For God’s sake, follow your dreams

9 Jul '12

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.

Rocky sing!

“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.

There are 10 comments in this article:

  1. 9/07/2012Jeb Ory says:

    Amit,
    Great call to seize the opportunity and make something happen. Often, the regrets we have are for NOT trying something, not for trying something that didn’t work out. That’s what life is all about. That, and fish tacos.

  2. 9/07/2012Rahul says:

    Amit, you are too right. The safety of the paycheck is the biggest hurdle when all one can think about are responsibilities and hardships that *may* occur if that steady paycheck disappears. Who’s to say it won’t be replaced with a bigger one, albeit not as ‘steady’ as one has come to learn?

  3. 9/07/2012T says:

    Very inspiring, AJ…! I think, I may be at that crucial decision point some time soon…
    —-
    So many times it happens too fast
    You trade your passion for glory
    Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
    You must fight just to keep them alive
    Eye of the Tiger…

  4. 9/07/2012Poonam says:

    Amitab,

    I believe in shooting for the stars. Each one of us must believe in our dreams and must chase them. My friend dreams do come true :))

  5. 10/07/2012Viral says:

    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” . :) Thanks for sharing it

  6. 10/07/2012J says:

    Thank you for sharing Amit – for me it was always fear and financial safety that kept me from making the choice to leave a full time job (and the very last time, a 6 figure salary). I’ve done it a couple of times now, to adjust career paths in a direction that is towards my dream of financial and work independence, enabling me to do, well, anything I want to, whenever I want to. I’m pouring my energy into building things that I believe in, and I’m having fun doing it while pursuing my dreams – happiness is at an all time high. It does also really help to have people who believe in you and your dreams, like friends, family and work partners.

  7. 5/08/2012seshu says:

    So amitabh, the voltage in every part of your neuron system is perfect and it charged mine!

  8. 19/09/2012For God's sake, follow your dreams - Page 2 says:

    [...] anyone browsing old threads, the text of original article has moved, but can be found here: For God’s sake, follow your dreams – Amit Jotwani Sadly, the original comments appear to be gone though. Drat! My takeaway: If you're waiting for [...]

  9. 19/12/2012Jason says:

    Hey Amit,

    I came across your blog on Hacker News back in July. Your quote, “Don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least give our dreams a fair shot?” really resonated with me. I was invited to give morning prayers at Memorial Church in Cambridge, MA, and used your message as the foundation for my talk. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your ideas. Here is the transcript of the speech:

    http://blog.jasonoutlaw.com/2012/dreams

    Thanks again! @jasonoutlaw

  10. 2/01/2013Jason says:

    Love the passion behind the writing. It’s so true. I was reluctant to leave a job I had all through college, because I was comfortable doing it. Then I actually got fired.

    I lolly gagged a few weeks and got back on the horse, and found another job.

    I doubled my income the following year doing what I had actually gone to college for.

    Sometimes, you just need to get uncomfortable.

    Thanks for the post.

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