The word sacrifice may at first seem to have negative connotations, but in many senses that isn’t true. Sacrifice is often about prioritization and discipline, since we don’t always have the space or time in our lives to accommodate all the things we would like. It seems to ring true that at times, you’ve got to lose some to gain some.
When your diary is chock full of activities, you may not even have the time to think about what is really important, never mind actually setting cogs in motion. Even when you do have aspirations, right action is required if you are to manifest the things you really want in life. The reality is that you may well need to give up or deprioritize certain things that are not so important in the grand scheme of things.
This makes sense in so many aspects of life, be it material possessions, relationships, career and business, social status, or simply that familiar ‘comfort zone’ we all have a tendency to languish in from time to time. In this article, we’ll explore the common life situations in which it is often necessary to make a few sacrifices to get ahead. We hope this inspires you to evaluate your life honestly, with a view to creating the best possible future for yourself.
As with most things in life, it’s all about perspective. The way you perceive things relates directly to your quality of life, so having a healthy attitude to sacrifice will shape your experience of it. For one thing, the perception that we are ‘losing’ or ‘giving up’ something can translate to a feeling of lack. This makes you want to fixate on what you once had but now do not. Even if you can’t help but feel like you ‘lost’ something, remember that loss (and pain) often leads to learning, growth and the ability to persevere.
Here is a healthy way to look at sacrifice: sacrifice often determines your level of success in life. Through choice (and therefore intention, the most powerful force in nature) you are creating the space for something bigger or more fruitful. Even if it has not yet arrived, by dropping what is less useful long term, you are giving yourself the time and space to cultivate the most appropriate environment for its reception.
It also helps to remember that life is not all about ‘winning’. It never was and never will be, since life isn’t a competition or a race. We can never truly predict outcomes anyway; we can only determine the most attractive direction and go with the flow, while taking positive steps toward our goals. Therefore it makes sense to become clear on what is most valuable to us in life, before honestly assessing what is holding us back from that - and then finding the strength to let those things go. This is the behavior that propels you toward your ultimate vision.
Where is sacrifice required in your life?
Making sacrifices that affect other people is one of the toughest. Like it or not, our closest people tend to have expectations of us (to some extent, at least) and vice versa. Those who want the best for us will surely understand that sometimes you’ll have to prioritize other things, but it can still be hard to ‘let people down’, especially when there are perceived consequences to this.
One example of social sacrifice might be missing out on an exciting event with friends because you need to put the study time in before an exam. No matter how tempting the invite is you know it’s not really worth it, so you make the sacrifice. Your sacrifice might be something as simple as turning down a lunch date to go to the gym (or work out at home) because your fitness is the priority.
Sometimes it’s very hard to say no. You may worry that saying ‘no’ will make you less likeable, or that you might lose friends or not receive future invites. However, anyone who genuinely respects and likes you will recognize that sometimes you have to make the effort to stay on track with important goals or objectives.
This can be a tough one, since in relationships the emotional aspect is quite compelling! Emotions are an incredibly powerful force, and they can sway us from smart decision making… even the slightest bit of confusion about what is the ‘right’ thing to do can lead to procrastination or paralysis.
This is one of the more serious types of sacrifice. We not only have our own feelings to consider, but those of others too. It feels like a big responsibility… and yet it happens to us all. We really have to be smart about who we give our precious time to. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, sometimes they can be more of a ball and chain than a positive contribution to our lives.
When a relationship is no longer serving us, we need to overcome the fear of grief, resentment, burnt bridges or whatever is plaguing our imagination. We must make the space for uplifting, valuable relationships and this means letting go of stagnant or unfulfilling relationships. Otherwise we simply don’t have the time and space for new ones.
This is another tough one. You have a job that is paying the bills; perhaps it is even covering an active material life… but it’s leaving you cold and you can’t see a long-term future in it. Perhaps you can envisage your dream job, but you know that the steps toward this are a massive study commitment followed by a drastic pay cut. The fruits are there on the tree, but they’re neither low hanging nor ripe at this point. What do you do?
The longer you have been in your current job or career, the harder it may be to sacrifice it. This is when you’ll need to muster all your strength and faith in yourself and life. There may be no guarantees, but if there were, life would be pretty boring! The saying ‘leap and the net will appear’ really applies here. Even if the net doesn’t appear, the important life lessons that come from this process may lead to a whole new direction you wouldn’t otherwise have considered.
For a successful (or fulfilling) career you may have to make sacrifices in terms of time, fixed income, stability, familiar colleague relationships, maybe even home or proximity to family. It is scary. Your whole life may change, but the result might be a deeper education, your own business, personal freedom and huge financial gains… eventually. Ultimately you’re sacrificing short-term comfort and security for future success and happiness. You’re playing the long game, which takes strength and resilience… but how good will you feel when you reach that place?
Sacrifice in health and wellness can also be a tough one until you get into the swing of things. Whether you need to do it because of illness, you need to diet to lose some weight, or you just want to cultivate better health and vitality, sometimes changes are necessary. You may need to totally change your diet, which means learning about new ways of cooking and sourcing ingredients. It could be more expensive, or it could take up a lot of time initially. You may have to give up foods that you love, which warrants discipline. These are often worthy sacrifices!
Perhaps splashing out on a personal trainer, gym membership is required. It may be that you need to find extra time in an already busy routine, but the rewards will be worth it in the end. We often don’t recognize what we are missing until we have found it, as we are so accustomed to our current state. Once you have achieved true health and wellness, regardless of the effort you had to put in to get there, you won’t want to look back.
As with all necessary sacrifices in life, the journey may not be easy, but when you keep in mind that you are making changes in order to create a better future for yourself, the journey gets a little easier. Whatever sacrifices you decide to make, congratulations on your strength and determination!