“Having it all” is a seemingly popular and understandably enticing idea, but the truth is that it’s a naive and frankly immature fantasy.
It’s certainly not easy to accept that we can’t have everything. Indeed, part of becoming an adult, in my opinion at least, is coming to terms with that and accepting responsibility for it – what we can and must do is decide on the select things that we do want to have and, thusly, what must be sacrificed to prioritize those things.
Not having it all is sobering and seemingly depressing idea. But, with a little bit of mental legwork, you can decide that things you sacrifice are things that you don’t actually need.
In my early and mid twenties I, like most guys my age, wanted to get as big, strong, and ripped as possible. But I’ve realized a few things as I’ve gotten older:
One, doing that takes a lot of sacrifice – of time, of energy, of money perhaps, and of many indulgences that many would say make life worth living.
Two, there really aren’t any practical benefits of going from “good” to “amazing” fitness, so to speak.
Three, I can decide (and I have) that I don’t need to be as big, strong, and ripped as possible – I’ve realized that my prior motivation to do so was largely driven by insecurity, and not by anything actually worthwhile.
Giving up on the the demigod physique is an example of something that I’ve sacrificed. And why? Because time, energy, simplicity, flexibility, freedom, and ease are all more important to me than everybody who doesn’t actually give a shit that I have bulging biceps and a rippling six pack or that I can deadlift over 500 pounds.
And that word ‘ease’ is precisely why sacrifice is a critical component of efficient health and fitness – not only is sacrifice unavoidable, it is the only thing that is truly 100% efficient. If you can figure out how to get closer to the end-game by simply avoiding doing something, you’ve just moved the needle with zero time or effort.
Another way to put it: If you can decide that the needle doesn’t need to move so far, then you don’t have to move it as much.
To loosely paraphrase an idea of prof. Jordan Peterson’s: choose your sacrifices – we all have to make them, so we might as well choose what they are, or else life will choose for us, and the latter scenario is almost always going to be worse.
A few more examples:
Maybe you’re willing to sacrifice variety and palatability. Well? That’s a great way to keep a diet under control – no one ever got obese eating plain apples and potatoes every day.
Maybe you’re willing to sacrifice a little comfort. Well? If you can tolerate the extra hunger from calorie restriction you can save time and energy that you would have otherwise had to spend on being active in order to keep the energy equation balanced.
Or maybe you are one of those people who’s willing to sacrifice more time and energy than most. Well? Then you can enjoy eating more food if you’re active enough to offset the calories.
You get the idea, which in summarizing conclusion is this:
- No one can “have it all.”
- Choose your sacrifices to prioritize the limited amount of things that you can possibly have.
- …Otherwise, life will choose the sacrifices for you – everybody has to pay the piper – and that’s almost certainly going leave you worse off.
- Not only is sacrifice necessary, it is the most effective way to achieve efficiency – you get a result in exchange for giving something up, which takes zero time and effort by literal definition.
- If you can decide that there’s something that you don’t actually need, then that becomes sacrifice that’s 100% easy to make – the more of those you can find the better, they’re no-brainers.