Sacrifice? It’s a choice

I recently read a post from a fellow athlete I follow on social media about the hard work and effort he puts into his training and athletic career. He also, quite rightly, pointed out it was all totally his choice – he chooses to give up other things in his life in order to follow his dream as an athlete. As much as it is hard work, it is no different to a lawyer, banker, entrepreneur, professional etc. who works hard and gives up other things in their life to create and maintain their career or business. So, when people say, “Oh but you’ve sacrificed so much to get here,” have you really?

I’m not a fan of the word “sacrifice”. We don’t have to sacrifice anything, we choose to do or not do. I so often hear people talking about how much they have to “sacrifice” in order to achieve a goal – they can’t eat chocolate if they want to lose weight, they can’t be the CEO of a business and have time to spend with their family, or they have to go to that meeting otherwise nothing will get done. They have to “sacrifice” certain things in order to be successful in other areas of their life. Yeah, that’s not true. The thing with high performers is, they don’t actually sacrifice anything.

Choices and priorities

It comes down to choosing your priorities – how much do you really want to be healthy and feel good? How much do you really prioritise spending time with your family? What will attending every meeting that lands in your calendar actually achieve? Is eating that chocolate now really going to help you get to your overall long-term weight goal? Is taking an extra hour to spend with your family one morning or afternoon really going to impact the overall business vision or outcomes? Would empowering others to make decisions without you relieve some of your pressures?

For an athlete, their priority is to win, better their performance, make the team etc., therefore, their choice is to forego anything that doesn’t contribute to that overall outcome. In business and life in general, it’s exactly the same. We’ve talked a lot in the past about context or purpose, and this is a really good example of using your context to help drive your decisions and choices.

Ask yourself, what actions do I need to take in order to achieve the outcome I want? Which actions serve my purpose and which ones are just distracting me from moving forward? How much energy do I really want to spend on this? How much energy is it going to take if I’m not focusing on the actions that drive outcomes?

You can have anything you want, just not all the time

For my athlete friend, he knows he can be high performing, achieve his goals, and drive outcomes. He also knows that with that comes the choice that he probably won’t be the most social person during his full time sporting career, he won’t be running a Fortune 500 company, he won’t be out partying every weekend or eating whatever he wants whenever he wants. But none of those things help him achieve his purpose right now. He can definitely have them later, if he wants to.

The way we view things, our perspective and our mindset, contributes significantly to our actions. If you are viewing your choices as sacrifices, that will impact how you go about your activity. Remember, our brains are wired to be negative in order to keep us alive. By simply rewiring your brain and changing your language, all of a sudden, we have opportunities, options, choices. And it doesn’t feel like we’re sacrificing at all. In fact, we can do anything!