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In the late 90’s, I decided that I wanted to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). For those of you who are not familiar with the MCSE certification, it recognizes you as a Microsoft computer networking professional. At the time it was a very difficult certification to obtain with six exams and a very low success rate. Did I mention that I had never worked in the computer networking field and didn’t really know what one was, but it sounded really cool?

At the same time, I was really into these new first-person, shoot ‘em up computer games. Remember, it’s the late 90’s. I remember starting to play my favorite game at 9:00 PM one night, telling myself I would play for no more than an hour. The next thing I knew it was 1:00 AM. And that wasn’t the first time that had happened.

When I looked into getting my MCSE, I learned very quickly how difficult this was going to be and how much time it would take, and I had a full-time job as well. I was going to have to work all day M-F and study all evening M-F plus Saturdays in order to pull this off. But when I obtained my MCSE, a $10,000 raise would be waiting for me, and since I was in the process of having my first house built, I needed that raise to pay for the new mortgage. It was May 1st and I had set my goal to earn my MCSE by October 1st, when the house would be ready.

If I was going to pull this off, I had to make a hard decision; there wouldn’t be time for a full-time job, studying, and playing those computer games. Yes, I could tell myself that I would only play for one hour per night, but you already know how well that worked out. No, if I was going to do something in six months, that on average took one year, computer games would have to go!

In order to have one thing, you are going to have to give up something else.

If you want to lose weight you are going to have to give up all the sweets and junk food. If you want to save for a down payment on a house or your retirement, you are going to have to stop going out for lunch and dinner every day. And if I wanted to earn this very difficult certification that was going to give me the salary increase I needed to pay my new mortgage, I was going to have to give up the computer games.

To this day I haven’t played those kind of computer games since. But I did get my MCSE two weeks sooner than I had planned and the raise, and I was able to afford that brand-new house. I have had to make similar decisions throughout my life in order to get the things that I truly wanted.

To say yes to one thing, means that you’ll have to say no to something else.

What are you willing to give up in order to get what you really want?