Many years ago, I got an email from an aspiring entrepreneur who wanted to leave his family business to start his own. I love emails like that because it shows promising ambition of someone who’s put in the work and ready to make it on their own.
We started talking, brainstorming, helping him come up with the best way to execute the idea. But week after week, month after month, he made little to no progress. Every time he’d reach out to me, he’d be at almost exactly where he was before, not having even started.
Eventually one day, I lost patience. I told him that I could no longer waste my time, that me helping him was useless if he wasn’t willing to help himself. He finally admitted his problem; turns out, he had an addiction to Facebook and Youtube. Every time he’d tell himself to get started on the business, he’d be browsing Facebook or watching videos on Youtube instead.
He said, “Jon, I really need help. How do I stop going on Facebook? How do I stop myself from going on Youtube? What can I do?”
I asked him if he was serious, if he was willing to go the extra lengths and what he’d do in order to start his business.
He replied, “I’d do anything.”
And so I told him, “If you want to stop, just delete your facebook account and unsubscribe from all of your channels on youtube. ”
“That’s ridiculous. I can’t do that.”
Even though he didn’t want to admit it, he had placed a higher value, a higher emphasis on spending time on Facebook and Youtube than towards starting a business. To him, the values he placed towards business was nowhere near the importance of the values he placed towards his entertainment.
If you ask someone whether or not they’d give up going on social media, playing games and watching tv shows for the next five years to become a millionaire, what would they say? Of course they’d say yes. Who wouldn’t?
But words aren’t actions. It’s easy to say something, but exponentially harder to actually do it. We say that we want to change, to make a difference, to break out of our bad habit but how often do we actually take action? We make empty promises because it’s easy and self-fulfilling; we like the feeling of imaging a future where we’ve already succeeded.
Reality can prove to be different though.
Most of us lack the determination and dedication to pursue our dreams and stay true to our promises. We indulge ourselves in fantasies but look the other way and give excuses when we’re actually expected to do it because it requires effort we’re not ready to invest.
Mark Manson in the The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck phrases his own experience perfectly:
“I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love with not the fight but only the victory.”
Deleting your Facebook account and unsubscribing to all the channels you follow on youtube isn’t really as ridiculous as it seems, if you place higher value, higher importance on wanting to succeed. It sounds extreme, but it’s all in perspective. For those that are determined to succeed, it’s a small price to pay. They’d be probably willing to sacrifice even more, to cast away all things holding them back from the success they genuinely wish for and in their case, deserve.
In the movie 127 Hours, (spoiler alert here), the main character Aaron, a mountain climber gets his arm trapped under a bounder while canyoneering alone. As the hours tick by, he becomes more and more desperate. Running out of water, he resorts drinking his own urine. Eventually, because he has no other choice, he cuts off his own arm in order to survive. Throughout the movie, his perspective on what he values changes. He’s unwilling to drink his own urine but he does it anyways. He’s unwilling to cut off his arm, but does it anyways despite the extreme pain. He does it because survival becomes the most important thing to him in the very last moments.
What we want and what we’re able to achieve always boils down to the value we place on things. If you want something and you’re determined, you will some way or another, make it happen. It’s just whether or not you choose to make the sacrifices necessary. There’s never a right or wrong, correct or incorrect. We have different values. It’s up to us to choose and follow the path we set for ourselves because nobody can ever convince us to do otherwise. We can get yelled at, coerced or even intimidated into wanting to do something but whether or not it happens will always depend on us.
Choose your values, choose your goals, and choose your sacrifices.
“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.” — Anonymous