Sacrifice is the ability to give up something you like in order to achieve something you love.

It’s no secret I love a good quote. If you’ve been keeping up with the site or are homies with me on “The Book” then there’s a good chance you’re sick of me posting what almost seems like a quote daily.

I start most of my days by reading. Whether it be a short quote, a few pages in a book, or a post or two from some of my favorite blogs. Quotes in particular get my juices flowing. This one in particular got me thinking the other day. My conclusion after reading it was that I hate the word sacrifice.


The minute I hear the word sacrifice it sends my mind to a negative place. I almost automatically start thinking of something I’ll have to give up. I hear similar thoughts in my coaching practice as well.

  • If you’re dieting you may feel like you can never eat a certain food again
  • You quit your job and give up a steady paycheck and benefits
  • You end a relationship and sacrifice a lover and companion

My focus is drawn to what I am losing, missing out on, or having to give up. I’ve noticed that when I feel as if I’m sacrificing an awful lot in my life I feel exhausted, moody, and unmotivated. I often have a hard time concentrating and it feels as if I could just snap at any given moment.

Lately I’ve been taking time out to improve my relationship with the word in order to associate positive beliefs with it. Instead of drawing focus on what I am giving up I try to center my thoughts around what I have to gain or what I am able to give to another.


When you are constantly sacrificing a piece of yourself the regrets begin to pile up. One day after another as you start making decisions further and further away from your authentic self you slowly get further and further away from the person you truly are.

When it comes to self-sacrifice the intention is to give a little ground in that which you desire most for the greater well-being and happiness of someones else. But are you sacrificing some of your happiness and wellbeing for the right reasons?

There are two different approaches to self-sacrifice.

  1. Approach motivated sacrifice
    Avoidance motivated sacrifice

Psychologist Aimee Gordon defines the difference between approach motivated sacrifice and avoidance motivated sacrifice like this.

…hoping to have a great time focus on maximizing the positive outcomes in your relationships and are called approach social goals. In contrast, thoughts such as hoping not to make a fool of yourself focus on minimizing the negative outcomes in your relationships and are called avoidance social goals…

If you think about the diet you are on as an opportunity to learn how to cook amazing new recipes with food you have never tried, or how great you will start to look and feel over the next few weeks you would be practicing approach motivated sacrifice. The same goes for the current job you may be in. If you see it as an opportunity to learn new skills that can lead to future success in your real passions or a way to fund a trip around the world you have always wanted to take – this too would be approach motivated sacrifice.

On the flip side, if you see  your nutritional approach as something that is going to cause you fatigue, moodiness, and discomfort you would be practicing avoidance motivated sacrifice. You may also do this if you think about all of the arguments you will have to avoid and uncomfortable questions you will have to answer when your family comes to visit.

When applying both concepts to your personal relationships approach motivated sacrifice places an emphasis on generating more happiness for your partner, friends, or family while avoidance motivated sacrifice is simply focused on avoiding conflict with them. Some may even use avoidance motivated sacrifice as a way to hold something over someone’s head.

I did this for them… therefore they will owe me in the future…

I don’t think I need to tell you that those that practice approach motivated sacrifice are more fulfilled, happier, and satisfied with their lives. However, this is only the case if those that are sacrificing are doing so in a way that does not neglect their own needs. To be constantly sacrificing or creating a feeling of deprivation where your needs are not being met may lead to stress, anxiety, and general unhappiness in your own life.


I know I’ve fallen into this trap before. The one where you work hard and sacrifice… maybe in order to get into shape for beach season, at the work place, or in a relationship. 

You feel that because you sacrificed, worked hard, and gave so much that you deserve something in return. The act of just putting in the work and doing something positive and to benefit your health or others isn’t enough. You deserve something for your efforts.

In a study conducted by Veronika Job, Carol Dweck and Gregory Walton it was found that those that considered themselves to be “working hard” on an initial task feel justified in slacking off later (1). However, those that view handwork and effort as self-renewing – by working hard you are motivated and energized to work harder, by resisting certain temptations you are empowered and develop strength to resist future temptations experience greater levels of happiness, self-esteem, and are more likely to reach their goals.

One way to view your efforts as self-renewing is by getting clear on the motivation behind it. In a study conducted by Mark Muraven participants in a study were asked to perform tasks designed to deplete their willpower and force them to exert effort and hard work. These tasks included thought suppression, memory recall, and solving puzzles.

One half of the subjects were told to just put their best foot forward and to try their best. The other half were told that the experiments were a way to provide evidence for new therapies in Alzheimer’s disease. Those that were influenced by the Alzheimer’s study vastly outperformed those that were just told to try their best (2).

Understanding why you are doing what you are doing is vitally important to your success especially if you feel like you are sacrificing something in order to achieve it. Look outside yourself for that motivation. As displayed in the study above often many of us are more motivated by knowing that our success or efforts impacts others in a positive light.

  • Maybe your new diet will make you healthier and provide you with the energy to play more with your kids.
  • The hour or so you spend working on your side hustle in your free time might provide for the opportunity to take a trip with a loved one.


Constant self-sacrifice can be exhausting. If you feel like you are always sacrificing or having to give up something there is good chance you will deplete your willpower and fall prey to temptation. There is a unique relationship between exhaustion, consumption, and temptation.

When you feel worn out physically, mentally, or emotionally you’re at a heightened risk to get off track in your pursuits. This is why most of us mess up our diets on the weekends or simply lose control all together. All week-long you may feel like you have been sacrificing a bit of yourself and when the opportunity presents itself to reward yourself you take it and sometimes to the extreme.

This just hold true for diets and food but is often the case for shopping sprees or any other outlet you seek to reward yourself After a weekend of self-indulgence you feel like all your hard work has now been justified and you are ready to start all over again come monday. The problem with this (especially with your nutrition) is that all that hard work over the course of a week is undone in a matter of 1-2 days. You go overboard in replenishing your willpower. Then come monday it is like starting at square one and the cycle repeats itself.

Find small rewards over the course of a week that reward your sacrifice.

  • If you feel like you are sacrificing in your diet reward yourself not with food but with something else that you really enjoy.
  • If you feel like you’ve been sacrificing at the office reward yourself with a weekend getaway and two days away from your email and cell phone.
  • If you feel like you’ve been giving up a lot recently in your personal relationships reward yourself with a little me time. Maybe a massage.
  • It could even be as simple as a good book or movie, a brisk walk outside in the sun, or a chit-chat with a friend.

Reward yourself on the big wins and focus on rewards that provide an experience. Rewards that provide you with a new experience will be the most beneficial in replenishing yourself.

Sacrificing a lot lately? Are you making sure to reward yourself for the big wins? How are you doing so?

Live limitless,



Photo: hardwork