I had my own dreams growing up. I wanted to be a professional basketball player. For me, this dream ended long ago when it was clear I wouldn't grow past six feet tall. Needless to say, it has not been something that I have held on to. But for many people they continue to cling to their dreams despite severe financial hardship. Most of these people cannot make a living chasing their dreams and this puts strains on themselves and their loved ones.
So what advice would you give someone chasing a nearly unobtainable dream? I am not the type of person who would tell someone to stop chasing their dream. I believe having dreams and refusing to give up on them are what make some of the greatest people great. But I am also an extremely rational and practical person who believes at some point you have to take responsibility and get a real job. In the specific case of my friend who made me think to write this post, he is currently out of work and she does not make enough to support the two of them.
I contrast this to my own current situation. I have told my wife to go ahead and pursue her dreams. She is going back to school with the hope of becoming an interior designer. She will for sure make less money when she finishes school and there is the expense of actually putting her through school. But in the end I want her to do whatever makes her happy even if it doesn't make any financial sense. But of course our situation is different than our friend's. I make a very good living. It is more than enough to cover our living expenses. So her pursuing her dream has no deep financial impact on our family.
In general, I think the rules should be pretty simple.
- When you are single and only responsible for yourself, you can do whatever you want
- When you are in a serious relationship, pursue your dreams so long as it does not cause any financial strain (or resentment) on your relationship
- If children are involved, really time to put away impossible goals and buckle down. Your children's dreams are now your responsibility
At the end of the day, it really just boils down to your level of responsibility. Like most things in life, the less responsibility you have, the more freedom you have to do what you want. Family always comes first.
What do you think? When do you stop chasing your dreams? Have you ever known somebody who chased it too long and what did you do about it?