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This post was originally written by me back in 2010 and posted on Rootein's blog. Sadly, the blog had to be brought down, thanks to some ambitious Russian hackers and poor house keeping on my part!
I had then recently quit my job to create Rootein along with @duak. I remember I was scared, unsure of the future. I hated what I was doing then and quitting the job just felt right at the time. Looking back, was it the right decision? Absolutely. In fact, I regard that as the single best decision I've ever made.
We were just about getting ready to warm up for the practice game over the weekend when I had an interesting conversation with one of the team mates I actually didn't know quite well.
"So what do you do?" he asked. "Well, we work for ourselves, we run a software company", I replied. "Oh really! that's awesome! I work for xyz company, but you know I always wanted to get into animation design and work for myself. It was my dream. I got stuck in the wrong industry"
"You ain't dead yet, are you?" I thought, trying hard not say that aloud. He continued, "You know, I've been wanting to do this for 10 years now, but once you have a family, it's very tough to do anything else"
I couldn't resist anymore, so I said "That's great. If you really want to do that, may be you should take up some animation classes, or do some self learning at your own pace. That would be a good start." Pat came the reply "Nahh it's very difficult, with family, full time job, no time. I would love to, but I can't."
Reluctantly, I suggested - "Then may be you should consider training full time for a few weeks/months and perhaps dive in full-time?" He looked at me like I had just asked him to cut off his right hand - "Are you crazy? Where will the paycheck come from?"
Realizing this conversation was heading towards an argument with someone I didn't know very well at the first place, I chose to just smile and leave it at that. But it made me think. What is it with people refusing to take some risks to follow their dreams. Are their dreams not worth it? If not, why do we sulk about them later? Don't we owe it to ourselves to at least give our dreams a fair shot?
Now, I understand, diving in full time isn't always an option for everybody, but that shouldn't deter us from at least starting to move in the right direction. Take baby steps I say if you can't afford drastic measures, but for God's sake don't kill your dreams.
We all had some crazy ideas and dreams when we were kids. When people asked - "What do you want to do when you grow up?" you didn't say "I want to play safe and be an executive for a fortune 100 company" or "I want to work for the government for the job security"? You wanted to do something that excited you, that you were passionate about - "Armed forces, scientist, sports, music, dance, miss world" etc. You didn't even think if that would get you enough money. You just wanted to do it.
So why is it that as we grow up we lose all the passion, the energy, the will, and the strength to keep our dreams alive. Why does money dictate our passion or in most cases, kill it? Why do we let "safety of a paycheck" screw our dreams? Why do we stop thinking about what we love?
We are so seduced by the thought of a guaranteed paycheck every month that we completely ignore the fact that it's actually never too late to pursue our dreams. The reason, as I can understand is probably "fear of failure". We fear we might fail and that fear leads us to cook up stories about why we can't have what we want. Alibis like "I don't have time. I have family. I'll do it when I have more money etc." Stories that convince us that it's ok not to follow up on our dreams, that it's ok not to do what we love, that it's ok to just keep doing the everyday drill.
Like Tony Robbins put it - "The only thing that's keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself about why you can't have it."
What are we waiting for? A perfect day when all stars would line up in just the right direction and you would be guaranteed success? It never works that way. That moment of glory never arrives. All circumstances will almost never be in your favor. There will always be something that would be challenging. You just have to bite the bullet and take the plunge. When we set out to create Rootein, we didn't wait for everything to be just perfect, much as we would have liked. We just dived in. We started developing rootein while we were working full-time. We loved what we were doing and we did it while keeping our day time jobs. It wasn't easy, but it was fun because we were chasing our dream of working for ourselves, building software that we were passionate about.
May be it's just us. May be we are weird. May be we are foolish, but we would rather be foolish and strive to live our dream than come up with some alibis. True success is not money driven, it's driven by love and passion. You've got to love what you are doing and you've got to be passionate about it.
Failing is not scary. What's scary is that you are 60 and reflecting back on your life "May be I should've given my dreams a chance, may be I would've succeeded, may be I would've lived my dream" But now it's too late. You might have missed the boat.
Don't be scared to follow your dreams. That's the worst thing you can do to yourself.
"So many times, it happens too fast
You change your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive"
Update: As it turned out, quitting my job was one of the biggest turning points in my life. It's rightly said that we learn more from our failures than our successes, and boy, was driving Rootein a humbling yet insightful experience.
So, am I following my dream? I have since moved on to be a Developer Evangelist at Mashery. I absolutely love what I do. I love the people I work with. I don't hate Mondays. I don't wait for Fridays to happen. I meet and work with some incredibly bright and passionate people everyday. If that's not a dream, I don't know what is.