“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.” (Napoleon Hill)
When we launched our first series of internet articles designed to encourage creators and dreamers, we decided to call it Diet for Dreamers. Our thoughts ran along these lines: to accomplish anything in life, whether it’s a healthy body or the fulfillment of a dream, we need the proper food.
A bodybuilder needs extra protein, a runner needs more carbs, and someone wanting to lose weight needs … uh, less of everything that’s truly delicious! This last example seems unfair, doesn’t it? But until someone invents a pill that consumes excess fat, a dieter will have to stick to his or her diet — which means sacrificing desserts and other high-calorie foods.
Similarly, anyone who’s trying to achieve great things in life also needs a special diet: Inspiration to feed the dreams, encouragement to foster the creativity; organization and strategy to make the most of time, talent, and resources; and steadfast faith and a deep passion for the goal or dream, both of which can fuel a person all the way to the finish line.
And, as with any dietary program, some sacrifices will have to be made, and that’s never easy; which is why many people quit — or cheat too often and too much. Diets only work if we’re willing to stick with them. Although we do need to give in to a craving occasionally, just to keep our sanity, most of the time we have to resign ourselves to sacrificing the foods we love (in the case of a nutritional diet) or the activities we love (in the case of a dreamer’s diet).
The word sacrifice means to surrender something of value for the sake of a higher cause, a more pressing need, or a more important objective. If we’re cutting calories in order to squeeze into that favorite pair of jeans, we’ll need to sacrifice sweets or second helpings of our favorite foods. We may even have to leave the table while we’re still hungry. In other words, we have to do what it takes to stick to our diet.
Writers, artists, actors, and musicians who achieve a level of virtuosity, entrepreneurs who exceed their goals, researchers and inventors who make great breakthroughs, visionaries who change the world, and even people who build solid marriages and raise well-adjusted kids, all do so because they stick to their diets … and that usually means sacrificing certain things.
We have friends who, during their spare time, watch tons of television, or play video games almost non-stop, or participate in any number of other leisure activities. And then — every couple of months, it seems — they’re taking an elaborate vacation or going away for a long weekend. (Apparently, having fun all the time can be quite fatiguing.)
These people are relaxing and doing what they enjoy most, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We, on the other hand, want to achieve our goals
and fulfill our dreams — and we have BIG dreams. So we need to make the
most of our time. (Personally, we’re always working on our books, articles,
and stories.) We can’t walk away from our day jobs, family responsibilities,
and social obligations; and we have to take time to eat, sleep, and shower, so whatever time is left usually goes to pursuing our dreams.
- Bottom line? We sacrifice our leisure time — or at least a good portion of it — which is tough. Of course, we all know “dieting” has never been easy. But if we want to fit into our pants or achieve our dreams, we resign ourselves to making sacrifices.
Full disclosure? We won’t lie, sacrificing our down time continues to be a challenge; and sometimes, seeing others at play while we toil away at extra (and optional) tasks can be a little irritating. Frankly, we have to pray about it. We ask the Lord to help us guard our hearts, reciting David’s prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 KJB)
Lastly, we keep reminding ourselves that, if we are to accomplish something — any thing — worthwhile, we need to stay on our diets and continue to sacrifice activities that could ruin our progress.
Can you relate? Do you find yourself getting a little envious of people relaxing while you’re working, training, studying, tinkering, analyzing, researching, practicing, or honing? Remind yourself, if you’re pursuing a goal or a dream, then you’re simply paying the price. You need a certain diet with built-in sacrifices. Stick to it, and stop begrudging the guy next door who’s playing video games all day long. Your diet and sacrifices will make you a lean mean dreaming machine, and someday you will achieve great things! And the guy next door? So what if he’s happy with his diet of computer games. Perhaps someday he’ll be the best Pokemon player in the neighborhood!
- Concentrate on your “diet,” not on the huge servings of leisure time being consumed by others.
It’s worth repeating: “counting the cost/paying the price” requires focus, discipline, and sacrifice — just like dieting. And, as with dieting, it also helps to be psyched up; physically, spiritually, and psychologically prepared to stick with it. Face it, some goals and dreams come at a great price and require incredible sacrifice. In addition to the long hours and hard work, we often face failure, disappointments, setbacks, and rejection. (We’ll discuss how to handle these upsets in a future post.)
Here’s what Charles Bukowski had to say on the subject:
If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing [friends] and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. …You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is. (Factotum)
- Making sacrifices along the way to fulfilling a dream is nothing new.
In fact, it’s par for the course. All the great achievements in this world, all the great discoveries, and every great work of art, music, and literature, exacted a heavy price from creators and dreamers who chose to pay that price. Men and women such as Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, George Washington Carver, Edgar Allan Poe, L. Frank Baum, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — the list of people who made tremendous sacrifices to realize their God-given dreams and visions would fill countless volumes.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. …Start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed … He could put up with anything along the way: the Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 MSG)
Are you pursuing a big dream? Are you willing to make a few sacrifices? Pay the price today, so you can celebrate tomorrow. It’s the “diet” we choose for ourselves — the sacrifices we make to succeed.