One truth in life and in business alike is that if we want something we usually have to be prepared to give something up to get it. So my question for you is: what are you prepared to give up for your book?
“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”
Shauna Niequist,”Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way”
However, not everything we give up has the same impact on us, nor does it hold the same importance for us. It is important to recognise the difference and ensure that when you do give something up for your book you know why, and you do it not as a martyr but as a leader.
Three levels of sacrifice
Inevitably, when it comes to giving things some, there are going to be some things that are easier to let go of, and there are going to be some true sacrifices.
- At first, you may forsake some minor pleasures in order to move forward with your book. This is usually when your book is more fun and exciting for you than what you might otherwise be doing. Giving up these things is low on your scale is feels good. A bit like feeling peckish on a diet after the first day: you feel good about yourself for giving up your favourite foods so being a bit hungry simply reinforces your commitment.
- As your book becomes more demanding of your time and attention, you begin to realise that you will need to give up things that are a bit more important to you. This is the point where the initial excitement has worn off and you are experiencing a dip in your commitment. If you’re a coach, you’ll know all about ‘the dip’. There is little gratification for your selfless behaviour and it all seems like a lot of hard work. It is easy to lose focus at this point.
- If you make it through the dip and you make significant progress with your book, you will get to the stage where you need to make proper sacrifices. That means missing out on things that are important to you in order to achieve your goal. Those sacrifices could be anything from a favourite sporting occasion, a social occasion or even sleep.
We all have our own sense of what makes a sacrifice acceptable to us. Your values and beliefs will shape this decision so one person’s sacrifice will not be the same as another. Nobody else can judge you for your decisions because they are personal to you.
I remember reading Nick Hornby’s book Fever Pitch where he describes his avid and fanatical commitment to Arsenal football club. He openly admitted that he missed friends’ weddings, significant birthdays and other major days of celebration in order to follow his team. He said that his commitment to Arsenal had caused friction because some of his friends and family judged that his devotion to Arsenal had gone too far when it meant missing a wedding or other one-off major social event. But for him, there was no choice. He had to watch his team.
Those around you may judge that you are making too great a sacrifice when you choose to work on your book rather than go out for a night of partying, or a day on the beach or to their weekend-long birthday bash. Only you know what is right for you. It is important that when you make your choice that you make it for the right reasons. You are not proving anything to anyone by missing your sister’s wedding if you sit there and feel depressed all day. You are just upsetting yourself and a probably your family, too.
Equally, if you are not particularly bothered about yet another night out with your mates and you would rather be working on your book, then it is right for you to say no. You might say yes next time if what you need is a good night out so you can blow off a bit of steam and give your brain a rest.
The best way to gauge your feelings is to ask yourself what will be the greater of the two disappointments: losing another valuable day on your book or missing out on what you know will be a de-stressing great night out. You gut will give you the answer.
The truth about sacrifices
When you decide to sacrifice something with love, it does not feel so much like a sacrifice, but when you cannot do it with love it rots in your gut like sour milk. Feeling resentful does not promote a happy relationship with your book.
When you relinquish one thing in order to have something else you are making a choice based on love not fear. When this happens, your sacrifice feels like an act of love. You are showing yourself that your book is important and that you are committed to making it a reality.
Sacrifices can be motivating – they are not all about martyrdom and missing out. What you miss for a moment today may sow the seeds for a great deal more pleasure and fulfilment tomorrow. Only you know when to make the call and give something up for your book.
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