Can You Afford to Follow Your Dreams? Can You Afford NOT to?

By Sarah Winfrey on 20 March 2007 51 comments
Photo: chromatika

This is where I was going to write a lot of pretty things about having priorities and about how money can't be everything or else you'll die sad. In the last couple of days, though, these ideas have become very personal. So, instead of my pretty thoughts, here's my story.

This semester, Dave began studying to teach Jr. High/High School math. It seemed like a decent career move at the time because, while he has several degrees, he's not particularly marketable outside of a narrow niche and he doesn't want to work in that niche. Teaching picks up on many of his natural gifts and also pays the rent. It's transferrable, so we could eventually move, and it could eventually provide enough financially that I could stay home with our children...when we have them (since daycare costs are off the map, at least in our area). Really, having Dave get credentialed to teach makes perfect sense.

However, as he got into his studies, it became pretty clear that teaching math is not what he really wants to do. For one thing, he likes ideas. He'd much rather discuss those with students than how to do math problems. But also, his studying was keeping him from pursuing his dreams. While he doesn't want to work in the usual niche for his degree, he has come up with a way to use what he's learned to teach and interact with others, and not have to take the path traditional for someone with his education. To do this, though, involves lots of networking and even more time and energy for things to get off the ground. He has several openings for his ideas, but we haven't felt like we've had the leeway to pursue them, as we have felt like paying off our school debt is a major priority.

Let me add that one of my dreams is for this business to take off for Dave. It would allow him to do many of the things that I find most attractive in him.

So, this weekend, we decided to give up pursuing the "sure thing" career for him so that he can use his time to develop the speaking/seminars/consulting business he's always wanted.

In the end, the decision hinged on what we want to be able to say at the end of our lives. When I'm dying I don't think I'll care much about the size of my house (or even if I owned one), the make and model of my car, or even how nicely I was able to dress my children. I'll care a lot more about who I am and who Dave is, who we helped each other become and how we got there. I'll care about what we tried just because we loved it and how many times we were able to bankrupt ourselves traveling (that's the only thing I'd ever totally and completely bankrupt myself for, but that's another post). I'll care about whether or not we took the risks our dreams required, whether we were willing to put it all on the line for something we believed in. When I looked at it that way, I couldn't bear to walk the safe road just for the sake of safety any longer.

Lest you think I'm just a sentimental idealist, we also realized (how practical of us!) that the relative value of the financial security we were pursuing wasn't very high. Even if we paid off all of our debt more rapidly than we could possibly imagine, we wouldn't be satisfied. We would be more secure, but not happy. The money that we could then accumulate (when we were not longer using it to pay off debt) could not buy us our dreams, nor the years spent not pursuing them. For us, that price was simply not worth paying.

The truth is that we're not quite throwing it all on the line here. We didn't just throw ourselves on the mercy of anyone who will help. We have a plan, and that plan includes (and even focuses on) our finances. With my job and his jobs, we will be fine financially. We may not pay off our debt early, but we'll make our monthly payments on time. We may not buy a home or have a kid for a few more years, but I'm not convinced I'm ready for that anyway. We will probably be living on a tighter budget than most of our friends, but that's a sacrifice we're willing to make. We're willing to be less successful financially to be more successful as whole human beings.

Is all of this scary? Sure. In fact, even yesterday and today I found myself thinking, "Did we really do that? What were we thinking? Can we take it back?" But I won't take it back. Pursuing dreams is something I believe in, even when it means taking a hit or entering uncertainty financially.

For you, what trumps financial success?

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Guest's picture

Your points about delaying the easy life for the dream are very valuable.

So, please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm writing from the perspective of someone who spent years supporting a man who didn't know what he wanted, career-wise. Assembled degrees, lots of talent, endless creativity... and no follow-through.

I put on hold all of my desires and career goals in order to offer my time and money to my boyfriend, who couldn't settle on a direction or a definite job path. Consulting, design, engineering, artistic pursuits... we went through them all. And I finally realized that what he wanted was to be a perpetual student while I paid the bills. So I ended it, and now I'm belated pursuing MY dreams.

I guess this isn't so much a warning to you, Sarah, as to other people who might be looking at something similar. Following your dreams is great, and working hand-in-hand with a partner to accomplish those dreams is even better. One just needs to be sure that accomplishment is really in the future, especially if one person is sacrificing for the sake of the other.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

Thanks for pointing that out, guest-of-mine. 

What I didn't mention in the article (though thought of when I was writing it but couldn't find a good place for it, since it felt like a post in itself) is that Dave and I are working on putting a time-limit on all of this.  We don't have one yet (we're working on finding out what is realistic), but we're thinking we'd like to see a certain amount of growth in a year, and more in two, etc.  We will definitely have goal-focused dreams!

Guest's picture

I read the above comment and agree to a point. Which brings me back to one of my absolute FAVORITE sayings. "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I had seen it more than once, but it hit home for me when I was standing in my millionaire boss' office being paid pennies. I say, follow your heart and make it work. You have a stable head on your shoulders and with a little hard work and dedication it will all work out. What is the worst that can happen? I wouldn't call it a delay, I would call it starting a powerful life. Remember everything is possible!

Guest's picture

Not to be a wet blanket but...It could also be that you do alot of hardwork and had alot of dedication and you still may fail. And I think you have to be ok with that. I dont think life will always give you what you want know matter how bad you want it. At least in death you will have a clear conscience knowing that you tryed. All things are not necessarily possible and I think you learn that as you get older. But positive thinking is still a good thing.

Guest's picture

Luckily for me, we can afford to live on my husbands salary. (My mom always said it is just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as I poor man, well I didn't marry rich, but I did marry smart and highly employable.)

Anyway, after a lot of talk, and several major pushes from him to convince me that we can afford the risk, I quit my job in accounting, and went after my dream.

On Saturday, I opened my online yarn store. I actually teamed up with my mother (she hasn't quit her day job -- yet) and we pooled all of our "fun" money (books, dinners out, entertainment, etc) for a few months and managed to get enough capital to start our business.

Reach for the moon, even if you fail, you still land among the stars.

Guest's picture

right out of college, i took a "safe" job, doing it support for a company. i hated it, it was not what i wanted to be doing, it had no potential for growth, and it was not getting me any closer to what i wanted to do.

one day i was invited by a musical group i was friends with to go on tour with them, to do concert photography. this had always been a passion of mine, and i ended up leaving my day job and going on tour all across the united states for a month. when i returned, i started doing freelance photography and design work.

i miss the steady paycheck when i'm paying bills, but other than that i wouldn't have it any other way.

Guest's picture

Good on you - you know what you want and that is half the battle.

Guest's picture
Peter B

Thanks for the article, made me smile all the way. I've had heated arguments in the past with people who doubt following your dreams in the face of a 'safe' career with big house/car/etc.

Follow your dreams and you'll never know where you'll end up. :)

Guest's picture

Hi, I discovered your post through Lifehacker. Thanks for the wakeup call. I don't have to sidetrack my dreams just because they are not 'safe' or 'stable'. Better to try and fail then never to try at all. Thanks for reminding me!

Guest's picture

Did you make the jump yet? I bet you didnt. Stop wasting your time and feed your dream with a dose of reality

Guest's picture
Guy T.

If it's such a good idea, the dream should pay off, and sooner than later. The "dream" should be flexible so it can adapt to actual demand for the type of business you're in (making it less dream-like and more real-like) yet keeping the hype of it, for others to see.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I'm glad you've come.  I'm enjoying reading this discussion.

There's definitely a balance to be achieved here--a dream has to be viable in the "real world".  However, it still seems to me that the only way to know whether or not it's viable is to try it.  Sure, there are things you can do to make it more viable--have a good business plan, set tangible goals, etc.  But then you have to jump.  You have to try it out.  If this doesn't work out for us, Dave will take a "real job" and we'll go back to the drawing board.  But we'll try again.  And again.  And again, if we have to, until it works.  Why?  Because it's a dream, and there's something about a dream that gives you the motivation to keep pursuing it. 

Guest's picture
Guy T.

One thing leads to another. Here's a link to a how-to guide on building a startup I found today:

Guest's picture

I agree with you 100%. Life is about learning and pushing boundaries. If we stop learning, we're wasting our minds. If we stop exploring, we're wasting time. If we get too comfortable, we might as well be dead. Continue on pursuing something. In time you'll be on the right track. If you haven't felt lost in your life at some point in time, then you're not pushing your capabilities hard enough. The world never limits you. Only society makes those limits. I had a fortune cookie this weekend and it said "If you think you can do it, you're right. If you don't think can do it, you're right." At first I thought it was stupid but it took me a minute to figure the true meaning behind that. Now conquer away! You both deserve the best. :)

Guest's picture

Greetings from New Zealand

The thing we struggle with in deciding to 'go for it' is what is 'it'.

My wife and I have various interests, and don't doubt our abilities, but lack the missing ingredient that makes one strive relentlessly for a particular goal - a passion for the result.

Unless one has a passion, setting all the goals in the world won't help you get anywhere - there has to be a 'why' and that is our stumbling block at the moment.

Guest's picture

I happened about your post through Get Rich Slowly and was especially moved by the paragraph that started "In the end..." In fact I wrote it down in my quote book, because I think it is beautiful and very well stated. Thank you for your great insight. I was looking through my quote book when I wrote yours down and found this one, which I think is appropriate:

"If your depth are so moved that you cannot swerve either to the right or to the left, but dead-center towards a goal which continually calls you forward, go for it."

Guest's picture

Great post ! flipped through from lifehacker all the way in from New Zealand! - yep we get internet down here too.

I agree with the other kiwi posted above -- how about a follow up article on how to identify 'the dream' ... I know heaps of people have an itch to become more -- but they just don't know what...

Guest's picture

I really enjoyed the above comments. I can't tell you how many sleepless nights i have had contemplating all of the various things that have been discussed. I can't remember the book that this short story comes from, but i think about it a few times a day: A reporter went to the hospital to do an interview with a man who was on his death bed. The man had been very successful in his life both financially and personally. As the interview came to a close the man asked the reporter to lay next to him on the bed and look up at the ceiling. On the ceiling was a picture board of many of the dreams and plans the man was still working on. The man died a few days later. His name was Walt Disney. Wheather or not the dreams ever come to fruition in physical form is irrelevant in many ways. The Dream, and the pursuit of the dream is what makes life great!

Guest's picture

The truth is, if you're doing something you love, you soon get very good at it. If you're doing something you dislike or feel lukewarm about, your best efforts are--at the max--lukewarm.

The world's a big place, and consequently just about everything is marketable to someone, somewhere. People recognize quality, and when employers, clients, or customers see that you are providing a top-of-the-line service or product, they're willing to pay for it. You may take a little longer to earn a great living doing what you love than to pay off the student loans and put bread on the table by teaching, but eventually you'll find you'll earn more and be happier human beings when you follow your bliss.

BTW, I taught in a university for 10 years before returning to a managing editor's job (whose starting pay was 10 grand more than I earned at the assoc. professor pay level). If you're good at it--and apparently I was, because students turned in rave reviews and I never received an annual dean's evaluation below the highest numerical ranking--you work like an animal, put in 12- to 18-hour days seven days a week, work unpaid over the summer, apply management and organizational skills that would put you in upper-midlevel corporate management, and you earn about what the best-paid members of the custodial staff earn. Now I do what I like to do (not that I didn't "like" teaching--I just didn't care for the working conditions & pay). I rarely work more than 9 or 10 hours a day, never work on weekends, and presently earn $20,000 more than I made while teaching.

Do what you want to do, not what you think you "have" to do!

Guest's picture

Thank you, so much for this great comment. It puts it "all into words". Im in Energy engineering right now, but i LOVE art. I only did it b/c im tired of our "so called green revolution" that isnt happening! and b/c my dad thinks its best for me.

I would love to just make oil paintings/drawings and push the boundaries of art for the rest of my life, I can still hold my current job and go to art school in the city. You're right, I know i can make much better use of my efforts in art than something that involves tons of math/physics (something I could care less about).

Guest's picture

Thank you for the inspiration. I am beginning to realize how important it is to follow your dreams. I cannot stay comfortable just getting by saving money and holding back on my passions because of complacency. I have started planning things out myself, (The "six-to-twelve month plan")

If I am fortunate to have kids one day, I wouldn't want to tell them, that you can be anything or pursue anything that you want in life and not have me as an example of that.

There was so many things distracting me from pursuing my dreams, like fear.

Thank you all

Guest's picture
Mac Royale

The optimal situation is to work in something you're passionate about AND make a healthy profit. Why compromise on one or the other? One half of the equation will get old after a while.

When you're passionate, then you have a chance to become a niche leader because intrinsic motivation will propel you to create the best products/ services. Once you're the niche leader, the monetary rewards should naturally follow.

This is not my original idea. Bloggers such as Steve Pavlina, Yaro Starak, and Seth Godin have presented similar viewpoints. If this interests you, read up on those guys.

Guest's picture

Dare to Dream

Pursing your dream because you believe and feel it must be pursued is honouring a deep truth that lies within you. It is realising your sacred quest, it is your greatest destiny. It goes way beyond the external accumulations of life to the very Source of creation.

So many peoples dreams have been burried, postponed until its too late or worst case killed altogether because we are affected by what “other people” think - they don’t believe in us or our dreams, they don’t think we’re good enough. Of course the truth is that fear is preventing them from pursuing their own dreams. They have become conditioned to think that “life is a struggle with short lived experiences of joy every now and again”

So whats the answer? The answer is to … Keep Going! Keep pursuing your dream. Keep moving forward. You see as you pursue your dreams and your own truth you are honouring yourself. In honouring yourself you will know true Love, Peace, Joy, Fulfillment and Happiness. In being YourSelf you may then inspire others who were afraid and yet again you may not. We have all been given free will. Of course it is one thing not to follow your dream but it surely must be a far greater crime to try and stop someone else pursuing theirs!

This piece of music in its melody and intention says it all for me. Listen, watch and In-Joy.

May Your Most Fulfilling Dreams come true …

Seán M

Guest's picture
Tal from israel


I've been ridding the posts here, and thought it's time for me to pursue my own dream. but (and there is always a but),
I am 28 years old. I have been very miserable in the last few years because I have studied something that wasn't what I really wanted. at the school I was studying at, there were others studying cinema. some actually made a few good films and are working today in our small industry. that was my dream all along, and I wasn't really going for it. when it was time to change my mind and join them, I didn't and thought it was a dream worth burring for some reason..
today, I don't work in what I have learned to do and feel miserable and frustrated of the outcome of my life. I am dead broke, living at my parents house, and studying something so completely not my niche, that I don't even want to wake up in the morning to do it.
needless to say that pursuing my dream in cinema is very hard, and it takes years to make it as a director in Israel. I feel so depressed that I can't even go sleep anymore (literally..)
I don't really know what to do. everything I want will take me years now, and I that life is such a waste. even when I think about going back to film school I feel bad with a whole in my heart that is so hard to fill.
I went to career counseling and to therapy, but all they said is that I mustn't go with art anymore, as I will always be poor, which would lead me to more depression and more anxiety attacks.
what I don't say is that the situation of today was also caused by a recant relationship I had with someone who didn't want to be with me because I am not educated/ working in my profession.
I miss life. the smell of a fresh flower, the warmth of the trees, the wind in my face, the cool water of the sea. I became numb to all of those.
I picked up smoking and it's really doing me bad.
is following my dream the cure? is it? I will do it if I only new I would be cured and normal again.


Guest's picture

hey tal email me- i feel the same exactly and my situation seems exactlythe same

Guest's picture

hey tal email me- i feel the same exactly and my situation seems exactlythe same

Guest's picture

Hi Tal! I believe the cure is to always follow your dreams. One thing Ive realized is that we will never stop being who we are simply because we are trying to be something else. The truth is even if you were not broke that wouldnt make you any more satisfied than you are now. Your desires will always be your desires. Ignoring them will never silence them. I know a lady who is a milionaire but is miserable because she hasnt discovered what she is passionate about. I think its a gift to know what you are passionate about. I know a lot people who dont. Pursuing your passion, that should be the easy part. Okay, so its not so easy, but its rewards make the pursuit worth it.

I say this with ease not because Im anywhere near accomplishing my goals. I discovered what I wanted to do half way through pursuing a degree in something else. I have almost completed my degree and I am very good at it but I realized that regardless of how well I do Im not satisfied because thats not where my heart is. Ive now started pursuing my real passion by taking part time jobs in retail, which is the industry I really want to be in. My degree however is not a waste and neither is anything you have studied. I think people have been giving you very bad advice. There are ways to use the education you have while pursuing your passion.

I know a particular lady who started pursuing what she really wanted to do at 40. Now she is over sixty, happy, looking younger than she did at forty and having the time of her life. Don't give up on your life lady. You are only 28. You can be anything you want to be. Don't allow people to put limitations on what you are capable of.


Guest's picture

Part of understanding what life is all about, is understanding happiness, as well as disappointment.  I am 52 years old and believe that even though you may not always know for sure if you are on the right path or not, the path you are on at the time can teach you valuable lessons you may not even know that you need.  I would stop feeling guilty for what you feel you have not accomplished and make the decision to start looking forward to what you can accomplish, even if that means you may make mistakes along the way. 

Believe it or not, 28 is not old or too late to start another dream. Even if you may not have a clear vision of what you really want to do, you apparently know what it is that will not satisfy you.  Take a leap of faith and just see where life may lead you.  And realize that you may find yourself changing directions or navigating your course many times, before you true dream or desires become a reality. 

Guest's picture

Hey Tal, same here!

27 yrs.. studying a full time degree ( 4 study +2.5yrs job break+ 3 yrs study Engineering) with great career prospects with a well paying part time stable financial job.I have been following my brain instead of following my heart (I want to pursue Art )for the past 6-8 years - and it's done only one thing - it's killing me-everyday!

- from US/Indian

Guest's picture

:( your post made me tear up a little because it really touched me. listen you follow ur dreams, your need to stop thinking life is a waist and do something about it. the greats regret in life is waking up one day and saying "**** i could of done that, but i didnt!"
your still young u got so much time ahead of you. do the things u loved to do the most when u were in ur "happy days"
dont give up on life because once u give up everything is down hill from there.
belive in urself and u will have the power to achieve all ur hearts desires.
dont let fear strike you from playing the game!
good luck and hope u will feel better.

Sandy k.

Guest's picture

your post gives me a lot of hope! thank you. your approach is also very positive. life is quite unpredictable but still one can follow some general direction towards what we want to do. it is important to start. thanks again.

Guest's picture

Greetings from California. I love this post.

I am going through this huge dilemma right now. I quit my job about 2 months ago. It was in the technology field. I like technology but I felt that I needed to be doing something more creative in possibly fine art or writing. I took a long vacation to visit family and now I am back.

During the vacation I was bombarded with comments from my family on how I made a bad decision by quiting my job and that I should get married, have a family, get a normal paying job and make money, and live like how normal people do. But for some reason I just don't relate to that right now.

I am on the verge of deciding that I will stick to my original plan and do what I set out to do. I am planning to move back to my college town and be an artist and writer for atleast 6 months or so. If I feel that I am any good at it, then I will continue doing it. Otherwise it is back to the corporate world of computers for me.

Thank you so much for the post. I relate with every single comment here.

Guest's picture


just make sure that your work as an artist isn't compromised by setting a timeline. There's something fundamental there that you need to separate from if you are going to wholeheartedly pursue your dream.

Guest's picture

Like many of the people here, I'm faced with a choice between chasing my dreams and choosing the safe option. With all the uncertainty in the world today I don't know if I can afford to choose the former considering I'm relying on my parents to finance my education.

Guest's picture

I went to law school and I was a teacher before that because these were safe choices. I delayed for years my true dream because it was risky.... my husband supports me in quitting my job as an attorney and pursuing my dream and yet I am fearful. This article comforted me. Thank you and good luck to you (well its been a year since this was written so hope it worked out)

Guest's picture

When I graduated from high school. I wanted some time off. I just wanted to get away from it all. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I was scared to take that next step forward in life. So I packed my bags and headed to Arizona. I wanted to started over and get to know myself. During the months I was in Arizona. I held serval...I MEAN SERVAL jobs. The thing I noticed more is that I do not want to end up like the 40 year old people working here for crappy pay.
This is when acting came into mind. I remeber everytime I went to acting class I always stood out. Just being on the stage and the feeling I get everytime was like ecsctasy.
The teacher always praised me on my talent. He said I was just a natural born talent that comes every serval years. He told me I should really consider this as my career. But this is where the major problem happens. Money....I couldn't keep up with my rent. I couln't keep up with my car payments. The bills just kept on coming. Then I couldn't even pay for my acting classes. And in the end I had to move back to my parents in N.H
The thing is I would do anything to follow my dreams. But the way the ecomony is. Moving to L.A to follow my dreams just seems impossbile.
Evntually with the money I earn from acting. I want to help people who are in dire need of fincial need. I want to be someone they can ask for in help.

Guest's picture

If everyone followed their dreams, the world as we know it would collapse. No one grows up dreaming of becoming a factory serf, or a mine worker, or a maid, but these are the very people who run our industries and keep society safely moored in modernity (ie. our clothes, cars, houses, etc). We respect Joe American because he is a hard worker and family man, not an idealistic dream chaser.

People of previous generations were conditioned to work for their families and they found satisfaction in monetary value, job fulfillment notwithstanding. The poor only hope for a better life; the war-torn just want to live and make a stable living for their families.

Only we, of a certain middle-class privilege, tell ourselves that our lives mean something, that our desires should be put ahead of our familial responsibilities. Why not make all the money we can, and spend our weekends doing what we like? Is there any wrong in that?

I worked in theatre for five years before accepting the fact that I would never make enough money to raise my family and keep them living at a comfortable standard - the same level of comfort i was brought up with, because i cannot deny them that privilege. I followed my dream, enjoyed my stint, but reality bit back. You either choose your career or your family.

But who knows. Here's to the ones who managed to live their dreams and make a profit out of it. Cheers.

Guest's picture

I'm 26 and although I feel that I'm still young enough to pursue my dream, I'm old enough to know that I need to be serious about my future. I agree with Phin that not everyone will achieve their dreams but at the same time I think it is important to at least try otherwise you'll always wonder "what if".

"The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed." - Lloyd Jones

Guest's picture

I "stumbled" across this post and it's been a breath of fresh air reading it, as well as the many follow up comments from people who realize the value of following their own dreams. I have a stable lifestyle right now... a nice apartment, a nice job with a lot of potential, and things are seemingly going well on the outside, but deep down I know that each day a little piece of my "soul" is dying, because this isn't what I want if I'm being truly honest with myself. Most of my friends (and family) stopped "following their dreams" a long, long time ago. It's claustrophobic in a way to be around people who no longer dare to dream. All I know is that when I'm dying someday, I don't want to look back on my life and regret what I didn't do... but I'm too nervous or afraid to make the jump. It's as if subconsciously I feel I don't "deserve" that life, even though I know I do and how badly I want it. I have something hanging on my door that I refer to as a "Death Clock". Forgive the morbid name, but I calculated the "average life expectancy" for a male, multiplied the years by the number of days, and I have that hanging there, as a stark honest reminder that my time is running out. It doesn't hang over my head 24 hours a day, but it lights that fire under me to remind me to stop paying attention to the empty people around me and pursue my dreams and how I truly want to live. Thank you to all of you for sharing yours.

Guest's picture

I have been reading your articles for about two years now, and I've enjoyed pretty much all of them, but this one hit so close to home...I've had all these great ideas for starting my own online business for at least a year, but I'm not an IT person, and the web is not much a part of any job I can use my degree for. So, I figured it was a pipe dream...until I got laid off last Jan. Now, I'm under alot of pressure from friends and family to get a job, any job (like I haven't been hunting for a job in my industry all along!) But I feel like this is my one chance to 'make a go' at the business and life I want for myself, and that I'd be crazy to let it pass by without trying. The website isn't up yet, but I am making progress, albeit very slowly since I am having to learn IT things on my own...I am surviving financially for now, but there is a definite end date where I need to be successful or give it up. Anyway, thanks so much for this post. It meant alot to me to know that I am not the only one struggling with this.

Guest's picture
Im Still Here

Such an inspiring article! I am so moved that I wish to tell my own little story...

3 years ago, the scenario was as such: I stood before my mother who yelled at me when she found out numerous printouts of graphic designing courses and design colleges. She thought I was being impractical and naive for choosing a 'useless' career option.

Maybe the fact that my father owned a small advertising design company fueled my mother disapproval as my father was bringing in a humble but sufficient amount of cash from his business. I was always proud of my dad because he pursued his lifelong dream of advertising. When he came home from work he would be tired and fatigued, but he always had a sense of accomplishment which glowed from his face every night. True, he wasn't earning multiple figured salary amounts...but he always managed to keep my younger brother and I happy. He often bought items such as expensive phones or invested in pricey cars just because he 'liked the colours on them'. Earlier on, I thought thought this was slightly immature on his side, since he had a family to support too. But then it hit me...he often pampered me as a child too and gave me things just to see me smile. When I was young, I loved to paint and do origami, but my mother often broke my paintbrushes and tore my paper when she caught me. Dad would buy me more supplies and sat down for hours to watch me paint. He told me once, 'Live your dreams, no matter how big or small they are. Because when you are on your deathbed, the biggest regret will not be about how much money you've made, but that you never even tried that something you dreamed about because of someone or something'

These thoughts flooded my mind when I looked at my mother and those printouts. I finally took those printouts and told her that I may not make that 5 figure salary, I may not have a big house but I will be happy and be proud of my designated career option before I go to bed every night.

Today, I'm in my second year of my design degree. My professors have proudly showcased my work to others students to inspire them. AND I go to bed every night with a tired but happy smile on my face...

Guest's picture

Dear Sarah.

Wow. I loved what you wrote! Listen I have been a SINGLE mom for 22 years, NO Child Support, and NO name it, we had all the challenges.

BUT I followed my dream to be a single mom and raise my daughter on purpose. I started one of America's first home based businesses about 15 years ago. I put my daughter through college somehow, still without child support.

It was hard, but we are blessed.

My duagher is following her dreams. I am following my dreams.

I have written a Book Series entitled "Dreams to Reality: Author Your Dreams ACTION PLAN" and it just came out on Amazon and other major booksellers.

It is a 3 part series. The first part is the text book, the second part is the workbook, and the third part is the most exciting part...You, Your Published Dream Plan Book. I have an Author Your Dreams, Author Your Career, and Author Your Book workbooks.

I am so excited about what you and your husband are doing, I would like to give you a free copy of the book. I have the PDF version I can send you in the e-mail. Please just write me at info at author your dreams, and let me know that youw would like to accept my offer; and I will get it right out in the email to you!

I think it will help you and support you in what you are doing.

Deborah S. Nelson, Author
Dreams to Reality Series

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i know this reply is 3 years after you wrote this article, but I can say it inspires someone like me, in a little town, dwelling on mistakes and regrets, to push forward and not to take the easier road. Simple reading this, has made my life that much easier today, and reinstated in my over-analytical/chaotic mind of mine, what I am meant to do.

Guest's picture

This was a great read. A lot of us will have to face whether to do what's practical or do what we deep down, truly want to do. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do at all, whether it's practical or not. I've also been following this blogger that talks about the struggles of balancing her dream job with her family life/financial situation I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

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Very thoughtful and inspiring. I feel like I compromised my dreams and passions, first because of fear and insecurity, and then to support my family. Now at 50+, I'm pushing forward in the belief that it's not too late to reinvent myself.

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The only thing that matters at the end of the day is who you love, and who loves you.

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Not to follow your dreams is to compromise. Any time you justify and rationalize away what your heart shows you is your unique path to joy you are short circuiting your own happiness and fulfillment.

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I am currently at a crossroads in my life where I am evaluating what I need to do in order to pursue my dreams and this was a very encouraging article.

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And here I am 4 years later after you wrote this in the same boat. Scary, running out of money and I just stopped working at a job I did well, because I DIDN'T feel the passion.

"When I looked at it that way, I couldn't bear to walk the safe road just for the sake of safety any longer."

EXACTLY - We get to live this lifetime once. I have been writing about this same thing. Maybe someone will find more words of inspiration there. Thanks for writing this article.

Guest's picture

so time has come and gone, where have your decissions taken you? and all the comments left on this post, where are the people that took the time to write back?

We can all type a possitive or a negative message, at the end, time goes by and if all we can do is type our thoughts and live others dreams than time well wasted.
For me, I have left a stable, sought after high paying job in the computer industry to pursue my dream of rebuilding homes, I find the ugliest, most beaten home in a neighborhood and bring up to life, making it some body elses dream or start of a dream come true.
I have taken a big chance, and if it wasnt for the support of my wife I would not be able to live my dream. With every success story, nobody cares to take the time and look at the sacrifice that went behing that success. What is success? is success a goal that others find unatainable? is success a struck of luck? if you ask me, I would say, success is reaching the goal you set for your self!! long time ago, you dont remember this, but you set a goal and that was to take one step without falling, and look how far you have walked up to today..................
your goals are all attainable just dont loose site of the goal, one step at a time, you will fall, but how did you manage to take that second step, long time ago???

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I think in the long run, pursuing dreams instead of a 'career' will yield more in the financial department anyway. You might spin your financial wheels for a little bit, but passion for what you are doing will make your dreams something other people will end up paying you loads and loads of cash for. Good luck to you, but don't worry, you won't need it!