Sacrifice

November 5, 2010

Please pardon the scraping, clanking, and banging. That’s the sound of me dragging my soapbox into position.

Ahem.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Figuring out what you really desire – not what you wish for in a fleeting or greedy way, but what your heart calls you to bring into your life – can be a slow, confusing process.

Designing your life to develop and express your natural gifts and talents, in alignment with your truest values, can be very challenging.

Creating a business that lets you do work you love, work that is engaging and fulfilling and rich, while complementing the lifestyle you want to have… that’s pretty difficult. It requires a lot from you, because you have to become the person you are capable of being. You have to develop your potential, learn new things, leave your comfort zone, and grow into the person you are in your dream.

This is hard – really, really hard. It’s energizing and exciting, and sometimes it has a groove and a flow to it that leave you feeling like you’re plugged in to the universe. But it’s also scary, frustrating, often annoying, and occasionally overwhelming.

It’s really, really hard.

And it takes sacrifice. Not in the stoic sense of enduring pain or suffering without complaint, or the classically romantic sense of giving up something you love dearly in order to have something – or someone – else. You don’t have to give up what you love in order to have something else you love. But you might have to postpone what you enjoy for a while, or plan a season to focus on one desire followed by a season to focus on the next, and so on. This kind of sacrifice is about prioritizing, about being willing to give up things you enjoy but aren’t vital in order to have something, eventually, that is vital.

This kind of sacrifice might mean giving up your free time with friends for a while to use that time to build your business. It might mean living on a very lean budget while you pay off debt or save up an emergency fund to cushion the transition from employment to self-employment. It might mean putting off vacations or travel plans or special events for a while as you devote your time, money, and energy to implementing your plan.

It’s why I named the section of my blog-based e-zine that told the stories of people who designed their own jobs and businesses Striving and Thriving. People I talked to at the time told me I shouldn’t include the word “striving” because that sounded too difficult. They said people don’t like to hear that things are difficult.

Well this is difficult! Many things in life that are worthwhile are difficult. Drifting and following the crowd is easy on a daily basis. It’s very hard on you in the aggregate. Finding your own path and following it demands a lot from you on a daily basis. But it’s very fluid and comfortable in the aggregate.

There’s a story in the “Law of Attraction” world that early in his career comedian Jim Carrey set a goal of earning ten million dollars for one movie. He supposedly wrote a check to himself for ten million dollars and carried it in his wallet. When his agent negotiated the deal for his role in Dumb and Dumber, the story says, he told the actor he would earn ten million dollars. Supposedly Jim Carrey took the check out of his wallet and looked at with a degree of amazement that his dream had come true.

There are problems with this story. One is that an internet search of Jim Carrey’s salaries shows he earned less than ten million dollars for Dumb and Dumber but significantly more for his subsequent movies. But the big problem is that Law of Attraction proponents state that all you have to do is focus on your desires, thinking about them and about how you will feel when you have them, and you will draw them into existence. The “law” explanation is that Jim Carrey focused his desire and thought about his goal regularly, so his mind made it real.

But in reality, while he was desiring to be famous and have a big payday, he was working his butt off. He was in small parts in movies and then landed a part in the television series In Living Color. He poured himself into his roles in the skits and started to get noticed. That led to him getting a starring movie role, in which he worked really hard to put on an entertaining performance. That led to a second starring role, where he continued to work really hard to be entertaining and memorable. That led to the big payday for the third starring role. He has earned above the ten million dollar mark in movie roles since then.

Wishing? Focusing his mind on his desire? No way! He focused his intention and his effort on what he wanted. He had to work hard. He had to keep at it for a very long time.

He had to strive. He had to sacrifice, to make his goal a priority and say “no” to choices that would have taken him off course or slowed him down.

Usually we can’t accomplish what we want without making it a priority, sacrificing lesser wants to focus our time, effort, and resources on what we strongly want, and working diligently and consistently to make it happen.

We have to strive. We wouldn’t value our accomplishments very much if we could simply wish them into being. Our effort and our sacrifice increase our appreciation. There is great satisfaction in earning something we truly desire, a fulfillment that can never be experienced by getting something easily.

Okay, can someone lend me a hand with this soapbox? We just need to slide it back into the corner over there.

May You Know the Joy – and Fulfillment – of Sharing Your Gifts

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