Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurt? You know – that aching knot in the pit of your stomach that won’t go away because there’s one thing that seems just out of arm’s reach?  

Maybe for you, it’s something as simple as losing 10 pounds. Or maybe it’s something as significant as paying off your debt, saving for retirement, and leaving a lasting legacy behind for your family and community. 

Whatever it is, we’ve all felt it – the desire to have something we don’t. The longing of wanting something so badly that it shakes us to our very core. 

Lessons From My Father 

My dad used to tell me that I could do anything I wanted to do… as long as I gave up other things to make it happen. 

This was his expansion on the ever-so-popular phrase, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” 

And boy, was my dad right. 

You see, you can have everything you want. You can do anything you set your mind to.

But there is always a price. Nothing is handed to you without a cost. It doesn’t just magically happen. You must give up other “wants” to make it happen. 

Making Trade-Offs

I refer to this process of “giving up wants” as making trade-offs. This is something you do every single day whether you realize it or not. 

Whenever you do (or don’t do) something, you’re giving up (or gaining) something else in return. 

Here’s what I mean. 

Let’s say you’re burning desire is to pay off $100,000 in debt. But every year you purchase new clothes, every other year you buy a new iPhone, every three years you upgrade your car, you charge vacations to your credit card, and you enjoy dinners out with friends and nice bottles of wine. 

Even though you’re ‘deepest’ desire is to be debt-free, you’re not sacrificing anything to make it happen.

Getting What You Truly Want Is Not Easy (But You Knew That Already)

You have to embrace not having those short-term “wants” in order to get the one thing you really, really want – financial freedom. 

Jonathan, I do really want to pay off that $100,000, but my kids are young. I take vacations because I want to build memorable experiences with them. It’s not because I don’t want to pay off debt – I do!” 

I completely understand where you’re coming from. I, too, want to build treasured memories with my two children that they can look back on for a lifetime. 

But you want to know what I want even more than that? To give my children the gift of not having to financially support me in my old age. I want to give them the gift of knowing their parents are financially secure. AND, I want to give them the gift of understanding trade-offs they will have to make in their own lives.

So, what does that look like in the short-term? 

It might mean foregoing some expenses for a few years (heck, even a decade) until you’re able to achieve your long-term goal of financial security. It might mean driving the same car for 8 years. It might mean camping memories instead of European memories. Or it might mean something entirely different. 

When you trade away what you think you want in the short-term to get what you actually want in the long-term you’re taking steps that lead to a better, freer future – one with less stress and more time to do the things you love with the ones you love. 

Isn’t that what we want? 

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Grab a pencil and paper and jot down any financial goals you want to accomplish. Then, list out the trade-offs you’re willing to take to make them happen. Keep this paper where you can view it every day. Let it remind you of what you’re really working toward.