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What No One Tells You About Being Successful

During the past four years, I transitioned to a healthier lifestyle, and I’ve learned an important lesson that successful people all over the world have learned. It goes like this: if you want something, you need to give something else up first.

I had to make a lot of trade-offs to get to where I am now. I had to give up stuff that others would never consider living without:

  • I dropped refined sugar from my diet
  • I stopped drinking alcohol
  • I gave up partying on weekends
  • I hit the gym between four and six times per week, every week for four years straight
  • I gave up the luxury of eating whatever was on the menu
  • I gave up social events to get eight hours of sleep each night.

Most of us want stuff – more money, better relationships, bigger apartments, faster cars, greater careers. But few are willing to make trade-offs to get them. There’s a reason why not everyone is driving a Model S, lives on a private island, retires early, dates models, and has a V-shaped body.

Photo of a ballerina's legs

Lasting success only comes through hard-work and making trade-offs

It’s all about how much you want it and how important it is to you, whether it’s business success, a six-pack, the perfect marriage, or long-lasting relationships. Not everyone wants a six-pack. But if it’s important to you, there are questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you want it more than going out with your friends and getting drunk?
  • Do you want it more than Nutella and pancakes?
  • Do you want it more than spending two hours every day in front of the TV?
  • Do you want it more than the next guy?

If you want it that bad, then you’re willing to do everything to have it. You’re willing to go out and watch your friends binge-eat, while you chew on your boring chicken salad, because you’re on a diet for 11 months every year. No matter how rich or poor you are, you only have 24 hours in a day. No more, no less – so you need to prioritise. Not only about what you want to spend your time on, but also about what you want to achieve. You can’t have it all.

  • If you want a glorious career, you have to either give up family time or sleep
  • If you want family time, you have to give up staying late at work
  • If you want a great waistline or to build muscle, you need to give up all the things I had to
  • If you want financial security, you have to give up your dream of being an entrepreneur
  • If you want to travel the world full-time, you have to give up the security of having a home and most of your relationships
  • If you want to read a book each week, you have to give up TV time and potatoing.
Photo of a pizza

You won’t have a lot of this if you want a great body

It’s a game of give and take. Don’t let successful people on TV fool you. Contrary to what it looks like, they don’t have it all either. Many entrepreneurs gave up their 20s and 30s to become successful; so did LeBron and Usain Bolt. And they did it because they wanted success more than anything else. More than cake, more than late-evening wine, more than Saturday pork barbecues, and more than fooling around.

Success demands giving up stuff that others don’t want to. Most people don’t understand you need to make trade-offs, so they will pressure you into not being a party pooper. It’s only one drink man, it won’t do any harm. You’re on the right path, so don’t give in. You’re doing the right thing. Keep at it! One day it will all pay off. It’s what all successful people have had to go through.

Of course, on that day everyone will talk about how you are an overnight success. But I’ll leave that for some other time…