If you want to get something, you usually have to give something back in return. When I decided to write my book, I spent two years in my room working – and sacrificed almost all socializing, knowing I couldn’t do both.
Bill Gates knows something about sacrifice. “I stopped listening to music and watching TV in my 20s,” he wrote on his blog last December. “It sounds extreme, but I did it because I thought they would just distract me from thinking about software.”
He kept this up for only five years, however – as long as he felt he needed to.
“These days I’m a huge fan of TV shows like Narcos and listen to a lot of U2, Willie Nelson, and the Beatles,” he wrote.
He’s also discovered meditation as a way to maintain focus.
Berkshire Hathaway honcho Warren Buffet makes sure he stays focussed by keeping a computer-free office and eschewing smartphones, owning just a low-key flip phone. It’s another kind of sacrifice that keeps him focussed and above the fray.
Recently on The Cut, writer Edith Zimmerman wrote a post called “It’s Astounding How Many Problems Can Be Solved By Waking Up Crazy Early.”
There was a time in her life, she explained, when, tasked with new work responsibilities that were a bit of a stretch for her, she met the challenges head-on by getting up early every day. “Like 5 or even 4 a.m.,” she wrote. “Just for a little while, at least, like maybe three or four years.”
The early wake-up time gave Zimmerman extra time to figure out running a website. “I’m not saying that getting up early is a perfect routine that can last forever, but it’s maybe a turbo-charge button to press when confronted with a seemingly unsolvable problem or set of problems.”
The lesson? Sometimes, to achieve your goals, you might need to give up something – books, music, sleep, Netflix – for a concentrated period of time. You can always pick them back up once you’ve reached the finish line.