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8 Things Successful People Sacrifice For Their Success

8 Things Successful People Sacrifice For Their Success

Four years ago, I went through one of the most difficult times of my life. I’d recently given birth to my third child. I was breastfeeding up to 6 times in a night. My husband was working night shifts. I was also trying to get my writing career off the ground. I would often feed my daughter and type with the other hand. I had broken sleep for months on end and still took my other two children to school on time. I made many sacrifices to follow my dreams. And every single one of them have paid off in the end. If I hadn’t made those sacrifices, my writing career wouldn’t be where it is today.

In order to achieve what we really want in life, we have to make sacrifices. Here are 8 things successful people sacrifice for their success.

1. Time

I am often asked how I juggle being a mother of three young kids, with work and study. I often jokingly respond with, “Lots of coffee.” But in reality, it’s how I make use of time. Truth is, there are so many things to do in a day – it’s not about having enough time, it’s about making use of your time. We all have the same 24 hours and we all have the opportunity to use our time wisely. When we sacrifice time, we’re prioritising a certain task over another one. That task and all the others we accomplish – are the key to our success.

I write to-do lists every day and I stick to them. I set my own deadlines. I try my best not to procrastinate. But if I do, I don’t beat myself up about it. Negative self-talk and thinking, “I wish I had more time” simply takes away the time you still have! You can think, “I only have 20 minutes to do my work.” or you can think more positively, “I have 20 minutes to do my work. If I use this time wisely, I’ll be 20 minutes closer to finishing the task.” If we don’t make better use of our time and achieve our small goals, then we’ll never achieve the bigger ones that are most important to us.

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2. Stability

My family has always been on one main source of income. Although my writing pays, it doesn’t provide us with the stability of a second income that we require. In order to follow my dreams, we are sacrificing stability and leaving ourselves with unpredictability. There are weeks in which we earn more money than others. There are weeks in which I have no articles to write and others in which I have two to write several every day.

It’s not the most ideal way to live your life, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make to move my career forward. Successful people have to deal with instability, financial or otherwise, and their life can feel like a rollercoaster. But the good news is, roller coasters go down but they also come back up. If we don’t risk instability, we’re giving up the chance to make our lives better.

3. Personal life

I have been happily married for almost 7 years, but we’ve had our challenges. There are times where I have sacrificed time with my husband to finish an article on time. There are times where I postpone a playdate with another mother to a more convenient time. When we are determined to succeed, we have to make changes in our personal lives – in our friendships and our relationships. It’s not about neglecting your loved ones – it’s about working around your personal life.

Each one of us has their responsibilities and sometimes we simply have to compromise with other people. If we don’t learn to say ‘no’ or give up a night out with friends to study/work, we are the ones who suffer. These are the moments in our life when we have to think of our needs, be sensitive to our loved ones’ feelings and hope that they’ll understand that we need to do what’s best for us.

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4. Sleep

There are nights in which I plan to take a break from writing and I fall asleep on the couch. As much as I’d love to be in bed cuddling with my husband, I know that things will not be like this forever. When I’ve had a much needed nap, I wake up feeling very refreshed. It’s late at night, everybody is asleep and I’m feeling energised. Some nights I really push myself but I always try my best to sleep 6 hours a night. And if I can’t, I make up for it another night.

Sometimes, no matter how productive you are during the day, you need those extra hours at night. Without those extra periods of peace and quiet, you may not be able to get everything done. For those wanting to achieve success, the rewarding feeling they get when they’ve accomplished their task always makes the reduced amount of sleep worth it.

5. Health

The reality is, when we’re determined to achieve our goals, we might start to neglect our bodies and our minds. We start to eat less healthy, do less exercise or maybe reduce it to none at all, we might even put our emotional and mental health at risk. It may not be the most ideal thing to do, but those determined to be successful know that it’s only a temporary solution.

We may not be able to put our full attention into our physical, mental and emotional health but we have to be aware of when our body is being overworked. Successful people may start to neglect parts of their life in order to improve other parts of their life. But this can only last for a while. Sooner or later you have to live a healthier life or you’ll regret it in the future.

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6. Quiet times

My life is pretty jam packed at the moment. I’m often rushing around trying to fit everything in. My husband and I want to move to a bigger house. We want to give our kids more room to play in, more room to entertain their friends, a more comfortable house for them to grow up in. So this is why my life is so busy at the moment.

I work from home to support my husband’s income. I study from home so when our kids are at school full-time next year, I can have the qualifications to look for a job. I always keep in mind that I need to cherish the moment, but I know that I need to plan for the future as well. Successful people know that the busyness will not last forever.

7. Sanity

There are days when I’m feeling more stressed, tired and overworked than on others. There are days when I question whether what I’m doing is really worth it. But I know it is. Working hard towards our big goals in life was never meant to be easy. These goals and aspirations for the future are meant to test us, challenge us, and help us to realise how badly we really want them.

Maybe your family and friends call you crazy for working so hard. But you need to do what’s right for you. Don’t forget to take breaks, to relax when you really need to, to take time out for yourself. But know that in those temporary crazy moments, you are a step closer to having what you truly want.

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8. Immediate desires

There are so many things that each of us wants right now. Things that might encourage us to procrastinate when we really shouldn’t. We might want to do something simple like check our Facebook feed. We might want to do something more significant like buy a new car. But the question is – what is most important to us? We have to make the choice between our immediate desires and the needs that will propel our dreams forward.

Fact is, it’s not wrong of us to have these immediate desires, these temptations to choose the ‘easier’ option’. It’s normal to feel that way. However, when we sacrifice what we want right now, we are saving our time and energy for something more important. Something that will bring us one step closer to our real goals. Something we truly want, not just something we want right now.

Maybe we don’t want to sacrifice our time, stability, personal life, sleep, health, stillness and sanity. Maybe it just feels too difficult. But I’ll tell you right now, I’ve sacrificed every one of these things at one point or another. I wouldn’t have gone from writing on a personal blog to working as a freelance writer/journalist, if I had chosen the easier option. I wouldn’t have grown as a person if I hadn’t made those sacrifices either.

If you want to be successful and achieve what you really want in life, you’ll have to make sacrifices. But when you reach the end of that mountain, you’ll be so very glad that you never gave up the journey.

Featured photo credit: Close up of handsome young businessman via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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