Chasing the “Dream”.

I know a guy who quit engineering school and entered medical school. But instead of pursuing his dream to become a doctor, he became a medical researcher. He is the happiest lab rat I know. He loves what he does. He did not actually give up on his dreams, he just had to mess around a little before he found his calling. I know guys who went to language school, veterinarian school, or the military academy before they switched to a medical career. Then again, I know a guy who quit a medical career to become a professional guitarist. In fact, for every person who quit something mid-career to become a doctor, I know someone who quit a medical career to become something else.

Just as it takes some people several marriages to get hitched to the right partner, you may have to go through several jobs before you find your true calling. That is why we hear a lot about the people who quit their careers in banking to pursue their dreams painting or composing music. Strangely, we hear less about people who quit painting to become a banker.

There is this crazy story about a kid who went to Harvard to study law. He had excellent grades in high school and his father was a successful lawyer, so it seemed like a natural career choice. But he had this hobby playing with little machines that most people did not understand. It definitely was not a “real job” at the time, but he quit law school to start a small business leasing license to a string of equations on a piece of paper back when almost no such business existed and just about everybody thought he was either eccentric, irrelevant, silly, or crazy. And the rest of the story is that his name was Bill Gates.

We keep associating some careers with the mantle of “real jobs”, while other occupations are considered “dreams”. And for some reason, it is always a one way transition from one to the other. You either “give up your dreams” and switch to a “real job”, or you quit your “real job” to pursue your “dreams”.

But what if banking or teaching or accounting is your calling? There is a man running for president who once called the real estate business his calling. There is no real difference between your “dream” and a “real job”.

There is this beautiful young lady who wanted to be an actress since childhood. She begged her mother for acting lessons from an early age and took off on a promising career, but she grew disillusioned with movie acting and started a company selling soap. No, not that kind of soap. Actual bars of soap, and other home products. She still acts, but her career has moved significantly away from acting, though Jessica Alba does not seem to mind. In fact, her Honest Company (of which she owns 30%) is valued at over 1 billion dollars.

It should go without saying (though it rarely does) that your “real job” can be your “dream” or vice versa. So there really is no shame in quitting your writing to go into accounting, any more than there is any shame in quitting accounting to concentrate on your writing.

I’m still keeping my day job though. Not that I am particularly enthusiastic about it, but a brief examination of the stats lately told me that I am turning out exceedingly good outcomes. Besides, the paycheck doesn’t hurt either. Maybe I have more talent at my bread earner job than I give myself credit for. I still stop short of calling it my calling. If I strike gold like E. L. James or J. K. Rowling, I might actually quit. But I refuse to make a distinction between “real job” and “dream”. All careers can be both.


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