To meet your goals, you will inevitably need to let go of, or sacrifice, some instant gratifications or small comforts in favor of long-term gains and greater fulfillment. Your sacrifice, or offering, is the price you are willing to pay for what you want—it’s your commitment, your skin in the game. You cannot cheat this system.
The fact that you need to make an offering doesn’t mean that you need to suffer. It doesn’t need to feel like passive resignation or self-denial. You can make the sacrifice easier by changing your perception about it.
The potential pain of self-discipline is not really a sacrifice, but an investment. Like any other investment, there is the potential of a big reward at the end, and some risk of no reward at all. Those who make the offering may or may not get the end reward—but those who do not definitely won’t get it. Sacrifice simply increases the probability of a better future for you by creating a psychological state where change and progress can happen more easily.
How to make that mindset shift? You can see sacrifice as something that you are doing for yourself, not against yourself. Your offering is you saying yes to yourself, to your aspiration. It is you deciding to live a life in harmony with your higher self. It is you investing in self-mastery and personal growth—and a sense of satisfaction naturally comes with that.
If you see the offering like paying taxes, then you may want to escape it. But if you look at it as an expression of your deepest goals and values, you will welcome it with an open heart. That’s why I say that self-discipline is not self-punishment—but self-respect.
Making an offering makes things real. It shows that your aspiration is true. It is the ultimate proof that you have found something to live for—a true sense of purpose and meaning. And that brings more happiness than the small pleasures given up on the way.
Working hard toward your goal is also an investment in your future happiness—and that guarantees that you will be more satisfied with the result. We tend to value highly the things that we have to pay a big price to get, whether in effort, money, time, or sacrifice. Therefore, making an offering also means that you are able to enjoy the end reward more. It builds up contentment.
Making an offering, even if you don’t have 100% conviction that you will achieve the result, creates buy-in. It forces your brain to generate that conviction, because you don’t want to lose on both fronts. If you were not committed, it makes you commit.
A disciplined life is a good life. In a way, self-discipline is its own reward—because it brings inner strength, equanimity, wellbeing, and several other virtues. And if, at the end of your effortful journey, you also achieve your goal, that is a lovely bonus. The cherry on top.
It may take some time to adapt your thinking. Give yourself that time, because it’s worth it. As self-discipline becomes mindful self-discipline, your path will open up.