Throughout our lives, we’ve all made sacrifices. We’ve given up one thing to obtain another. Some of us have given up sweets to lose weight or cut spending to get out of debt. When we sacrifice, there’s an obvious goal we’re aiming for.
In the beginning, it’s difficult to see how these sacrifices could transform our lives. But this weekend I was reminded how the best things in my life are the result of discipline and sacrifice. I hope that sharing this story will inspire you to stay disciplined as you chase down your big bold dreams.
Six years ago I came to the realization that I had created a life that was not aligned with what I valued. Like so many, I was going through the motions, hoping that someday I would be able to do all those things I’ve been dreaming of. In a moment of Kairos, I realized that I couldn’t keep doing that for another 30 years.
In that moment, our lives changed forever. My husband, Jer, and I began building a foundation to have the freedom to go after our someday dreams now. The cornerstones of this foundation included our health, relationships, finances, and personal development. As we made progress in one area, we saw positive changes in others.
Looking back, these changes happened very quickly. In less than a year we had our health back on track. It took two and a half years to create financial freedom. And our relationship and personal growth continue to strengthen daily.
While all of that is wonderful and I’m grateful for the success we’ve had achieving our goals, I’m even more grateful for the unexpected joy we found through discipline and sacrifice. Today we enjoy a lifestyle we could never have imagined on that day six years ago.
The summer we started dating, we went camping together. On that trip, it rained and flooded the tent we were staying in. We packed up that night and left and I swore I would never camp again.
Cycling, on the other hand, is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a little girl. I continued to bike on and off as an adult, but it was mostly just a workout. Jer and I both enjoyed it yet we didn’t take it too seriously.
Just six years later, we had a blast disconnecting in a secluded campsite on the shore of Lake Superior. We spent the first two days of our trip riding more than 110 miles, with more than 4,500 feet of climbing. On the third day, as I walked down to a secluded beach for a day of reading, I was nearly bursting with joy and gratitude. I pondered how we got here and I realized this is the result of discipline and sacrifice.
When we decided to create financial freedom we knew we had to cut back on our weekend getaways to cabins and lake homes. We still wanted to spend time up north, so I decided to give camping another shot. We used the equipment we had, got a few hand me downs, and bought the bare necessities. We had a lot of fun exploring new areas and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Over the years we’ve upgraded our equipment as it needed replacing. We now enjoy camping in a comfortable three-season backpacking tent, plush insulated air pads, and warm sleeping bags. It’s always a pleasant experience, even in the rain.
Along the same lines, when we decided to pay off our mortgage, we had to say no to our expensive weekend activities. No more going out to dinner, bars or brunch. We needed to find free and cheap things to do. We had bikes already and once we realized we had nothing else to do on the weekends, biking became our obsession.
After we finished paying off our mortgage, we began upgrading our cycling equipment as well. We were actually spurred into action when one of our bikes was stolen from our garage. But hey, we had no bills so even though it was annoying, it all turned out okay.
We have so much fun doing both of these activities together. We’ve also learned new skills and how to work better as a team. These simple things have brought so much joy to our lives. We love them so much that we already have next year’s trip planned.
I never imagined that we’d be where we are when we made that decision to change our lives. It wasn’t always easy to stay motivated. We screwed up plenty of times. But the unexpected joy and happiness we found are worth more than any moment of sacrifice.
What change are you working on in your life? Can you notice unexpected changes starting to take shape? Can you think of other ways your sacrifice might bring joy to your life?
Wherever you are, whatever you’re trying to do, stick with it. The payoff is sure to be better than you could imagine. I’m so happy we put the effort into creating change and I know that you’ll be happy too.