If you haven’t achieved it yet what do you have to lose?

Every single day there’s a billion different tasks that need to be done. Trash has to be collected. Breakfast has to be cooked. Packages have to be transported. And kids have to be taught. The people that get up every day and tackle these tasks are true heroes. But nobody works hard 365 days without an incentive.

What incentives us? Most people are motivated by one of two things… risk or reward. We don’t want bad consequences like losing things we love. And we want more good consequences like acquiring things we love. That’s the key to people working hard for our goals. But if we haven’t achieved something yet, what do we have to lose?

Here’s my thoughts and answer to the question.

When we start from ground zero, we all want to move forward a few steps. The goal is to advance higher and higher until we’ve accomplished our biggest goals and dreams. That is more than possible because at the bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. That’s why you see so many hungry and determined people from the lowest class rise up to great levels despite all odds. It’s the classic rags to riches story.

But it’s naive to think that at the level of rock bottom, there is nothing to lose. There’s always something to lose. And in my mind the things I can lose on the journey are very clear. The things you can lose going rags to riches are many different things. And the truth is, that journey doesn’t always lead to riches.

One thing I know that can be lost is time. Time is an infinite and never-ending variable in the universe. But our relationship with it is very finite. We only have a handful of years to live and reaching for our goals is a huge investment. The biggest and boldest goals always take a major time commitment. Almost any founder out there can testify to the 24/7 working hours of starting a business. If that business fails, I’ve potentially lost years of my life.

Another thing that can be lost is relationships. Family, friends, and love interests expect a certain level of interaction with you. When you lack on those commitments and instead spend time working, networking, and pursuing goals, you jeopardize them. It takes dedication and laser-like focus to tackle big goals. Your wife won’t sit around for years waiting to feel love and affection. You can lose valuable relationships in the blink of an eye.

Another thing that can be lost is your self. This is the worst of the three in my mind. Overworking yourself and obsessively thinking about selling a startup, losing thirty pounds, or getting your doctorate degree can be overwhelming. It can lead you down a path of thinking and acting like a whole different being. Then when you look up years later, you don’t recognize the life around you not to mention the person in the mirror. That’s a major lose.

These are just a handful of the things that you can lose on your journey. You don’t have to acquire great things for you to have something to lose. You can lose these things in the process of acquiring other things. There’s always something to lose. The problem is how we view these things and the loss of them. Our minds and hearts can sometimes be our worst enemies.

These losses aren’t half as bad as we may think. We may lose time working towards goals, but it will be time well spent learning new things. We may lose relationships working towards goal, but most times it will be the unhealthy relationships. Our true friends will support our ambitions. And we may lose ourself working towards our goal, but we would likely be changing the bad for the good. Humans were designed to forever evolve.

We blow things way out of proportion and exaggerate the pain of loss. Our minds and hearts tell us that we would lose any and everything if we moved forward, reached for greatness, and leapt towards our goals. But that is rarely the case. We should always strive to reach our goals. Because, yes, there is something to lose… but it’s not anywhere near what you’ll gain.

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