Making the Leap – The Consequences of Following a Dream
In the last few months more than once people have come up to me and told me they want to quit their job and follow a dream. My journey and my story has become a reference point for many and yet when people seek council, I am cautious to say yes. In 2012, when I quit a nice comfortable job as head of admissions, head of college placement as well as a host of other jobs at the private boarding school in Vermont, it was a huge leap but not un-calculated.
When that fateful move was made in 2012, the email sent, I already had a second source of income, already had a little savings to fall back on, and already had a plan for the next move. While the future was open, scary, and unknown – my day-to-day life could remain somewhat comfortable. Now over two years from that fateful decision I have learned a lot about the consequences of following your dream. Some of it is good but some of it no one could have ever told me. While I would never change the choices I have made, I now see the consequences of following a dream.
One of the first things to go when you set out on an entrepreneurial venture. The excitement of your own venture or of following a passion will wake you up in the middle of the night as ideas fly into your head. Morning and evening often blend into one and time is no longer a factor when defining a work day.
For a while your social life will cease to exist, all your waking hours will be spent on your project or passion. All the extra money you had will go into the project so nights out with friends will turn into the next investment on your dream. You won’t care that you were once life of the party and now spend more time in front of the computer. The ugly side is if you do go out people will constantly ask you how your business is, and it will most likely grow A LOT slower than you want it to. Answering the question will always be a, it’s good, masking what is really happening. Eventually, getting sick of those questions you rather stay in than deal with them.
No matter how much money you think you have, it’s never enough. The first couple of years are hard, money drains, debt piles up and you find yourself waking in the middle of the night worrying if you will have enough to get by the next month. Luxuries in life cease to exist. You find yourself doing a lot of work for free, you question your decisions as you look at bank accounts initially. Endless nights of laying in bed, questioning, worrying, and wondering. Always waiting for the next step to happen or the big break.
Work Hours and Work Days
As one post once quoted, “you are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” Every single person who ever created their own company will agree with this statement. Hopefully you are either single or have a VERY understanding partner as most of your life will be consumed with this new project, the work day, work hours is completely blurred. When writing my first book, I often wrote from 3am – 6am then went back to sleep finding those the quiet hours. Saturday’s and Sunday’s mean nothing anymore and Holidays you might be sneaking away to get, just a little work in. The work day is never done.
So why do all of this? We do it for the freedom, yes we work more hours than most. We make less money than someone at a fast food restaurant. We might live in a constant state of stress and worry about what is next. But the key is everything that comes down on us, we created. Our stress is our own and it’s self-induced. A satisfaction is felt when an article, a project, a new venue happens and people respond well to it. And if you play your cards right it will start to come together, it might take a few years, and it will be rough but if the passion is there and the hard work, eventually you might start to have it come around.
It’s only just over two years into my experiment that is creating my own destiny. It’s in my genes and in my family history to go out and create something. There is a lot of pressure, mostly internal to succeed, it is what drives me forward each day. Everyday is hard, but I made that choice for myself and after a couple years and many times wondering if I should just go back, which I have almost done more than once, it is starting to pay off.
All the work done for free initially is dropping off and am finally able to pay down debts, know where my next paycheck is coming from, and the next step now is to start to get it all back into balance with all the things outside of work. I wholeheartedly think people should follow their dreams but know that there are consequences and if you are willing to live through them and take the risk of failure it can be a beautiful thing. Also it’s great to be able to work in the same clothing I woke up in each day.