athletics track

For four years of college, I sacrificed the “typical” college experience – casual sex, sorority life, keg parties, and late nights doing crazy things – because I was pre-med, had 7 am lab classes, and needed to get good grades so I would be accepted into medical school.

After that, for eight years of medical school and residency, I sacrificed sleep, sanity, my health, my marriage, many of my friendships, and the financial security I would have earned had I gotten a good job straight out of college.

For two more years, after I was a full-fledged doctor, I sacrificed vacations and time off and the luxuries I had delayed for so long so I could collect cases for my OB/GYN boards and earn a difficult board certification.

Finally, at the age of 32, I had done it.  I was a well-respected board-certified OB/GYN who had graduated from prestigious universities, and I had earned a full partnership in a group medical practice with a busy patient load and a six-figure salary.

What I Gave Up

But when I looked back, at the ripe old age of 33, at what I had sacrificed in the wake of my achievement, I felt sick to my stomach.

I had married a fellow medical student, but as much as we loved each other, our marriage didn’t survive residency. I had then married a veterinary student – and that marriage hadn’t survived either.

I had lost four loved ones, but I couldn’t even attend all their funerals, much less fully grieve their loss.

I had been diagnosed with a whole slew of “chronic,” “incurable” illnesses and was popping seven medications per day to keep my symptoms under control.

I was unable to take care of myself, much less another living being, so I had to give my beloved dog to my parents.

My friends and family had essentially written me off as a lost cause. While they understood they couldn’t expect much of me because I was a busy doctor doing important things in the world, I had missed their birthdays, forgotten to return phone calls, said “No” too many times when they had invited me out, and failed to be available when they needed me. Over time, they had put me into the category of “We love her but we can’t count on her.” It’s not exactly a recipe for intimacy. 

It’s All About Me

For many years, my life became a strange mix of noble self-sacrifice and focused self-centeredness. At work, I was revered as a physician willing to give up my own needs for sleep, food, bathroom breaks, relationships, or self-care – for the good of my patients.

But in my personal life, it was all about Lissa – my work out-prioritized pretty much everything else. If other people wanted to spend time with me, I pretty much expected them to drop everything the minute I had a blink of free time. And because I was a doctor, people sort of nodded and reluctantly accepted my terms.

Thinking about this still elicits feelings of shame in me, especially because it’s not all in the past. I still find myself behaving this way.

When Does It Stop?

I’m no longer practicing clinical medicine, so I no longer have to make all these sacrifices on behalf of my patients, but now it’s all about my mission – to help heal health care, to lift up my fellow visionary mentoring clients so they can change the world, to speak at events like TEDx, to write books like my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine, or to create curriculum for the training program I’m developing for doctors at the Whole Health Medicine Institute.

When I’m focused on writing my next book or creating content for the Whole Health Medicine Institute or writing a speech, I hear my husband telling my daughter, “Don’t bother Mommy. She’s doing important things to change the world.”

But how long will she need to leave me alone so I can achieve some lofty vision?

My cousin wants me to come to her daughter and son’s birthday party in May, but it’s right after Mind Over Medicine launches, so I’ll be in the midst of a media frenzy and book tour. So her invitation came with the requisite disclaimer – “I understand if you can’t come because your book comes out at the same time.”

My best friend was sick and needed and wanted someone to make her soup or stroke her hair until she felt better. But my calendar was already overbooked with days in the studio, where I was recording the audio version of my book at my publisher’s request.

How much longer will my friends and family have to wait to have reasonable expectations that I will be available when they want and need me?

Then there’s my own self-care, which, in spite of my business manager Melanie’s brilliant attempts to protect my self-care time on my calendar, sometimes gets sacrificed in the name of achieving a goal.

So then I wind up flattened with a virus my immune system would normally fight off, or my dog dies and I’m so leveled by grief that I can’t even meet my professional obligations. 

Taking Stock

At some point, you have to question whether it’s worth it.

Is it worth it if someone cures cancer but dies alone?

Is it worth it if you’ve sung every glorious song that might have otherwise gone unsung, but you sang at the top of your lungs at the expense of your relationships with your kids?

Is it worth it if you’ve changed the world in noble ways, if you’ve helped people heal, if you get love letters every day from those whose lives you’ve touched, but you’ve done it at the price of those you most love?

Is it worth it if the toll such sacrifices take on your body shorten your life?

What Price Are You Willing To Pay?

When you’re going after a challenging goal – whether you’re finishing graduate school, writing a book, rounding up funding for your charity, or starting up an entrepreneurial visionary business, how much sacrifice is worth it? And for how long?

Does the payoff of pursuing a dream, following a calling, and changing the world overweigh the price you sometimes have to pay to achieve what you dream?

If you choose not to pay the price, can you make peace with letting go of the dream, tending the wounds of your disappointment with the payoff of taking better care of your relationships and your health?

When Is Enough Enough?

I can’t help asking myself when do I say, “Enough is enough.”

As I wrote in this post Stop Striving, You’re Already Enough, it’s easy to get caught up in perpetual striving, chasing after the proverbial brass ring that is always just out of reach.  Then you blink, and life passes you by, and at the end, you’ve achieved phenomenal success only to realize you missed the point.

Or did you? If you helped a million people along the way, creating a legacy that will long outlast you, are the sacrifices worth the price? 

It All Comes Down To Priorities

I think each of our answers will differ. This is a very personal question. But for me, I’ve decided it’s worth the price in the short run – that to achieve greatness in anything you really care about, there’s usually a sacrifice you must pay in the short term. But there comes a time when it’s time to get your priorities straight – to really dig deep into what matters in your life, what you want your life to be about, how much you care about the health of your body, and how you want to be in relationship with those you love.

If you fail to reevaluate when that time comes, it’s way too easy to get on the treadmill and wind up running blindly towards a “there” that never comes. And then at the end, you’re saddled with regret about what you gave up to get what you got.

But that’s just me.

What do YOU think?

How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to fulfill a dream, change the world, or serve others? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Still noodling and curious about your thoughts,

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  1. playcrane

    Oh dear Lissa. I wish I could sit face to face and discuss this with you. Someday…

  2. Ken Jaques

    Wow, even just sharing your story has to be a bit of a release for you. As I read it, I found myself asking what I was getting into with my big audacious dreams. And for me, I know it has to be all about balance. That, and not being afraid to ask for help..I won’t be able to do it all alone. But I won’t listen to my own message, I’ll try to do it alone… for a while. And then I’ll remember my own message that it’s okay to ask for help. And I’ll ask someone or some community to help me out. And they will. Then my passion will take me on a deep dive again. Then I’ll remember to ask for help again. I don’t think your passion is ever going to leave you, it’s so ingrained. And you’re sssoooooo not alone in this. You have inspired so many, they are there to help. Big hugs, Ken

  3. Anne Walsh

    Wonder if a man would be faced with the same dilemma…My thoughts on it would be that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. And if your big dream doesn’t materialise -what then? I suppose the question is it possible to negotiate/navigate the important connections so that they are maintained (at some level) while working for the dream – whatever that is…

    • Katherine

      I found myself wondering the same thing. Would a man be asking these same questions?

      • Carolyn Messere

        I don’t know if a man would be asking these questions, but I do think he might want to give it a try. I know a lot of overwhelmed men, but there is a lot less room in their lives to declare themselves overwhelmed.

      • nickel4thoughts -

        I do. I was in a graduate program with similar work as Dr. Rankin and soon it overwhelmed my family’s relationship with me and even affected my health. I was so miserable and I kept going at it because of the pressures put on me by others or the so-called status in life.

        I’m relived that I had the courage to say enough is enough. While everyone can’t make similar decision, there’s a reason why these self-reflections are personal. I made the decision to move on given my health. The relationships have not fully rekindled, but there’s room for improvements.

        • Doris Dehne

          I am speechless — well, not quite — that medical doctors put themselves through such a health destroying program. Their mothers knew more about staying healthy than they did after going through all that.
          Shame on the AMA and whoever else is responsible for running so many of our best and brightest into the ground!

          • sophie

            Wow, that was well said!

    • Frank

      It seems odd to ponder upon the thoughts of men in this manner. The article was not exclusive to women through any grammatical sleight of hand to verbally exclue men in an indirect fashion. So the article speaks to both men and women. The general observations of the article tells you that the answer is yes: this applies to any and all who seek achievement.

      To expand upon that however, why would a man not feel the same way? Men are not inherently more antisocial or undesiring of social interactions- rather the opposite. Poor social interaction spurs on a shopping list of psychological issues for both men and women.
      Why would men not care about medical issues sprouting from poor behavior? Self preservation is relevant to all living beings.
      No need to carry on, as the rest will be self evident as well- I’ll let you pull the ‘moral of the story’ out of this.

  4. Debbie Davis

    I have been thinking about this question myself. I am in the sandwich time of life… between taking care of kids and aging parents. Time for my own work, building a business and achieving my dreams, is less now then maybe when I was in my 30s and I felt like superwomen. However, I still have a dream in my heart and work that I feel called to do. So, when time allows I follow my passion. However, right now my priorities are my loved ones. I feel like my creator has given me the clarity to put them first. It feels good. It feels right. Thank you Lissa for all your great work and sharing.

  5. mary

    Personally, I would say no, it’s not worth it.

  6. Nicole Talbot

    I can relate to this a family medicine doctor. wow. Reading this was powerful. It is making me think.

  7. Elizabeth

    I do not think it is “short term for you” … you are just CHOOSING to tell yourself that or in actuality your are ALLOWING your ego to let you believe in this illusion. Until you CHOOSE to do it differently it will never change. If you listen to your Spirit Body and not your Ego, all of the positive changes and success will still happen – and not at the expense of yourself or your loved ones. Start “tapping into your AM” – the essence of who you are, the guide to your life’s purpose … this is your direct link to God and Universal Source of Energy … and you will find your balance.

  8. Virginia Watson

    Oh, Lissa…

    I’m saying this with full knowledge that I’m writing this comment as much to (and for) myself, as I am for you.

    You are such a beautiful person. You are so loved, and are so loving.

    There’s no shame or pain in any of this. Extend your circle of forgiveness to yourself, and change what needs to be changed.

    It sounds like you’re telling yourself stories about what’s happening in the present moment (and what has happened in the past) and that these stories are not helping. So, stop. Accept what is. Love and be loved. Show your love (to yourself and others) how you can. And know that whatever you’re doing in the present moment is enough.

    Lots of love.

  9. shannon beck

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could have it all? To everything there is a season. The key is to be is to be IN the season we are called to right now. People matter most. Sometimes we only need to turn our gaze a little bit, or shift our bodies to open up space to really see those who are closest to us. Even those of us who sacrificed “for the family” feel this some days. How present were we, really, when we wanted to be out doing “our” thing… Every day is a gift. Today I will bring my own heart back into the present. Thank you for that reminder.

  10. sweta

    I say why does it have to be or the other? I believe we can all design our lives to have what is important. You can save the world one day at a time – it doesn’t have to happen over night. The inspiration and knowledge you have will not go anywhere. Does one book have to come right after the other? Do you have to do so much press? If you are the vehicle through which God speaks the students will come. I know for me, I want to model my life after those who have designed their life to have all areas be full of joy (most of the time) and sometimes, that may mean letting go of our “all or nothing attitudes” (which I myself am really working on). It does all work out – if we let it 🙂 I elude to some of this in my latest blog Thank you so much for sharing! Sweta

  11. Ingrid Huebner

    Oh my gosh…..this piece you’ve written hits WAY too close to home for me! I am a pastor, and it is not unusual to work 60 (and sometimes 80 hours) per week, and be available 24/7. I, TOO, just kept going and going until I suffered a heart attack last fall. After surgery and recovery time, I vowed to not give my life away to work and to those who asked without making intentional, balanced and sometimes unpopular decisions. Priorities are important, but only YOU know what yours are. EVERYTHING is a choice, and everything has a price. (To do one thing, you always give up another.) The best time to plant a tree is, obviously, 20 years ago. The next best time is NOW. Choose wisely for the remainder of life. It’s the only one you have.

  12. Helen MacDonald

    Society demands that we ” make something of ourselves” at any price. We are driven by wrong headed attitudes towards life.

  13. sandy

    I link this post back to your recent series on being ‘eggy’ vs ‘spermy.’

    This post feels like the voice of a person in a spermy mindset. Rationally assessing all potential tasks to be done (loving, building, writing, etc) and considering how they will fit in the 24/7/365 schedule we all operate within.

    Or do we?

    What I find inspiring about the idea of being eggy – and the work of great people like Martha Beck – is that we can allow a sort of lightening up of this way of experiencing the world.

    We can make time to take a nap. Relax. Be playful.

    And often when we do, we find mindful ways to pare back our full-throttle schedule. Or at least, commit to identifying a time when the craziness will end (e.g., once this book tour is over, I will take four weeks with minimal professional commitments to relax and regroup with family and friends).

  14. Jennifer Moccio

    Dear Lissa, I love how you are working this out and weighing pros and cons as you write. It seems like a daily struggle with out one simple solution or answer. Letting go of your dream won’t be okay for you now or in the long run. Pursuing it leaves you with a feeling of guilt now and later. Balancing it is the only KEY to success all around. There can be no balance when a person spends so much time doubting. I can very much relate to this predicament. My only way to create balance for myself is through self discipline. Watching my children grow up, I am aware every single day, how quickly it slips away. On the days I do the best I can with work and family (self discipline- knowing when to say yes/no to whomever, how, when, and where to spend my time and effort.) What more is there to ask for? When I sincerely did my best, I am happy. When the day is gone, and I’m left with regrets, it’s just to much of a crappy feeling. I really can’t stand those days! I also think looking for the KEY is part of our journey though, so there is no real answer. Day by day……..
    This afternoon I have a date with my son after school to play dinosaurs! My work will have to wait. It just will, and when I get to it, I’ll probably accomplish more of it in a shorter time because I will be full of magic have given something of extreme value to my boy. I do think men ask these same questions btw.

  15. Monica Moody

    Lisa, thanks so much for your candor on this subject. The world is so dominated by masculine energy that we are easily fooled into thinking that our greatest contributions will come from outward activity.

    As a seeker, I’m learning that the greatest gift that we can bear is to be in a place of true joy, peace, love and balance. We can’t see, touch or feel the contributions that come from a feminine place and therefore, they can’t be measured . . . except for . . . in how we feel.

    Beyond this, a constant inward reflection where we create the time and space to grow in our own awareness and consciousness can be much more powerful than any work that we do in the world. I’m reminded of the saying, “Lighthouses don’t go all over the island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining.”

    Finally, I wanted to note that many times, the emergence of a question is the answer itself. There’s a sense of longing in your post and your words indicate that you are clearly unsettled. So perhaps that’s the answer itself, reaching out to you to ask what it would really take for your life to feel in balance.

    The beauty is the fact that you are open about your inquiry as many healers purport to have ALL of the answers to, EVERY question.

    Wishing you the absolute best!

  16. John Corcoran

    This really speaks to me right now. I have been working on my business – too much. And I came to realize that no matter how much I want my efforts to build the future of my dreams, I need to put as much effort in to the present, and to being a presence in my wife and my son’s lives. Because I wouldn’t want a great success in the future if they don’t come with me.

  17. Dara

    Deep at the heart of your inquiry (which is so brave, on target and insightful), is the question of motivation. What is the Truth underneath the motivation and drive that would have you sacrifice your self-care and closest relationships? If we are truly being guided by God/Spirit/Truth/Love/The Divine, and not our egos, we don’t sacrifice who and what we hold most dear. I believe we can have a deep heart calling and stay absolutely true to that. However, if it’s coming from a pure place, we don’t leave sacrifice and harm (to ourselves or others) in it’s wake. I also believe that only spermy egos set goals and the eggy mindset you wrote about so beautifully would allow what wants to happen in the world through you to unfold naturally, and at a pace where all involved remain whole. Thank you for being so open about your journey.

    • julia fehrenbacher

      “If we are truly being guided by God/Spirit/Truth/Love/The Divine, and not our egos, we don’t sacrifice who and what we hold most dear. I believe we can have a deep heart calling and stay absolutely true to that. However, if it’s coming from a pure place, we don’t leave sacrifice and harm (to ourselves or others) in it’s wake.”

      Dara, your words gave me goosebumps. They ring so very true. I think we need to look very closely if we find we are leaving “sacrifice and harm” in our wake.

      So often we begin pursuing our dreams from a place of divine guidance/love but then our never-enough-egos take over and start to run the show–thinking it must always be about doing more, being more, having more. When things don’t look the way our minds/egos think they “should” look, we judge it as wrong/not enough/failure. When we find we are harming ourselves or those we hold most dear, this is the wake-up alarm that shows us that we are off track (following ego rather than Love/God/The Divine). I see clearly that quieting our minds, tuning in, listening deeply is the only way to find our way back to Center/Love…true Truth.

      Lisa & each of you who have contributed here, thank you so very much for these important questions.

      • roseoftralee

        Julia and Dara, my thoughts also went in this direction. I don’t think we can discern priorities until we understand what is driving us. I know my ego drives me to compensate for a variety of unresolved wounds, nicks, cuts from childhood that shaped my determination to become SomeOne Wonderful. Not exactly an elightened approach to developing my gifts for service to the world. As Dr. Daniel Siegel says, we have to learn to remain present to our own subjectivity (with its pain, disconnection, fear, woundedness). My goal is to sit mindfully with my painful memories/experiences until their sting leaves me, leaving me more free to choose my actions, leaving me less at the mercy of my ‘drive’. Thoughts anyone?

  18. Mary Straub

    Wow! You have a lofty and valuable goal. But the world needs you to come alive with the joy in your journey, not dead inside to achieve it. Just wont work. Law of attraction can only bring us the same vibration we are emitting.
    What a great gift you are giving the world with your sharing all of it!!

  19. Elke Neubeck

    I feel exactly what you are talking about. Circumstances in my life made me think exactly the same. We only listen, once we are in need for HELP to realize there maybe nobody around because we left them out, too busy doing what we think we had to do. What is life all about? Its all about love, connections with the family, oneness, sharing, caring, supporting. A healthy community starts within the family. A SECURE place where we all feel protected and supported in order to stay grounded, happy, and mostly healthy. We know we can TRUST this center! While the stress from the outer world, restrictions, laws and rules from those who make them, causing human to fall into fear because its all about money, to represent and live an expected standard to be accepted by society. Because if not, we may belong to a lower class of people. And of course, we do not accept that vision of us. That focused is an orientation on the outer world, trying to fit into that box, doing anything to bee seen and loved, in order to feel good. But somehow we feel uncomfortable and think we not doing enough yet. So we do more and more…..we repeat circle by circle, over and over again. On this planet we are never done, we keep evolving and learning, no end. As you say: When is it enough? When do we realize ITS ENOUGH?! Myself I do feel it is enough and give up fighting. I want to live in harmony and enjoy with my family and be there for each other. We learn so much that now the time has come to teach it to our children and grand children. They are the first once to be taken care of, before anybody else. They are our own flesh and blood, Why put them in a corner for the gain of a title or any other material gain, which faints anyway. While the LOVE and caring for each other last a life and after. Thank you for your article. It was great to read it and to come forth with these words of my own truth and to clearer myself. Namaste. Elke Neubeck

  20. Hadley Richarde Earabino

    Profound questions. Makes me feel better about my decision to stay at home with my baby boy this time around. One thought for you, Lissa, more posts about your grief over losing your yorkie might help you AND others. I underestimated my own grief over losing my yorkie, and ended up in the hospital. xo

  21. Kristen

    My father died 25 years ago. In his final days, he wished he’d invested less time “building” his life and more time spending it with his family. Great lesson for me to learn at 16, but still sometimes struggle to find the right balance. Just asking the question is a good sign that you won’t be disappointed in the end though. Love the blog entry, Lissa – thank you! Kristen

  22. Amy

    What a powerful essay on choices. I had a very different experience, but I have to say, it is never worth it to miss out on your children growing up. My current husband missed out on his children until they were young adults – he can’t get back any of those precious moments. I gave up financial security, and hope of retiring before I’m 90 to raise my children myself (after my ex-husband essentially traded custody to me for $$$ in return). I’m 45, my youngest will start college in September, and my IRA has $2,000 in it. Would I do it again? You bet your ass I would. My kids are amazing, independent, with great priorities and work ethics – and even having been raised from the ages of 3 and 5 by a single mom living at about the poverty line, they both reflect on what an awesome childhood they had. Sure I have days that I panic about money, but all in all, I’m so happy I did it this way.

  23. Sarah

    This struck a nerve for me too! Great post Lissa. I’ve sacrificed a lot at various times for career pursuits, and have often questioned if it’s all worth it. Does my ‘calling’ have to be my paid work? Can I be happy with a more well-rounded, fuller life, rather than being all-in with work?

    I definitely agree with Helen who wrote about being in a society that expects you ‘make something of yourself’. I also think >at times< in the personal development community we can get so hung up on 'being of service' that it can actually be a drain on what we really desire out of life.

  24. disqus_JE49Q2vk7A

    I love that you tackle this very difficult subject and so beautifully honest. I was never a very “spermy” person and knew in my heart and soul that being a stay-at-home mom with our children was the right decision for me and them. It was a big sacrifice at times and now that they are newly out of the nest, I am busy re-defining who I am. It’s a bumpy road at times but so very worth it–I wouldn’t change a thing. I did not always attend to my own personal self-care back in those super busy days but am now making up for lost time! I truly believe that when looking back, making time for your relationships is something you won’t regret but not being there for them just may. Striving for balance that makes sense is a personal thing but once you get it right, you know it.

  25. disqus_Ze5XZomZpp

    Powerful. Honest…You’re sending us messages from an Inner Pilot. Are you seriously listening to yours??

  26. Jaya

    Lissa, I am always inspired by your journey that you share with us and your spirit touches mine deeply. Acceptance is all there is and that is all we are! Each one of us has a unique gift and a calling in life and so go with the flow is my motto! Tears to triumph and we are the ones we have been waiting for…connection is so important and in gratitude to you for sharing and inspiring me!

  27. Briar Bentley

    there is no doubt in my mind that in order to achieve greatness in anything, priorities have to be set and goals must be clear. The trick of course is to regularly set aside time to evaluate progress and to see if the goals and priorities have changed, or if they need to be.
    Most of us start out with a clear goal, but how many have the vision to look at the balance of personal achievement and the needs of family/ whanau?

  28. Melissa Allfrey

    Lissa: I have a lot of respect for what you’re trying to achieve in life, but, to be blunt, you are not walking your talk. How can you expect to change the medical profession and encourage people to take responsibility for their health (by caring for themselves, part of which involves making time for those you care most about) if you are still dashing through your own life in the way that you learned during your medical training? Please start taking more time for yourself before you have to abandon your goals due to permanent ill health.

    • Lissa_Rankin

      Thank you all for all your feedback. I read every comment and hear and witness and absorb you all.

      To fill you in, this post was motivated by a month that I knew would be unusually busy- my family and I agreed we could stick it out for a month- but then my publisher threw a project on me I felt pressured into agreeing to do (recording the audio book for Mind Over Medicine) on a tight deadline. I didn’t feel fully free to set boundaries and so no- so I’m right now in the midst of 12 hour days that leave me little time for anything but work. But it will be over in February, and I’ve already told my publisher I need more notice if they have expectations of me…

      So yes. Normally, I have much better balance, I spend quality time with those I love, and I prioritize self care…but then there come times when I think, “What the f*ck am I doing?” And posts like this spew out of me.
      I guess one of my greatest fears of achieving success in this business I’m in is that I will lose balance. So I guess, by questioning, I’m reminding myself that losing balance really is not an option for me…

      • Jennifer Moccio

        The fact that you are free flowing and real with your thoughts is why what you have to say will help, inspire, and remind others and yourself of what matters. I can so relate and love your style! The part about having the fear of achieving success is terrifying isn’t it? You already are successful…. so have no fear!

        • Jasmine Dancho

          agreed, people love honesty!!! I’m in pre-med and its stressful, and I’ve sacrificed all the fun that usually comes with a normal university experience, including time with family. So thank you for being honest, and not just “pretending everything is ok”, and that being a doctor is not all rainbows and sunshine. It’s obviously an AMAZING career but it takes SO much more sacrifice than you can imagine when you first start. I’m still struggling to find a balance and I’m in 4rth year AND after my 3rd year I’ve noticeably aged 🙁

  29. Michelle

    I dated a 37 year old hematologist/oncologist for a few months, and his story strongly resembled yours. He was 34 when he finally was done with training, and then proceeded to work to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Our “dates” were really thinly veiled ways to work with a female companion during the few weekend hours when he wasn’t working. I found myself disenfranchised with him…his work was noble and his brain nimble, but I felt like an afterthought or a convenience to recharge him. That is too high a price to pay, for him or for me, and so we ended when he decided to move to chase a higher paycheck. It’s a lonely concept to think that taking care of others replaces taking care of yourself and having fulfilling relationships in your life, even in the short term. I want more than that for myself.

  30. Lucie Johnson

    This is very timely for me! 18 months ago I started studying for a history degree and at first really enjoyed it but in the last few months I was beginning to resent it, I no longer had time to see my friends, pursue my hobbies or spend time with my boyfriend. I was stressed all the time and it was affecting me in lots of ways and impacting on my relationships with my (8) children. My boyfriend had been very supportive and when I talked of giving up last year he was adamant I should keep on going but last week we had a long talk about it and I told him how much I was hating it and wanted to give it up. But it was a long time ambition of mine to get a history degree (I am 39) so surely I should perservere?? I decided that no, it just wasn’t worth the sacrifices I was making and withdrew from the course earlier this week and oh, what a relief!!! All of a sudden I’m interested in things again, I’ve read two books, I’ve started watching the TV programmes I’ve recorded, I’ve been for coffee with a friend and out dancing with my boyfriend, all without the nagging guilt of having to study. My children have been at their dad’s this week as I had an assignment to write and I am so looking forward to seeing them later today knowing we are going to have a lovely weekend with chilled out mummy who isn’t stressing about studying or assignments!

  31. Debbie

    Thanks for your authenticity. I wish you great success on your vision. If enough of us are working on the same vision – my hope is we can all do it with balance.

  32. Wendy Rutherford

    But there comes a time when it’s time to get your priorities straight – to really dig deep into what matters in your life, what you want your life to be about, how much you care about the health of your body, and how you want to be in relationship with those you love.

    This is a wonderful quote…except we usually wait until it is too late..”the time” will always keep shifting until after “this is done,” or “when I get to the end of that”. Looking back will ALWAYS afford you 20/20 vision..however it is important to put the glasses on at the time. Maybe we should ask the question.. do Great Deeds ALWAYS require Great Sacrifices, or is it a tribal expectation.

  33. Kaylin Lydia

    I can so relate to this post! After I graduated with my MSW, I was so proud of myself but also felt so lost and confused. I had worked so hard for so long and neglected my life (and feelings namely!) to the point where I was completely overwhelmed with life out of school. I was living so unconsciously for so long that I had to re-learn my body! Years later, I still think back on my time in graduate school and get a bit sick. It took so much out of me – if I am being honest, it broke me open completely. I love being a social worker and it has added so much to my life but getting to this point was extremely challenging… I do not regret it for one minute but I would not do it again! : )

  34. Daniel Clough

    I agree that it all comes down to the individual – although it is never, never, never worth it if you are not pursuing something you are passionate about – thats a waste of a life.

  35. Alanna Waldrop

    I have had five miscarriages since April 2011 and have exhausted almost every medical option available. I can definitely relate to this. I have to ask myself some hard questions: I have sacrificed everything (my energy, my work, and my emotional and physical health) for this dream, so when do I call it quits? I don’t want the rest of my life to suffer because I am focused on just ONE of my dreams. So, my husband and I decided that it was time to stop trying and focus on other things that we want in life. I believe that it’s not just about doing the things that are
    important and shelving the things that aren’t priority. It’s also about
    noticing the things that are leaving you feeling “stuck.” Sometimes just
    putting those things on hold for a few weeks or months until they are
    ready to be explored can make all the difference in giving you the time you need to recharge. Focusing on other things has made me realize that, because of the many health problems I have had from an early age, I feel like I have a lot of life lessons to share with others. I have started a blog, and I plan to pursue a second masters in counseling beginning this summer. I suddenly have more time to spend with my husband, family, and work because I am no longer focused on a dream that isn’t working for me. Best wishes to you, Lissa! I am very anxious to read your upcoming book!

  36. Julie

    My biggest question for all of you is: Does it all have to get done RIGHT NOW? Can you take a breath (or a walk with your kids), or ask for an extension? I mean, I understand the wanting to save the world as quickly as possible, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself in the process… LOVe and Light… 🙂

  37. Doris Dehne

    I had no idea how much it takes to become an OBGYN. OBGYNs are way overqualified to deliver babies.

  38. Kathleen

    Oooh this one rings true…. I used my scholarly pursuits as a kid to escape into the only means I could use and not be talked at by my parent about things I got tired of hearing about that they were interested in, whose social skills with adults need work, and who needed an audience. Otherwise, “respect for elders” demanded I was stuck listening to hours-long lectures by a parent who had no clue they were leaning Way too hard on a 12 year old for their own intellectual validation. never asked if I actually wanted to be there. Never noticed me chewing on my own proverbial leash the whole time.

    Essentially, I rebelled by going to the library, doing math homework into the late & early hours, proving to myself my own intellectual superiority, hoping that the fact that my math and science exceeded the experience of anyone in my family would validate ME to people who probably had no clue all I wanted was love… And at some point, anxiety for succeeding and making my own way in the world, and not leaning on anyone, and making plenty of money so I had “enough” became my motive force, propelling me into what to has become a “successful”, if often very annoying and unsatisfying career.
    Wacky, I know, but I am still, two decades later, in recovery for working too hard and ignoring my own needs… Was it worth it? Who knows…

  39. Debra B.

    I think it sounds like the same trap that you’ve been in all along… this time with the excuse of it just being “short term”. I have fallen into that trap…. each choice taken individually, I would tell myself wasn’t that huge and it was only for the short term. And, it was true, for that one decision. BUT the overall pattern added up to what you talk about – to sacrifice connection for whatever it was in that had come up. AFTER I had broken the cycle and learned how to say no, slow down and connect, then I could return to looking at each individual decision. But I still have to be very careful not to say “yes” to too many things and end up right back where I had been. It was and is still really hard to say “no” to such amazingly wonderful opportunities – sometimes I just tell myself “not now”. But once I allowed myself to truly feel the grief from the loss of saying “no”. I was able to embrace what it did create – an ability to be with my son knowing he will grow up absolutely knowing that he is important to me. Because of my ACTIONS, not my empty words.

  40. Frank

    I think the only concern I have with this is the time frame. It’s all put in a perspective as though you cannot achieve your goals in an extended time frame. What if you took a half load every other semester? Put a few extra years on the deadline for your goal and the management issues seem to unravel across the years- to sum it up: this speaks about the sacrifices of instant gratification goal achieving; to achieve your goals in as short of a time as you can. If you achieved your medical degree and your board certifications at the age of 38 or even 40, you’re not limited in your prospects, they are the same. The biggest difference is the ability to manage- to not put off family or those you care about for the excuse of ‘not enough time’ simply because of the undesirable, that being achieving your goals later rather than sooner. I see no disadvantage of achieving your goals in due time rather than sooner. The medical conditons, the destroyed relationships, everything of that nature was a result of time deficit and pushing the goal through quicker than necessary. AND in the end, those ‘sacrifices’ (which now closely resemble symptoms of an illness) are all consequences of an inavilify to be patient, those things are equally important as a goal. What use is a sick doctor? An antisocial therapist? Provide a realistic time frame for the goal to be achieved.


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