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Sacrifices: Identifying the Good & the Bad

Oct 6, 2022
Sacrifices: Identifying the Good & the Bad

4 minutes - enough time to switch off from that work project and enjoy your coffee ☕

We all make sacrifices.

It’s a healthy habit to prioritise our responsibilities and desires so that we don’t overload. After all, there are only so many hours in the day.

We sacrifice time for each of those things. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

There can sometimes be a blurred line between the right kinds of sacrifices and the wrong ones. How do we know when something is truly worth it?

In extreme cases, some sacrifice everything for their dreams. Giving up financial security to devote oneself to an artistic endeavour, for instance. Even with smaller everyday trade-offs, it’s important to balance the value of what you sacrifice against the importance of what you gain.

In a society which celebrates the idea of having it all, we have become both less willing to sacrifice, and more likely to do it. Less willing, because we feel that we must conquer the balancing act where nothing ever gives. More likely, because in the pursuit of each thing we inevitably neglect another.

How can we know whether the sacrifices we are making are the right ones? Here are some questions to keep in mind:

Is the thing I’m sacrificing truly less important than the thing I want?

This can be clouded by other people's influence and expectations. Assess what’s valuable to you personally, and don’t settle for a bad bargain!

Whether it’s time with your kids, your health or creativity, only you can decide what’s most important to you.

Should I be able to have both?

Though ‘having it all’ can be a problematic ideal, in some cases you actually can have it both ways!

For instance, if you’re made to feel that you must sacrifice your career to have a family or vice versa, maybe you need to stick to your guns and remember it’s your right to choose both. Strike a balance that works for you, and surround yourself with people who are supportive of that choice.

Is this me or someone else talking?

Is someone else holding the reins of this decision? 

Maybe you’re sacrificing your free time for a project because your boss says you have to. Or devote your time to childcare because your co-parent isn’t taking a share? It could even be sacrificing money for things that other people demand. 

In these cases, it may be time to readdress some key boundaries with others. 

Am I trading today for tomorrow?

It’s sensible to play the long game, and we all want to make preparations for later in life. But if you find yourself consistently sacrificing your happiness time and priorities today, in favour of happiness in the future, this could be a never-ending cycle of forgetting to live in the moment. 

Priorities change, and grounding yourself in the present moment can have many benefits.

Can I still meet my needs?

What do you define as your needs?

A roof over your head, food, and maintaining your health are some basics. Mental well-being, connection with others, fulfilment, rest and fun are also important needs.

You might include certain luxuries, your savings goals, or hobbies as well.

If a sacrifice encroaches on any of these priorities for your overall well-being, it might be best to think again before you give something up.

In the end, Sacrifice is all about two key things:

One is balance, and the other is an individual choice.

As long as your sacrifices are balanced out by your gains, and you’re making compromises based on what is authentic to you, you can be confident that the sacrifices you’re making in everyday life are the right ones.

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