
You vision your success so vividly, it’s as if you’re already there.
You don’t consider the sacrifices for success—all the things you gave up to reach that level.
No one ever talks about making sacrifices to achieve their goals.
You only hear about the good stuff. They tell you how fulfilling it is to read messages from the people they’ve helped and how relieving it is to never have to worry about paying the bills.
Before these icons of success reached the level they are today, they struggled.
They lived in less-than-ideal circumstances while chasing their dreams. Some moved in with their parents. Some went bankrupt. Some sacrificed their relationships.
These successful people pushed aside their personal lives to reach where they are today.
I’m writing this now not to put you off your goals. I’m writing this to prepare you for what’s ahead.
Deliberately, giving up on the aspects I discuss below won’t make you a successful person. When you dedicate your life to your goals, you will neglect some aspects of your life inevitably.
Behind the Scenes: The Sacrifices Successful People Have Made
“Successful people are lucky.”
So many people hold this toxic belief it’s sad. Yet, it’s no surprise that this belief is so widespread.
Successful people make it look easy. One day, they’re a nobody. The next, they are on the news for their latest achievement.
Their overnight success took them years to achieve. It cost them their health, money, sanity, and relationships.
Some of the most successful people shared the struggles they’ve faced.
When Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, founded his first company, he didn’t have an apartment. He rented an office and slept on the couch, showering at the YMCA. He would work on his website all night, 7 days a week.
(You can read his story here.)
John Hanna, author of Way of the Wealthy, lived with his mother away from his wife and son while he got his business off the ground because he couldn’t pay rent.
Steve Harvey’s dream was to be on TV. In pursuit of his dream, he became homeless. He lived in his car for 3 years. All that kept him going was the belief that one day he would make it. He lost everything he had, not once, but twice.
Today, he hosts The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Family Feud, Celebrity Family Feud and the Miss Universe competition.
Jeff Bezos quit his high-paying job to build his dream. He aspired to sell books online on a digital bookstore called Amazon.
He started building the now multinational technology company from his garage.
Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, grew up in poverty. Before opening his own coffee shop, he had to sell his own blood when money got tight.
He truly paid for his success with his sweat and blood.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, was rejected by investors multiple times.
In his first 3 years of business, he didn’t make a single dollar in revenue. He pushed through it anyway to create that multi-million-dollar business Alibaba is today.
Lilly Singh was told by her parents she had one year to make her YouTube channel a success or she’d have to return to the psychology major she hated. She now has her own late-night TV show.
The Beatles, the most famous rock and roll band in history, played for 7 years in little bars across Germany and Europe before getting their big break.
In their early days, Lennon and McCartney sacrificed their education, ditching school to write songs.
These household names didn’t take a helicopter to the peak of the mountain. They climbed up themselves and gave up a lot to get there.
Peter McWilliams said it best:
“You can have anything in life you really want – but you can’t have everything in life you really want. Decide.” Click to Tweet
The Sacrifices for Success
Everything comes with a price. To attain your success, you have to give other things up.
That leaves the question:
What do you have to sacrifice for success?
Given the choice, would you take a 3-day vacation to Cancun fully paid or spend those three days searching for and reaching out to influencers and mentors in your field?
The 3-day vacation sounds delightful. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
But then again… getting the attention of those influencers could transform your business.
You could take the vacation and email the influencers when you come back. You decide to postpone your success.
That’s the wrong choice. Success doesn’t wait for anybody. You push aside your goals once, then twice, then a third time—until one day, years have passed and you’re in the same place.
You won’t be offered a fully paid, 3-day vacation in Cancun. You will have tons of opportunities to do something entertaining instead of working on your goals.
Your friends will invite you out. A festival might happen near your house. A movie will premiere in your local theater.
If you’re chasing success, you’ll have to pass on each of these experiences. You will be tempted to go out and have a good time.
2. The Now
Time is like money. You can spend it, waste it, or invest it.
When you have $100, you’d like to enjoy it. You could eat a fancy restaurant or get a massage. Alternatively, you could invest it. You renounce your current desires in hopes of a better reward later.
To acquire success, you have to invest your now.
In the moment, you’re dying to know what happens next on the latest Netflix series. Once you’re done with that, you hop onto Instagram to laugh at some memes. These activities are fun now, but don’t lead to long-term success.
Successful people give up what they want now. They keep their focus on what they want in the long-term.
3. Social Life
Some of your friends will be supportive of the life you’ve chosen to life.
Others will laugh at your decision to stare at a computer screen when you could be hanging out with the most awesome people on earth (them, of course!).
Relationships are demanding. For some unknown reason, people need more care than house plants. You have to chat with them every now and then and meet up during the weekends. You know, socialize.
Here’s the problem:
Time spent socializing is time not spent on creating your dream life.
On your journey to success, you will lose touch with some of your friends.
You will have to make the choice between nurturing your relationships and drafting your pitch to investors.
There are days when I am so consumed by work that I don’t even see the people I live with.
A few weeks ago, I had an entertaining conversation with an acquaintance. I would have loved to connect more, but I was working on three projects, and have I mentioned how time-consuming socialization is?
This isn’t just limited to your group of friends.
I’m sure you know a few people who barely spend time with their children and others who’ve had a divorce because their spouses were never available.
Your social circle is crucial to your life satisfaction, so I recommend that you tend to it.
You know that cozy feeling when everything is going just the way you want it?
That’s what you feel when no growth is happening.
Your comfort zone is the enemy of success. It pulls you in with claims of ease, keeping you away from anything that could cause you the mildest distress.
Success necessitates that you stretch your comfort zone repeatedly.
- You don’t like initiating conversations? Too bad because you need to grow your network.
- Hate being in the spotlight? Put yourself out there anyway.
- Feel uncomfortable asking for help? You’re going to have to do that, too.
- Only submit work that’s perfect? Oh well, that project needed submitted yesterday.
If your voice shakes while giving a presentation, then so be it! As a successful person, you do what needs done.
Accomplishing anything requires time. The problem is you don’t have any.
(Not Enough Time? Here are 5 tips to create time for what matters.)
Time is scarce in today’s 9-5 society. To achieve your goals, you have to wring your days like a towel to find those spare moments in which you can work toward your ambitions.
I’m not just talking about the three hours of quiet time you have after dinner. You’ll have to give those up. But that’s not enough.
Your vision is calling you. How long are you going to make it wait?
Watch courses to gain new skills while doing the dishes. Brainstorm ideas while standing in line at the grocery store.
I outline posts while attending college lectures. I read books while commuting to and from school (perks of not having a car 😉).
You can’t wait for that faraway day in the future when you have enough free time to pursue your dreams, so stop waiting. Take advantage of the time you have now. Click to Tweet
(You’re going to die one day, keep that in mind with Memento Mori and live life to the fullest today.)
Yes, I know you are human and not a work machine. Not everyone can manage to do this, but it’s one of the things truly successful people do.
Do You Really Want to Achieve Your Goals?
You won’t achieve your goals if you aren’t willing to give something up in return, be it your time, money, social life, and so on. You can’t give your triumph your all and expect your life to be the same as it was yesterday.
Before you start a goal, ask yourself how badly you want the outcome—and more importantly what are you willing to give up to reach it.
- Are you willing to give up your morning sleep to write an article before work?
- Are you willing to say no to your friends to finish a 6-week course in 2 weeks?
- Will you make these sacrifices daily until you reach your destination?
If not, then consider what you are willing to give up and adjust your plan taking that into consideration.
It’s better to have that insight now then 6 months from now when you’re frustrated because you’ve missed every deadline you’ve set.
Here’s the truth:
Successful people don’t decide to step away from their lives in pursuit of greatness. They go after what they believe in and lose touch with these aspects in the process. It’s the collateral damage of success.
You can pursue your goals in your free time, working only when it’s convenient. But you won’t see results quickly and are likely to give up.
But extremely successful people do it differently. They commit their entire existence to their purpose.
The question you have to ask yourself is:
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