There are no sacrifices, only choices.

One of the philosophies that Jason Stapleton has ground into my head hard is the idea that there is no such thing as sacrifice.


Cue the pearl-clutching and gasping in horror.


"But Vincent," you say. "I made a sacrifice early on! I sacrificed my career to start a family!" No, you didn't. You chose having a family over having a career.

Recognizing your choices in life and their repercussions is important because doing so puts the control of those decisions in your hands.


Let's look at definitions so we can understand the difference between framing something as a sacrifice and framing something as a choice.


Choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.


What's the difference, really? Isn't every choice, by that definition, a sacrifice?


Now think about the societal drama and clout that comes along with "sacrificing." Sacrificing is lauded. When someone makes a sacrifice, they're praised. "Oh look at the sacrifices they made in their life for their career!" Or, even more current, "Look at all they sacrificed to raise a family."


But the concept of sacrifice also implies a reluctance to do the act. You don't "want to" sacrifice your career to raise a family, but you have to. You don't "want to" sacrifice your beautiful home to live closer to a better school. You have to. You make that sacrifice. It's out of your control.


And control is where choice comes in.


The reality of choice versus sacrifice is that choice is just that: the free will to decide something.


Even if the situation seems pre-determined, how you react to it is still your choice. Even if you have to give up something of value, you still make a choice. In fact, missing from the definition of sacrifice is the word choice. A more proper definition, it could be argued, would be "A choice made where something of value is given up for another thing of equal or greater value." I'll sum up this little bit of a meandering thought with a fantastic piece about the topic I read on LinkedIn:

To me, the word "sacrifice" implies something done against one's will. It implies being thrown on the pyre with no possibility of escaping it. And it is not only semantics; it has a significant psychological impact. When we say, "I sacrifice", we feel powerless and defeated, with no way out and no hope for a brighter future. When we say, "I make this choice", we feel empowered and see the end of the end of the dark tunnel. The moment we chose "choice" (yes, that is a choice we make), we open possibilities for changing it. We allow our minds to explore alternatives that otherwise would be unthinkable should we have chosen to "sacrifice". The better option might not be available right away, it might require multiple steps or phases, but it is there. It is something that gives us the energy to take the next step, and the next, and the next. It is something that give us hopes.
I banished the word "sacrifice" from my vocabulary long time ago. Will you chose to do the same?

I already have, Daniela.


And all of you should, also.

Make choices, take ownership of them, and get on with it. The world isn't forcing you to sacrifice, even if it's forcing you to make choices. Make good ones and drop the baggage of a bad word that has no place in a free mind.

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