In my previous blog, I asked what your best life would look like. Having a real understanding of how you want to spend each day is the first step to living a life that makes you happy.

If you don’t even know what you’re searching for, how will you recognise it once you’ve found it? On the other hand, once you know what will make you happy, be that a new career, financial security or travelling the world, you can set out a plan to obtain those things.

Another reason to know exactly what you want is that it will allow you to determine what you’re willing to sacrifice. One of the greatest bummers in life is that nothing worthwhile is free. We have to work hard and compromise along the way. You can either cry in the gym every day and rock those new jeans, or you can choose the ease of the couch and let the jeans fade at the back of the cupboard (I need a daily reminder of this!).

The question of sacrifice is particularly relevant to your financial journey. Most of us would agree that we are not where we want to be financially. Never mind saving or investing – our struggle is to pay up debt and get a handle of our ever increasing living expenses.

So when we think about our best lives, we usually become undone at these money issues. We tell ourselves that if we cannot even manage our current day-to-day spending, we’ll never be able to make the changes necessary to live our best lives.

Of course putting away R500 a month in a savings account for your around the world trip will add to your expenses. And this is where we tend to abandon our dreams. We assume the only way we’ll be able to save that R500 is by increasing our income. While this is a valid route, it’s not the only one.

What if you could free up the R500 in your current spending plan, with your current income? At first glance most of us will say it’s not possible. I disagree. Time and again I have seen that if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can improve your financial situation without increasing your income. It’s difficult, yes, but not impossible.

What lies at the heart of such a change? Sacrifice.

When my significant other and I started dating 6 years ago, our combined finances were a mess. We knew we wanted something other than a mountain of debt, so we committed to changing our spending pattern. Within 18 months, we had paid up all our debt and bought a house. The sacrifice was huge – selling a car, less travelling, fewer date nights out, making do with at times awful cheap wine.

But the gain far outweighs these sacrifices. Aside from buying a house, we’ve managed to pay cash for our various studies as well as the few trips we’ve taken. Most importantly, we’ve managed to save enough money for me to take this enormous leap into entrepreneurship. We’ve been very clear about what we want from our lives, and we’ve chosen to make tough decisions about what we can do without.

We tell ourselves money is the reason we’re not living our best lives. This is accurate for an unacceptable number of people in an economically unequal country such as ours. But for the rest of us, the truth is both simpler and more painful: Our unwillingness to make the necessary sacrifices is thwarting our desire for change.

All these things you so desperately want in your life – what are they truly worth to you? What are you willing to sacrifice so you can live the life you want to?

Get in touch for a cup of coffee if you want to chat about making your best life a reality.