“To be what you must, you must give up what you are” -Yusuf Islam
Here’s a little-known secret about success:
It has nothing to do with your skills, education or experience. It has nothing to do with who you know and how long you’ve been doing it.
If you want to meet success, you need to know what you’re willing to give up to achieve it.
For most of us, success means adding something to our life. Whether it’s finding our soulmate, landing a new job or making more money, it’s all about addition.
Having any thing in our life, that we don’t currently have, requires some form of sacrifice.
When I was 26, even though I was deeply entangled in my eating disorder, I managed to get pregnant with my now 8-year-old son. Having him and having a healthy pregnancy required that I give up endless hours at the gym. It required that I let go of restricting the amount of calories I’d allow myself to consume in a day. While I was (thankfully) able to give up my destructive habits during my pregnancy, about a year after I had Johnny, my eating disorder was back and I was even deeper in it. Even though I wanted recovery, even though I wanted the success of saying, “I had an eating disorder,” I wasn’t willing to give up what I was, how I was living my life. It wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I decided I didn’t just “want” to recover, I had to recover. The kick in the ass for me was hearing my son talk to his body – repeating the things I’d say to myself out loud. I knew at that moment that if I wanted to become the person I desired to be, my eating disorder had no place in my life.
I wish I could say it was an easy decision. It wasn’t. From the day I made that decision, there was plenty of steps forward. There’s also been plenty of steps back. Stepping onto the road of recovery required some huge sacrifices: I had to sacrifice my pride and admit that I didn’t just “have” an eating disorder – I still had one. I had to admit that I needed help and I couldn’t smugly do it all by myself. I had to give up the only way I knew how to live and control my life. None of that was easy.
It still isn’t.
People often remark how inspiring and wonderful my story is, and don’t get me wrong, it is incredible to be where I am in my mind and my body, but it’s still a sacrifice, one I continue to make every day. And if I’m completely honest, it’s one I’ll be making for the rest of my life.
No sacrifice is a one and done deal. To be what we must, we must give up what we are. Success requires sacrifice.
And, sometimes we just have to give up.
The healthiest and wisest decisions come from recognizing the things we need to relinquish from our lives. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your freedom, health, hobbies, friends, family or life. It doesn’t mean you have to give up movie nights with your kid, date nights with your spouse, wine on Saturday with the girls, or even the occasional chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream straight from the carton. But, it does require sacrifice.
It’s Time You Give Up…
Some things are up to us, and some things are not. Differentiating these two is important. Detach from the things you can’t control and focus on the ones you can – and also know that sometimes the only thing you’ll be able to control is your attitude toward something.
We all inherently want to be safe. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, if our ancestors hadn’t had the innate drive for safety, we wouldn’t be here today (thanks ancestors!). But, safety, when taken too far, never leads to success. You don’t find success hugging the base of trees. You find it out on the limb.
If we require external motivation and validation, we can never be our best selves. Seth Godin says it best:
“If you rely on external motivation to be your best self, then you will have ceded your responsibility and authority to someone else. You will be judged by how well your boss does at motivating you, not based on who you are.”
Ultimately, motivation must come from inside. Validation must come from a driving force within that says, “This must change”, “That’s not right”, “This is more important”.
Success requires sacrifice. It requires you give up what you are. Not who you are, what you are: your old habits and thinking; old excuses and reasons.
What we are can never take us to where we want to be. It’s who we decide to be that leads us there. Only when we get out of our way, can we pave one.
What are you willing to give up to make way for success?