Success Requires Sacrifice – But Why Is Sacrifice So Hard?

In the early days of humanity, food was scarce.

So, the brain evolved to encourage gorging, or overeating.

The body then stored any excess nutrients in the liver and in fats cells throughout the body.

NeanderthalWhen scarcity returned, the nutrients stored in the liver and fat cells were converted to energy and used to keep humans alive, until the next opportunity to gorge presented itself.

This process of gorging has been hardwired into our DNA over millions of years of battling food scarcity.

Today, food scarcity in most industrialized economies around the world is uncommon.

Instead, almost everywhere you turn, there is food.

Restaurants, fast food outlets, pizzerias, supermarkets, convenience stores and farm markets freckle the landscape in just about every town.

This food abundance, in terms of humanity’s millions of years existence, is hot-off-the-press brand new.

It is so new, in fact, that our brains have not adjusted to this new reality.

Our brains are still stuck in the caveman days of food scarcity.

As a result, we are still hardwired to eat all of the food we can.

Hence, our modern day obesity epidemic.

This obesity epidemic is the result of two separate brain systems who are at war with each other.

One system drives the more powerful desire for instant gratification and the other system drives the less powerful desire to sacrifice, or delay gratification.

Instant Gratification System

The ventromedial area of the frontal cortex, the newest addition to our amazing brain, is the passion system that links to the limbic system and brain stem, two very old and powerful parts of the brain that have been around for millions of years.

Hungry Girl In A RestaurantThis ventromedial area alerts the limbic system and brain stem whenever food is present.

Together, the limbic system and brain stem send a signal along the vagus nerve, a long mass of neural fibers that connects the brain to the stomach, to eat.

The hunger pain you feel, is the stomach’s response to that signal.

Delayed Gratification System

The 200,000 year old newly evolved ventrolateral area of the frontal cortex is the self-control system that goes to war with the brain stem and limbic system in an effort to overpower this dominating desire to eat.

It’s not a fair fight.

It’s akin to a battle between David (frontal cortex) and Goliath (brain stem and limbic system).

And, for most people, instant gratification wins the war.

But, as you recall, David defeated Goliath.

Meditative Young Businessman Is Trying To Find The Best Solution For Business Development. Arrows On The Concrete Wall.And, similarly, it is possible, even probable, to overcome the desire for instant gratification.

Those who are able to get the brain’s passion system and self-control system working in harmony with each other in the pursuit of success, become self-made millionaires.

How do they do it?

They toss a wrench into this immediate gratification system by doing one simple thing – they change their identity.


When you create a clear vision of the person you desire to be, ten or twenty years into the future, you effectively change your identity.

This vision, or new identity, co-ops the passion system, directing it to assist you in your efforts to become who you want to be ten or twenty years into the future.

Those efforts often require sacrifice, or delaying gratification.

A clear vision of the future you re-directs passion from it’s fondness for short-term instant gratification to a willingness to sacrifice, in order to create the future you – your new identity.

Having a clear vision of yourself, ten or twenty years into the future, literally re-wires your brain and enables you to make the sacrifices success requires.


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Tom Corley


Tom is a CPA, CFP and heads one of the top financial firms in New Jersey. For 5 years, Tom observed and documented the daily activities of wealthy people and people living in poverty and his research he identified over 200 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots” which culminated in his #1 bestselling book, Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals. Visit the website:

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