The ONE Thing You Need to Sacrifice to Become Successful in Life

by Positive Hustle

No pain, no gain. This is one of the most commonly cited ideas about achieving what you want in life.

It means that if you want to achieve greater success in life, you need to sacrifice and go through pain to achieve it.

Is it true that we need to sacrifice to become successful in life?

The answer is yes.

Because I believe in opportunity cost.

For instance, I can choose to work on my blog right now or I can choose to play games. And my decision will determine what I get out of life.

If I choose to play games and have fun right now, it means that I procrastinate on building and growing my blog.

And if I choose to work on my blog right now, it means I sacrifice my leisure time for gaming and decide to work on my goal instead.

Do you get that?

Everything is an opportunity cost in life.

When you choose to do A, it means you sacrifice and give up all other options.

And to become successful in life, you need to make the right sacrifice. You have to choose to sacrifice the less impactful activities and work on what matters to you.

So, if there is one thing you should sacrifice for success, what do you need to sacrifice? The answer is…

Sacrifice the Need for Instant Gratification

Instant gratification means the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment immediately.

For example, if you can choose between working on your goals or watch TV, and you choose to watch TV, that’s instant gratification.

But if you choose to work on your goals right away and watch TV later, you are choosing to delay gratification.

So, what does instant and delay gratification has to do with your success in life?


One of the main reasons people fail to accomplish their goals, stick to their plans, and achieve the success they desire is because of the failure to resist temptation. They choose instant gratification over delaying it.

Have you ever made a plan to save money, to exercise, or to build a profitable internet business, but somewhere along the journey, you give up because something comes up?

That’s the classic example of how instant gratification comes into play.

Imagine you have decided to lose weight and get back in shape. You commit to exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.

You’re all pumped up the first day. You exercise for more than 45 minutes rather than the planned 30 minutes. And you’re excited.

And the second day, you follow your plan because you are committed to doing it. And you exercise for 30 minutes.

But when the third day comes, something comes up. You feel tired, your kids ask you to play with them, you need to walk your dog, it is raining out there, there is a great video playing on Netflix right now, etc.

And so, you didn’t exercise, you choose to watch Netflix. You choose instant gratification and enjoy your time rather than delaying the pleasure and push yourself to exercise.

Eventually, you give up on your exercise plan and you fail to accomplish your goal of getting back in shape.

Can you see how sacrificing instant gratification is the key to success now?

The Power of the Compound Effect

In my blog post here, I shared a powerful example that I learned from Darren Hardy, the best-selling author of the life-changing book, The Compound Effect.

In the book, Hardy explains why it is difficult to delay gratification and stick to a plan.

If you were given a choice to choose between $3 million right now or a penny that doubles every day for 30 days, which option would you go for?

Well, if you are like most people, you’d choose to have $3 million right now.

Why wait for 30 days and why do you want to have a penny that doubles every day, right?

Take a look at this table below…

Imagine John chooses to receive $3 million right now and you choose the other path – a penny doubles for 30 days.

On the first day, you have $0.01, but John has $3 million with him. He can enjoy and spend the money. He can buy a new car and get whatever he wants.

On the fifth day, you receive $0.16 while looking at John enjoying his $3 million.

This is where you will start to doubt yourself whether you are making the right decision. Perhaps, you should choose to have $3 million upfront as John did, right?

On day twenty, John is thrilled with his $3 million, and your penny doubles to $5,242.88. After twenty days, you’re just getting $5,000 and it is not even hitting the $10k mark.

At this point, most people would have given up.

They will quit and tell themselves that the system or the goal doesn’t work. They will buy into the idea that they have made the wrong decisions and failed.

Don’t forget the fact that they are also comparing with John, who is happily enjoying the $3 million he’s had.

Can you see why most people give up and fail to stick to their plan now?

Even when it reaches day 27, you’re just getting $671,088.64, not even hitting the million-dollar mark. And you just have 3 more days to go.

And on day 28, this is where the magic happens.

Suddenly, the power of the compound effect started to work.

On day 28, you will get $1.3 million, and by day 30, you will have $5.3 million, which is more than what John initially gets.

Plus, if you give the compound effect another day to work its magic, by day 31, you will have a whopping $10,737,418.24.

That’s $10 million, my friend. Such is the power of compound effect plus the ability to delay gratification.

the compound effect
This is one of the best success books on my top 10 list. If you haven’t read this book yet, get it here and read it now. Most important, learn the principles and apply them to your life.

The problem with most people is that they don’t want to sacrifice and delay immediate pleasure. Plus, they always compare themselves with others.

And in this case, they are comparing with John, who receives $3 million upfront.

In the beginning, when they don’t see the results they are getting, they started to panic and doubt themselves.

Which eventually leads them to give up and quit on whatever plan or project or goal they are pursuing.

This is why if you want to become successful, you must learn how to sacrifice instant gratification and develop the ability to delay immediate pleasure.

Read: 7 Steps How To Not Give Up On Your Dreams

Why Sacrifice Instant Gratification for Success

Years ago, a professor from Stanford University called Walter Mischel conducted an experiment whereby he and his team tested on hundreds of children between ages 4 and 5.

The test began by bringing each child into a room and got them to sit down on a chair. And then Mischel and his team placed a marshmallow on the table in front of the child and made an offer.

The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room for a couple of minutes. And if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, he would reward the child with a second marshmallow.

However, if the child ate the first marshmallow that was placed in front of him/her before the researcher came back, they would not get the second marshmallow.

In short, the test was simple: to eat one marshmallow right now or to have two marshmallows later.

Many years later, a follow-up study was conducted on the grown-up children.

The study discovered that children who delayed gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up getting higher SAT scores, have better social skills, and able to cope better with stress according to their parents.

In general, the children who resisted the temptation and delayed gratification did better in most areas of their lives.

I bet you can relate…

  • When you delay the gratification to watch TV or play games and get your work done, you will produce more results and make progress toward your goals.
  • When you delay the gratification to eat the cake or dessert and choose to exercise and workout, you will have a healthier and fitter body.
  • When you delay the gratification to check updates on social media or to watch YouTube and choose to write articles for your blog, you end up having more content on your blog that will bring in more traffic.

Do you now see why delayed gratification is the key to your success?

And do you know why you need to sacrifice instant gratification to achieve greater success in life?

Read: How Delay Gratification Can Greatly Impact Your Success

The 4 Burners Theory

I learned about the Theory of the 4 Burners from James Clear.

Picture your life is represented by a stove with 4 burners on it. And each burner represents a major area of your life:

  1. Family
  2. Health
  3. Work
  4. Friends

And to make a burner burn with a strong flame, you need to lower the flame on other burners.

In other words, there are tradeoffs. You will have to sacrifice one area to make other areas improve.

Here’s what James Clear wrote:

“If you want to excel in your work and in your marriage, then your friends and your health may have to suffer. If you want to be healthy and succeed as a parent, then you might be forced to dial back your career ambitions. Of course, you are free to divide your time equally among all four burners, but you have to accept that you will never reach your full potential in any given area.”

James Clear

The reason I’m sharing this theory with you is that I want to let you know that there is no such thing as a balanced if you want to succeed in one area of life.

Just like what James Clear wrote, if you want to excel at work, career, or business, you will have to sacrifice other areas like your family and health.

You can choose to spend time with your family, or you can choose to use the time to build your business, but you can’t do both.

This is why choosing what to sacrifice is key to your success.

You want to sacrifice instant gratification and choose to work on what matters most to you.

Regardless of whether you choose to work on your career, family, or health, the key is to understand what matters to you.

Sacrifice What Doesn’t Matter to You

You don’t have to sacrifice everything. You just need to sacrifice what doesn’t matter to you and choose to focus and work on what is important to you.

There are choices we need to make in life. And our choice of what we do will dictate what we get in the future.

When you choose to watch Netflix, or you may choose to work on your business. Whatever your choices, make sure that they matter most to you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend time on leisure activities, but I’m saying you should work on what truly matters.

If you have spent the entire day working hard, producing results, and making progress for your goals, then by the end of the day, you may want to reward yourself with leisure time such as watching Netflix.

The point is to choose to do what matters to you at the moment.

And remember, what you choose NOT to do will become the sacrifice.

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