Sacrifice: a. Forfeiture of or destruction of something highly valued for the sake of one considered having a greater value or claim. b. the person, animal, or thing so offered. c. the thing so surrendered or devoted. –verb (used with object) to dispose of (goods, property, etc.) regardless of profit.

In other words: delayed gratification. Lately sacrifice has been sneaking up on me from all angles, which makes sense because I have a lot of goals. I just didn’t know it would truly be this hard.

The Greats are made up of sacrifice or delayed gratification. They have that hunger to strive beyond themselves—no matter the cost. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s story is always one of the most compelling to me, namely because he is a master of making it look easy.

I became acquainted with his inspiring stories when I first hit the gym with dad at 11 years old. Dad used to tell me stories of how Arnold’s great success in life came from the steps of discipline he took in the gym—one repetition at a time—to control the perfect physical state of his body and in addition the self-mastery he had over his mental and emotional well being. In other words: the mind-body connection. It made him like water, flowing, swiftly coming and going, unstoppable.

As a boy from a small town in Austria he dreamed of becoming a bodybuilder. At 20 he won Mr. Universe and went on to win the Olympia seven times. He knew not to be a big fish in a small pond for too long and gathered what little he had and made the big move to California to become a big time movie star. He brought bodybuilding to mainstream America and changed the image of action movies forever. After completing his goals of becoming a big hit, he made the calculated decision to make his next move into Politics and became Governor of California, a place he could only dream of as a little boy.

This appears to have always been easy for him, to slickly flow and change to greet his goals and surroundings, but it wasn’t easy. He’s simply achieved optimal self-mastery and the abilities to harness his power to appear grand.

It took him years of calculated decision making, repeat failings, reinvention, and consistent goal setting to become who he is today.

I have grand goals as well, and have broken them down into incremental realities (a step by step process with achievable deadlines), but every single day I have to do ONE MORE thing than I did yesterday, and yesterday was hell. I have to look at it like just one more rep in an exercise routine. But sometimes I feel like I have literally “lifted to failure” and often feel fatigued, though I know I have much more to do before I have molded and shaped my body, mind, and soul into a sculpture of self-mastery.

These years of our lives (whatever your age) are the years that need to be spent in delayed gratification, because if not now, when? Do we want to settle into the myths of the American Dream and play out our prospective societal roles? Do we want to look around us and think “I guess I am good, everyone else seems to be in a bad situation.” If we compare ourselves to others—the majority—we won’t do much because honestly, they don’t. Many people have settled into who they are going to be for the rest of their lives and will be doing the same thing for Christmas next year that they are doing this year. No changes.  We must compare ourselves to ourselves and keep the promises we make to ourselves.

The thing about sacrifice is it only gets worse before it gets better. You can put in five years of preparation for your quick 15 minutes. Do something that will satisfy you for the 15 minutes you’ve got, and learn quickly to adjust to change and immediately prepare for the next big thing.

My sacrifices lately have been junk food, temper tantrums, and time.

While those may not sound like a sacrifice because the outcome leads to betterment and they are of negative quality; it is so much easier to continue living in anger and eat junk and not hit the gym. It is SO much easier to just go to work for nine hours, eat junk instead of sipping on BCAAs, eating almonds, bananas, chicken and brown rice. It is SO much easier to come home, skip the gym, be angry that I work all the time, and then fall asleep. It is so much easier to put off completing my time consuming novel that may never get picked up. Happiness is hard sometimes. It takes monitoring ones thoughts and really watching what you think and say and feel.

But every day I ask myself: what am I worth? What is the price? Will I pay the price today?

The best ways to assess your sacrifices are to write down “what is the easy way out?” and think, will I take the easy way out today?

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