Every day we have 1,440 minutes. What we can do with those minutes is almost limitless.
You can choose from entertainment, building relationships, or creating something. We don’t always realize it, but everything that we do requires sacrifice. If you spend the evening vegging out in front of the TV, you are sacrificing everything else you could be doing: spending time with family, creating something, fixing something. That’s not to say it is a bad thing – we all need a certain amount of down time to let our minds turn off – but realize that you are indeed sacrificing other activities that you could be doing.
There are always things that we would like to do, but we usually find that we don’t have the time or energy to do them. There is always an excuse available, or a reason to push it off. Sometimes, those excuses are valid and we have no way around them; other times, not so much. Really, the issue is simply a lack of willingness to make it a priority in our life.
Every major thing we accomplish in this life took sacrifice to reach. Getting married meant sacrificing your “freedom” to have your life to yourself. To me, this was a no-brainer – I would much rather spend time with a wife who I can love and who can in turn love me, than to be alone and have an illusion of “freedom” to do what I want.
To have a child, get a nicer paying job, finish high school or that college degree – all of it takes sacrifice. And it is fairly easy to sacrifice, because what we gain is way more important than what we are sacrificing.
Make the Decision
The first thing you need to do is to decide what is it that you want to do? It doesn’t matter what it is, but decide on it. What is important in your life that is worth sacrificing other activities in order to do?
Maybe you want to finish watching that TV series, spend more time with family, organize that guild or social group, learn how to play a musical instrument, or in my case, write that book that you have always wanted to write. Or, decide on multiple things, but put them in order of which is the most important.
Then write it down! The difference between setting a goal in your head and writing it down is huge. If it is in your head, it is simply an idea, not tangible at all, and ultimately it holds little sway or influence over you. Once you write it down and put it somewhere, you, and others, can see that it then takes on a whole new power. Now, you are reminded of it, and you allow others to encourage you in the task. Tell others about it, get them involved in your life and your goals (Also, it might encourage them as well!).
The movie Courageous has a scene where all the fathers take an oath together, a commitment to be better husbands and fathers. They wrote the commitment out, signed it, framed it, and hung it on a wall where they could see it and be reminded (You can see the details of this commitment in the book The Resolution, for Men).
I got myself a copy of the certificate and hung it on a wall where I can see it every day. I make it a point to read it every day and to try and focus on one of the goals listed. Writing this out and putting it in the helps keep me accountable and encourages me to continue on – even if I fail, I can try again.
Decide to Sacrifice
Now that you know what it is you want to sacrifice for, what it is you want to accomplish, make the decision to sacrifice for it.
This, I believe, is the single largest reason that people never achieve their dreams. They dream it, but never sacrifice to achieve that goal.
What you have to sacrifice is different based on what goals you have. Do you want to get out of debt? You will have to sacrifice your current lifestyle – maybe eat out less, or trade in your car for something older.
Do you want to be a musician or writer? Stop consuming so much media. It is amazing how much you can get done when you sacrifice non-essentials to obtain it.
It is up to you to decide if it is worth it or not. Is it worth sacrificing the time to watch the list of TV shows in order to learn a new hobby? Is it worth sacrificing that time making a new awesome structure in MineCraft in order to write that book you thought of? Is it worth giving up getting yet another max-level character on the game you like in order to spend time growing closer with your family? Is it worth sacrificing those late nights or a little extra sleep in order to start your day focused on your craft or new career?
I read a blog post recently where someone reviewed the book Manage Your Day-to-Day. In it, there was a quote that I think falls right in line with this:
If we don’t purposefully allocate our attention, someone will steal it.
It is amazing what you can accomplish when you set aside those other distractions and focus on what you want to do.
With my NaNoWriMo challenge, I wrote over 16,000 words, over a quarter of a novel, in 5 days. Amazing! And I’m still going strong. It has meant less time watching TV, playing MineCraft, or spending time with my family (which I have promised to make up next month), but having a finished novel, even if I never get published, will be worth it.
Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life
How much of your life you wasted before today doesn’t matter. What does matter is what you do today, right now.
When I was first getting interested in becoming a writer, I read stories of other authors, and paid attention to many musicians and other people I respected who make a living doing what they love. All of them started when they were younger. They spent a lot of time honing their skills, and they had a lot more time to learn from trial and error.
I got discouraged. I was almost 30 and had not even started writing yet, and it can take years to get published. I know, I know, you think 30 isn’t old, but that still leaves me 15 or 20 years behind some of these other artists who got started at a young age.
Don’t let these thoughts discourage you. Today, you can change your life. It might mean you have to spend more time each day devoted to the craft that you want to learn, but you can do it.
Decide today, what do you want to do? Don’t waste another day of your life distracted by things that don’t matter – stand up and do what you want!