What Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

Most of us want to be successful (whatever that means). We want to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good worker, a good friend. However, often these goals are at odds with each other.

For example, to be a good worker, you might have to put in overtime, which means less time with the family. As a result, you might not be as good a spouse or a parent.

And what if the goal is to not be merely good but rather great or even outstanding in a particular role? Then your ability to be good at other roles becomes even harder. You might be only acceptable, or even worse, at other roles in your life.

In fact, it would seem that if you want to be really good at something, then by necessity other areas of your life will suffer.

Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What do you believe?’

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can only be good at one thing. It is possible to be good at many things. However, the larger the list of things at which you are good decreases the number of things at which you might be great.

Therefore, it is important to set priorities. Determine which aspects of your life are the most important to you. Correspondingly, what are the areas that are not as important? Not that they aren’t important at all, just that they are less important.

This can be really difficult. There are probably some things that you really like that you have to be willing to sacrifice, in order to be better and more effective at what you decide is the most important. Perhaps you are willing to sacrifice your career for your family. Maybe you sacrifice sleep for a hobby. Or maybe a more fulfilling job is given up for a more lucrative one.

For your theoretical list, what are your most important goals? And what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve them? What are you not willing to sacrifice?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How do you define success? Why do we put up with unhappiness? How do you set priorities? What material possession means the most to you? What gives you purpose?


12 thoughts on “What Are You Willing To Sacrifice?”

  1. I sacrifice for my health for a number of reasons.

    Regarding my physical health, I believe I have a natural and compulsive tendency to be overweight. I once weighed 40 pounds more than I do now, and I’d like to shed another 15 off this body of mine. For me, that requires intermittent fasting two to three times each week. This is not fun. It keeps me from some social gatherings (i.e. the compulsion to eat whatever tastiness is placed in front of me). And, I rarely go out to eat — another bummer. That said, I generally like how I look and feel like now. I’d feel even better if I could get to my ideal / healthy weight. I know that reaching that point would mean more of the lifelong struggle with hunger I must deal with now. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s worth the additional sacrifice.

    I must also sacrifice for my mental health. There are certain personal aspirations I once held that, at least for now, seem unattainable. As my mental health doctor and therapist regularly note, “It’s all a cost-benefit analysis.” Do I want to put up with the Anxiety that certain aspirations would require? (I capitalize “Anxiety,” treating it as a dark-force being separate from myself.) For now, the answer is not only “No,” but “I can’t.” This is a source of regular sadness and guilt. I try to make up for it by thriving in the areas of justice-making and -doing in the roles I am very capable of excelling at in my current iteration of self.

    1. Michael, I’m trying to understand what you just said about sacrificing some personal aspirations that cause you anxiety. Is it possible that anxiety is your friend, warning you not to pursue these aspirations? In my mind, good health is right up there as a top priority in my life. I hope and pray that we all are blessed with good health.

      1. Tom: Health is definitely a priority. And that is why I forgo certain activities that I’d otherwise want to do. That said, prior versions of my self (intentionally read as written — “my self”), would have jumped at those opportunities. And so, there is loss and the associated sadness and guilt. For good or for bad, I can’t see Anxiety — or, definitely, Depression — as my friend(s). Thanks for the question. Your friend, Michael

        1. “And so, there is loss and the associated sadness and guilt.” Loss and sadness I get. Guilt?? I hope you can forgive yourself and be as kind and generous to yourself as you are to your friends.

  2. I sacrifice time, money and other things for quality, healthy food. Due to our income, my children qualify for reduced price lunch at school. Yet, they still take a home lunch. One home lunch costs the equivalent of a week of school lunches but I can’t, in good conscience, allow them to eat the slop that passes for food in the school district. To provide them with healthy food I sacrifice time and money making real food for their lunchs at home. I make homemade dinners most nights, using real ingredients. I grow and preserve much of our food as well. I feel that it is important that my family eats healthy and well. That means that we don’t get to go on vacations or to movies or sporting events because there isn’t enough time or money to do both. Due to chronic health conditions it also means that I have very little energy for anything else. I have no close friends, who aren’t also family, and attend very few events. Those are the sacrifices that I have had to make.

    1. Cecily, I’m sorry to hear that you have a chronic health condition. I believe in the power of prayer and want you to know I’m praying for God’s healing for you. I also will pray that you and your family prosper so that vacations, movies, etc are possible for you. God Bless you and your family!

  3. I was on a Navy combat ship during Viet Nam. I didn’t realize it then, but we servicemen and women were and are willing to sacrifice our lives for country. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have joined the Navy to fight what I consider now a stupid and immoral war.

    I wouldn’t encourage my grandchildren to serve in the military. I’m proud of my daughter’s service in the Peace Corps. I’d like to see a Peace Academy as an alternative to the Military Academies.

    1. After I posted the above comment, I realized I’m carrying around some bitterness about my experience in the Viet Nam War that I need to let go of. I’ve been blaming LBJ and others and it’s time I forgave them.

      If this blog can help me come to terms with something as important as this, I can only say thank you, Michael and Lee. I’ll continue to recommend this to my friends. 🙂

      1. Tom: Wow! I appreciate and am touched by your previous comment. Intellectual Roundtable has become a site of introspection, I think. What you noted about forgiveness is deeply moving. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for being a friend. Michael

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