Sacrifices: Squeezing the Balloon

Your time is precious. Every second, minute, and hour that I sit writing this for my sons, I am dedicating time toward this one activity over another. Every minute we make decisions. Do I grab coffee or continue writing this report? Do I play basketball with the guys after work or have dinner with my girlfriend? Do I take the job overseas or stay close to family and friends? Do I forgo an immediate income by attending graduate school, or do I jump into the workforce? Do I go workout or sit on the couch and surf channels? Time is our most valuable resource, but often our most wasted, as it’s sometimes invisible to us.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sacrifice this way: “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” Essentially, we can’t have it both ways. We’ll all have to make larger choices that will ultimately mold our lives, and these choices almost always involve sacrifice. How important to you is having children or financial success? How will your career choice influence your daily life? For instance, if you choose to be in the military, you’ll have a multitude of benefits, but if you have a family, the long-term deployments could be challenging.

Many years ago, I was on a flight coming home from a short work trip during Thanksgiving week. I sat next to a man who struck up a conversation. It turned out he was a senior referee for the NBA. As we talked, he was typing away, creating the schedule for the NBA referees. With all of his airline travel, I was surprised that he was in the cheap seats with me. He explained that he’d missed his flight, so this was his only option—next to me. Lucky guy.

I found his profession interesting, so naturally I began asking questions. Before long, we were knee-deep in an honest and heartfelt discussion. He explained that he had played basketball for a few years, but despite his efforts, he just wasn’t good enough to stay in the NBA. Being a referee was the next best option.

I asked him where he was spending the holidays.

“On the road,” he said.

At one point, he sat back and looked as though he was peering into his past. He told me of his youth. He described himself as the star basketball player in high school; in college, the NBA drafted him. As the talent of the players around him increased, his playing time decreased. He talked about how the lure of being an NBA star drew him in, but in hindsight, he questioned the sacrifices he’d made along the way. He would say, “Beware of the glitter in life.” Short-term joys pull you in, but in the longer term—and in the bigger picture—they may lead you in the wrong direction.

As he spoke, I made a comment about his success. So few people have made it to such heights. He had been in the NBA! Smiling, he said, “Yes, I was . . . but not for long.” He seemed proud of himself, but somewhat conflicted.

Life is a carefully crafted dance. When you step in one direction, you need to balance that decision with your next move. We can’t always see the outcome of our choices and sacrifices, but we can try to focus on the bigger picture. We can try to imagine how a big decision is likely to play out. Always be one step ahead. Your choices, which are ultimately sacrifices, will impact your next move.

When you give your attention to one thing, you’ll naturally have less to focus on another. Like a balloon being squeezed, your attention will bulge on one end and narrow at the other. In this referee’s case, he was living a professional life many would envy, but his personal life was being squeezed out. If he was content and at peace with his sacrifices, then he would know he had made the right decisions for himself. In the end, you too will want to be content and at peace. If you’re moving in the wrong direction, it’s never too late to correct your path.

You’ve got this:

Every day, every minute you are making choices and sacrifices. Be conscious that those choices are moving you in the direction of your dreams.


Dina Mauro has worked in the technology industry for over twenty-five years, twenty with one of the largest IT companies in the world. Through her love for animals, Dina began rescuing dogs, volunteering, and, ultimately, writing.

Dina is the author of A Dose of Tia: How a Woman and Her Rescued Dog Embraced Life Through Volunteering – and How You Can, Too. Initially, as a personal, heartfelt gift to her sons, but later published for the public, Dina went on to pen You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve.

She also volunteers at Denver Pet Partners, Swedish Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital Colorado, along with her three sons.

Dina lives in Denver with her husband, Bob, and their three sons, Owen, Ethan, and Aiden.


As a parent, author Dina Mauro was so hyper-focused on competing and comparing her children to other children that she almost lost sight of what they required to thrive. She realized that when they thrive, everything in their lives falls abundantly into place.

You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve steers the reader through critical “markers” along life’s way: improving oneself, conquering obstacles, achieving goals, and cultivating relationships. Other stops on the journey include heading off to college, entering the work world, making decisions, managing technology, speaking in public, and many more.

You’ve Got This! is a long-overdue guidebook that illuminates forty-seven achievable strategies and real-world advice for not just living—but thriving! Now grads have the roadmap for facing challenges that left untouched can become big distractions to an exceptional life. 


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