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Don’t Quit Your Job To Chase Your Dreams… Until You’ve Read This

“I’m quitting my job to chase my dreams!”

When I hear someone say those words I experience two feelings simultaneously.

1. Excitement. You can’t help but admire someone with that kind of passion. Exciting things often happen when people step out of their comfort zone and make space to go for their dreams!

2. Fear. What if their dreams are not realistic? How will they pay their bills? What impact might that decision have upon their family?

I never know what to say (and doubt there is any right thing as each situation is so different) but as someone who has quit jobs to chase dreams I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts.

Warning: my thoughts don’t all mount a single argument to either quit your job or stay in it. They’re some things to ponder when you’re making the decision.

1. Chase Your Dreams

First and foremost – chase your dream.

So many people stop chasing dreams. They end up looking back on missed opportunities with a sense of regret.

If you have a dream that won’t go away I think you owe it to yourself – and the world around you – to pursue it.

2. Be Responsible

Don’t chase your dreams in a way that leaves a trail of ruin behind you.

You owe it to yourself to chase your dream – but not at the expense of those around you.

Too many times have I seen men and women chase dreams in ways that put their family in the way of harm. I can recount a number of new bloggers who quit their jobs to become full time bloggers only to find that their family no longer had an income stream or health care. I’ve seen marriages break down and tragedy strike as a result of chasing dreams without a safety net or backup plan.

I know ‘be responsible‘ doesn’t sound as sexy as ‘chase your dreams‘ – but it’s important.

I think a lot of it comes back to your life stage and situation. When I started blogging, I was engaged to be married and we had no kids. I was still conservative with my decision-making and always had a part time job until I was sure blogging would pay our bills. If I were starting out again today, as a husband and father of 3 kids, I’d certainly take things even slower than I did.

I personally set up the move between employment and chasing my dreams as a something of a transition.

I started out studying part-time and working one main job and a number of part time jobs. As my dream of becoming a full-time blogger became more of a reality (i.e. as I began to earn more from my blogging) I was able to give up some of the part-time work.

This transition took over a year to complete and even then, at one point I got a part time job when my blogging income dipped for a time. I didn’t want to put my family in harm’s way so I always had a backup plan.

3. Take a Run Up…

Long Jump

My part-time work and study allowed me to transition in this way. I understand that this won’t always be possible for others. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job immediately in order to follow your dreams.

There will almost always be a way to get your dream started – even while you work a job. Think about how you can get momentum up and to position yourself to make that eventual leap.

When I was in high school I used to compete as a long jumper in athletics. I wasn’t particularly good at it but had a great coach who showed me the basics. Interestingly, a lot of the work he did with me was focused not upon my jumping technique but my running and timing.

He told me that the key to a good jump was getting good momentum going in the run up, and then timing the jump and positioning to perfection.

Yes ‘jumping’ was something I needed to get right but without a good run up the eventual leap (and landing) was never going to be successful.

What can you do – in your current situation – to create momentum and to position yourself well for that time when you might actually make the leap into giving up employment to chase your dreams?

Answering this question might result in any number of things. It could lead you to part-time study. It could lead you to more intentional networking. It could lead you to working in the evenings on your project. It might lead you to creating a business plan. There are many small and achievable things that you can do today – even while working a job – that will put you in a better position to chase your dreams.

4. You May Never Need to Leave Your Job

I can think of many people who actively pursue their dreams while also working full-time and part-time in ‘real jobs’.

  • I know a full time accountant who has set up a charity and who supports orphanages in Africa by using his evenings and annual leave to travel and fundraise
  • I know a lawyer who is writing a novel in the evenings and on weekends
  • I know a teacher who started a craft business and makes her products in the evenings and sells them online and at markets on weekends
  • I know a woman who is a stay at home mother with 5 kids, who also cares for her mother who lives with Alzheimer’s, who has built a blog that generates the equivalent of a 3 day a week job

None of these people wants to give up their work but each is also living their dreams – fairly significant dreams at that.

The reality is that not everyone’s dream is of doing something that requires you to leave employment for it to be achieved. The hard reality is that some people’s dreams don’t end up coming true (at least not in the way that they imagine that they will).

Also, keep the possibility open in your mind that perhaps a part-time job will be enough to sustain you so that you can pursue your dreams. I know that this isn’t always feasible in every industry but I know a number of people who found part-time work and simplified their lifestyle in order to sustain themselves while they also worked on making their passions and dreams a reality.

5. A Job Can = A Dream Coming True

Similarly, I can think of many people whose dreams have come true through employment.

Sometimes I wonder if we put working for yourself on a pedestal as being the only truly fulfilling end result. Why is this?

Some people are just not wired to work for themselves and do their best work when working within a team of people under the leadership of someone else. Some people’s dreams fit very comfortably into that scenario.

I think of a friend of mine whose dream was to have an impact upon global poverty. She used to think that to follow that dream meant having to charity of her own. She tried that and quickly found that it wasn’t for her. This ‘failure’ could have been the end of her dream but she decided to find another way and ended up taking a job working for not for profit organisation. After 10 years of service in that organisation, she’s risen through the ranks and looks like becoming the next CEO of it. Her dream has come true – through her employment.

I know of another friend who took a similar path. He dreamed of starting a business that developed iPhone apps in a particular field but ended up joining another company who did that and working for someone else. Interestingly by taking that job he learned the skills he needed to also pursue some personal projects and ended up starting his own company on the side.

This is a path that many people would do well to consider. It may mean re-skilling and switching the fields in which you work in (and perhaps taking a pay cut to get in at the ground level) but could be a way of following your dream and keeping a steady stream of income.

6. Sometimes You Do Need to Jump

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Sometimes, there comes a time to make the leap. It’s not for everyone and not something to rush a decision into but there comes a point where you’ve created enough momentum and you hit a ceiling of how much you can pursue your dreams while having a job.

Sometimes you also come to a point where you are just too comfortable with a ‘good life’ to do what it takes to create a ‘great life’. You need to put yourself into an uncomfortable position to make yourself fight for your dreams!

Make sure you wrestle with this decision a little. Listen to the ‘fear’ (fear is actually a good thing – it keeps us alive but also is often a precursor to doing something significant!) and involve others who care for you (and who you care for) in the decision and then make the move.

Sometimes you just need to jump and put yourself in a place where you’ve got no other option but to work your butt off to make your dream come true.

What would you add?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who hears people saying that they’re quitting jobs to chase dreams. What do you say to them?

And to those of you who’ve made the leap (or attempted it) – what do you wish people would have said to you?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Charles says:

    Great article, I definitely think that a lot of people do not believe that they can have a job that also is their dream. Thanks for sharing these inspiring thoughts!

  2. Great article!
    I’m actually chasing my dream and its coming true but I’m trying as much as possible not to let it distract me (sometimes you don’t need to jump)

  3. Billy says:

    Plan to quit today.

    I would tell people who want to leave their job to just quit it. Sell all of your belongings that you really do not need. Sell your house, and even your car if you’re in a place where public transit is optional. Sell your DVD collection. Do whatever it takes to do what you love. If you have to rent a room, or even live out of your vehicle for a while, do it (it’s not that bad).

    In my circumstance, I planned to quit my job but at the same time oddly enough I ended up having to quit my job due to an unexpected circumstance during that time. I was forced to burn all bridges because even a full time job did not give me the comfort and security financially to even hardly survive, much less progress. Long story.

    It will make you tough, where you will have to conquer the fears that most people won’t.

    Always do what you love.

    The usual cliche that otherwise you are living in the Matrix is true.

    What I wish people would have told me… Well there are a lot of marketers online marketing “Live Your Dreams” and they tell their stories of their hard life prior to becoming successful. However they leave gaps in the stories of how they achieved that success. They tell their stories in a way where it makes it seem like an overnight deal where there was no work involved. I think a lot of how things are marketed online like this plays with human impulsiveness, which is not good for someone who is ignorant, poor and struggling. I kept buying into marketing programs a few years back but I was so bad off financially, my mind was clouded, and I was buying things left and right, impulsively. So that’s not a good thing for someone like I was.

    So people that quit their jobs maybe should be open about the actual transition phase, like when they say they had no money… you must have borrowed it, or used a credit card… ? Stuff like that.

  4. Billy says:

    And I just wanted to add to my last comment that I appreciate you sharing different ways the transition could be made, and how you did it, Darren!

  5. Great post Darren very inspirational and motivating you have inspired me to work even harder towards achieving my goals.

  6. Adam Smith says:

    This is definitely something to ponder for anyone stepping out to chase their dreams. I am still in the getting ready stage of stepping out some day. Thanks Darren for this challenge.

  7. Lalitha says:

    Thank u for sharing such a great advice post. Everybody should chase for their dream but not in a way that when he comes back he has nothing left behind.

  8. Amanda Dyer says:

    Great points to consider!

    I’m in the “run up” stage of my dream. I have a marketing/design business I work on in the evenings and weekends, and a full-time job (of the same nature) during the day. It’s a lot of work and can be exhausting at times, but I think it’s the smartest way to do it for me.

  9. This is an interesting article with some great stuff.Thanks for sharing it .Chasing after your dream is important .Thanks bro sharing this article!

  10. Karla Chipp says:

    We have to do our passion in practical ways.

  11. Hanady says:

    I really want to chase my dream of becoming a writer :) I haven’t quit my job yet, but I am planning to make writing as a part time job for now. Please check my blog: http://lifeisgreatsmile2.blogspot.com/ and tell me what you think.
    Thanks for the awesome tips.

  12. HD says:

    Thanks for this article. I quit my full-time job just over a month ago without having done much planning. I felt comfortable doing it that way precisely because I don’t have anyone depending on my financially, so the risk I took was mine alone. For me it was also important to think about what was likely to happen if I didn’t quit my job. Was I going to talk myself out of trying something new? Would I get so burned out at work that I became ineffective at my job? Was I likely to see any growth in that job if I stayed in it? Those were questions that helped me decide that it was better to take a chance in the end.

  13. John Brown says:

    The article is really impressive.Nowadays most of the people are not satisfied with their jobs just because they don’t found them interesting. The main reason behind that is if a person enjoys its works which he/she is doing then work will become interesting. In my opinion one should follow their dream and try to work hard to chase them. If your goal is clear then only you can choose which path to follow.
    Thanx a lot….

  14. Kalee says:

    I just quit my job this month to pursue blogging and fitness coaching full-time. This is such a great post!! It took 16-months for me to feel comfortable and feel responsible as you said. I also think a mentor is a huge help for me.

  15. Nate says:

    Great post Darren! I am definitely going to share this article with a few of my good friends who are right now trying to “chase their dreams”, but are a bit of afraid to take the big plunge. I myself, took my big leap early this year when I moved from Rhode Island to Florida. I can definitely agree that I had to have a “back-up plan” in case anything failed, but fortunately I lucked out and was able to stay in the sunny state of Florida!

  16. Nikhat says:

    Eye opener !! Interesting blog ..very much relevant to my current situation. Thanks gor sharing !!! :-)

  17. praktikos says:

    Hey thanks for the great tips, This has been one of the best blogging blogs which has inspired me to finally launch my own personal development blog. I am currently jobless, but as a music producer and conscious self-development enthusiast, feel that I am more than capable of creating a source of income through my own personal knowledge, talent, and skill within these fields. I was referred to your blog through steve pavlina’s blog which i also enjoy.

    -Prak

  18. Nina Amir says:

    Great post, Darren. I’d only add that some people don’t feel they can pursue their dreams while employed full time and with other commitments because they perceive that they have no extra time. This is just a perception and an excuse. If they truly want to make their dreams come true, they will find the time, make the time.

    Those who don’t find a way to take the baby steps to transition toward their dream, or to create the dream as part of what they do now, have to explore the reasons why they don’t do so. Are they afraid? Are they really not as passionate about the dream as they say?

    There is always a way to begin taking those little steps toward what we desire if we truly want to do so–even if it is just 30 minutes a day blogging at first. The energy of starting builds and we soon find ourselves “finding” an hour a day, and then two and three…And before we know it, our dream has manifested.

  19. josé says:

    Hello, good warning article, contrary to others sites some people have sent me. As ive been saying before, chasing your dream and following your passions are not necesarily the same thing… it might even turn out that what you thought was your dream doesnt makes you feel passion at all once you try it.

    the bottom line is this: if you arent doing what you say love RIGHT NOW, no matter how much you earn, or that you come home very tired or family takes away so much time, even if it is NOT MONETIZED, then, its not a passion. If you want to write, well, WRITE! you dont need to quit your job to do it

  20. josé says:

    ahh sorry Nina, didnt read your post, totally agree with you.

  21. Hi,

    I’m still waiting for my turn to do the jump and quit my job. Currently I’m working hard at my websites. I feel that the no. 1 motivation is to have a stable income to replace my salary. Working hard now :)

    Thanks
    SC

  22. Mic Johns says:

    I read your article and agree with it.

    Back up plan is really important to incur the expenses which comes and specially chasing the dream also involve money.I am working with a firm and thinking to quit it to run my own business but still working because i did not have any backup plan.I am concentrating on my backup and contemporary working on my dream.Because if we are not scared of our dream than it is not a dream….:-)

    Regards,

  23. Susan Evans says:

    I knew a man who quit his job because he didn’t “love” working. Many people who “quit their jobs to chase their dreams” use it as a cover-up for laziness to mooch off others. They never end up doing anything, and they’re just fat slobs who sit on the couch and burp.

    One woman divorced her husband who acted this way. Another woman put up with it and worked double time to pay for the two of them so that her family wouldn’t starve. Another woman prayed like crazy that her husband would at least try to find a job. It’s sad really.

    Even a dream job where you are self-employed (and I fall into that category) requires lots of tedious work that is not fun. You must work your butt off if you expect to be fulfilled in life, but you should always be headed toward your dreams.

  24. Adri VelBac says:

    Thanks Darren! Another one to think through! I’d like to share to startups my experience too: I’m a former graphic designer and later on studied garment cutting and pattern making. I attempted to start my freelance graphic design business a few years back and, realize not only have a huge load of graphic design work to do, but also doing meetings, and accounting, and PPRR, and still having to go to the supermarket, and do laundry, and naively thought that working on my own I would be able to find time to blog and to design my first sweatshirt and hoodies collection, ha!….

    Finally I snapped. I came back to a full time job to recapitalize, pay a few liabilities and restructure my business plan. Finally concluded that this is helping me to become more organized, I’m finding myself blogging a sunrise and editing, designing and illustrating finally for my upcoming collection so, even taking the ‘long’ path I feel certain and secure about being able to keep paying rent and food and STILL pursuing my dream :)

  25. Kitty says:

    Although we can’t say hard work is bound to be successful,efforts are never totally in vain

  26. susan says:

    Really great piece! Practical & inspiring – I am one who needs to make the transition gradually and it’s good to read about people who are doing that.

  27. Nicely written, and for sure you took the “safe and responsible” route to Problogger and other blogs you write / develop for a living.

    Personally, I just made the leap… with my back against the wall, “having” to make things work, there was no safety net… and it forced me to adapt, learn, produce, whatever.

    Now, if it didn’t work, of course the risks were higher. Thankfully, it did. :)

  28. Estra Roell says:

    Excellent article, Darren! You make many great points. Everyone’s situation and temperament is different, so decisions need to take that into account. I also like that you address the fact that not everyone is suited to working for themselves. It’s quite possible to create what you want in your work while being employed by someone else. I actually had a coaching client who had been running her own business and wanted to get back into working for someone, as she was a single mother of three and needed her income to be steady. She had great skills and rose to the top of the company she got hired by and was made a partner in just a year! She’s still doing work she loves and is very happy now.

    If someone is thinking of making a change, I would recommend volunteering in what you think you want to do, shadowing someone who is already doing it, or, as you suggest, do it on the side at first. That way you’ll have a good idea of what you’re going toward before taking a leap. By all means, do what you love, however you can! When you love what you do you put more energy and dedication into it.

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  30. Joe says:

    Good article. Years ago I wanted to become a professional speaker, but was afraid I could not make a living “living my dream”. Spoke briefly with Tony Robbins. He said “if money were not an issue, what would you speak about”? I tried doing workshops called “Smart Business, Smart Golf”. Didn’t work out well. What I learned is that in addition to doing what you love, you need to have a market that will buy it. I didn’t and I had to get a “real” job. Marsha Sinetar was partially right in her book “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow” – but she needed to add “As long as enough people are willing to buy what you’re selling”.

    I lost faith in the “Follow Your Dreams” thing until I realized how my father had managed to live his dreams. He did a variety of jobs, TV repairman, built bridges as a laborer, apartment maintenance man – but he was a Christian man who wanted to share the gospel. He didn’t have a degree, but was an ordained minister. Didn’t have a church or a stomach for religious politics. So he became the Sunday pavillion minister at the world’s largest KOA campground in Virginia Beach, VA – for 30 years. Kept his day job but lived his dream on the weekends and met people from all over the world in the process.

    Botttom line – don’t ever give up your dream, but you may have to do the things others are not willing to do to achieve them. These kind of people are my inspiration.