Should I Pursue My Dream or Just Get a Job?


Sometimes, just getting a job may be the most responsible thing to do and the quickest way to make your dream come true.

A young woman, Raven, asked me this question:

Hi, Dan, am I being too idealistic or too practical? I went back to school two years ago and just finished an Associates in art. I am good, but it takes time to become great. In the meantime I need to move out and support myself. My previous industry was insurance-related. Out of the blue I received an invitation from an old contact to interview for a job in that industry. I nailed the interview. Of course I may or may not get the job. But what if I do? I have been volunteering at museums and galleries but this is a paid gig. I wanted to keep taking night classes in art. If I get this job I won’t have time to continue volunteering or take those classes. Should I turn it down and hold out for what I want or forget the classes and start making money again?

I encouraged Raven to take the job. No one does their best “art” when they are desperate. I described working with a Christian musician years ago. We’ll call her Janice. She was living with friends and driving an old rattletrap car that kept breaking down. She would beg for opportunities to sing at little tiny churches on Sunday night—hoping and praying they would give her enough of a love offering so she could buy groceries on Monday. I suggested that Janice use her administrative skills to get a real job. She listened, got a job at Fruit of the Loom —got her own apartment and bought a really nice car. Guess what happened?  All of a sudden her invitations to sing increased and her love offerings more than doubled what they ever had been. The peace of mind she was experiencing replaced the transparent desperation. People wanted to be around her as she sang from a heart full of joy.

You probably know that I look for AND solutions, not Either/Or. Here is response I got one week later from Raven. Read carefully through her description of the different emotional state that has freed up her best art.

Dan, Thank you so much for answering my question today. I am the artist who asked about being too idealistic or too realistic. In any case, I got the job and just finished my first week. I am very happy! And my dedication to my art has taken on a greater intensity because the amount of free time I have each day is limited. I feel free to make the kind of art I really care about instead of wondering “what will sell." I am no longer desperate and am looking forward to moving out on my own and having a car again. I feel blessed to have an interesting job AND a career as an artist (and money)! Thanks for everything that you do. Fridays are the highlight of the week for me, not because of the weekend, but because of 48 Days.

While I like the idea of “burning the boats” I see more and more examples where it makes sense to stair step our way to success. Pursuing your dream doesn’t justify putting yourself in a position of desperation—or being dependent on others while that dream comes into view. Getting a job may be the most responsible thing to do and the quickest way to make your dream come true. Look for AND solutions and accelerate your success in all areas.


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