“You have to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become.”
In my “comfortable” past life, I was an employee. While I liked the people I worked with and the job itself wasn’t so bad, I only worked for the pay. I had no greater ambition to rise up through the ranks in my job. I did what was required of me day in, day out from 6:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon and then made the short commute home. The end. My weekends would generally entail looking for fun ways to spend that precious free time with friends while doing the best I could to ignore the recurring 5 day stint at work looming the other side of Sunday. It wasn’t that I lacked ambition or a vision. I knew I wanted to go into business for myself. I knew of the projects I wanted to get involved in. I knew how I wanted my life to be, ultimately. I just didn’t know how to start. Starting itself would equate to so much discomfort and confusion- would I even know what I was doing or would I fail? Merely thinking about all the things I’d need to learn, do and undertake just to make a start, would leave me feeling overwhelmed and disoriented.
So instead I continually looked for distractions to take my attention away from those feelings of discomfort. But this only allowed negative side-effects to creep into my life: I had poor self-discipline, no time management and I was more interested in chasing easy thrills to continue ‘helping’ me avoid the problems associated with change, than making the time-consuming choices that would lay foundations for the life I really wanted. The more I tried to remain in my comfort zone, the more disoriented and disconnected I began to feel about life. I lived in a state of cognitive dissonance, caught between living my life as it actually was, and imagining my life as I wanted it to be.
It took a trip overseas to finally convince me to make the leap. While abroad, I thought about what was going to happen when this holiday was over: I was going back to my regular job, back to thinking about a brighter future that I wanted to happen “someday soon”. It took a few weeks on the other side of the world to realise how aimless, bland and underwhelming my life had become at 26. I had two choices: I could stay in my current job and continue thinking about the life/ career I wanted- or I could start pursuing it now! Upon returning home, I ceased working at my old job within a month. Then I found out about NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) and began compiling all the documentation I needed to apply. I enrolled in a copywriting course that gave me lots of valuable tips in preparation for my pending career change. I took the time out to listen through the ‘Time of your life’ 10 part series by motivational speaker/ author Anthony Robbins- a series I highly recommend for anybody eager to learn about effective time management and goal setting not just for their career, but their life as a whole. It was just these small steps that, bit by bit, led to something bigger- a steady (and noticeable) change in my life as a whole. Before I knew it I was crunching important tasks I’d been putting off beforehand, planning my weeks out, managing my time productively and genuinely feeling up-beat, positive and enthusiastic about all the changes taking place in my life. I successfully completed the NEIS course just before Christmas and it ended one of the best years of my life to date.
In only a couple of years since, so much has changed- mostly for the better. Between the new people I’ve met, the projects I’ve become involved in, the new skills I’ve learned and the ideas I’m continually becoming aware of- my life has changed to the point that I feel like the person I am and the life I’m living only bears a vague resemblance to myself 5 years ago. Even so, sometimes I’ll get caught up in old attitudes or mindsets- if I go with the flow and carry on as usual, it feels comfortable and ‘normal’. Remembering what I really want and making the effort to snap out of those lingering attitudes or habits can be difficult- to the point where I sometimes feel as if it’s too hard to change- but I do my best to remember that the short-term comfort is worth sacrificing for my long-term visions.
Perhaps you’re reading this and you’ve thought of an aspect of your life that is ‘comfortable’ and ‘normal’ for you- it could be connected with your job (if you work for somebody else) your business (if you work for yourself), it could be tied in with your family, health, relationships, attitudes, finances- nearly anything you think, do or feel with any consistency. Maybe, despite how ‘comfortable’ it feels, you realise the truth- that there need to be sacrifices made in order to move closer to that bigger, grander picture you dream of. Just making the start can feel like such a jolting, stressful, mentally draining hassle, I know. Yet in the space of only three years, I look back at everything that has changed in my life and within myself in that short period of time, and whenever I stop to think about it I am so grateful I made the decision to sacrifice so much of what felt normal or comfortable to me- because had I not made that decision and the effort, my life right now would be so much less than what it’s become.
There will be sacrifices to make and difficult changes to endure. There will be times where the ends feel disproportionately small compared to the means. Making whatever changes you need to make can feel so unreasonably difficult at times. Yet I still encourage you: Decide on what you want, make the decision to seek after it, and always decide in favour of your dreams, even if it means sacrificing comfort. Because I know first-hand that sacrificing what you are, is well worth it when compared to what you will become…