Pursue Passions – Not Paychecks
“Don’t be afraid of dying, be afraid of living with nothing to die for.”
It was my “seemingly” the last day of my engineering career. After “chasing” it for 12 months – I was done with it. I had winded up everything and was ready to go. I stood in front of the college gates gazing them for the last time. Swiftly, I started walking, slowly pacing towards the bus stop – my mind was filled up (rather messed up) with hundreds of thoughts and uncertainty about the future. What was I going to pursue next? Engineering was never my cup of tea. What’s next? I wondered. As I was about to leave, suddenly a voice stopped my slowly pacing steps…
“Adiiiiii!!!” she was Millie (her name is replaced) one of my best friend.
“Hey!” I tried my best to “seem” normal.
“Are you serious? You might be kidding – right? I just heard that… That was the worst joke for today dude!” it clearly seemed she was shocked, puzzled and horrified.
“No. I’m serious. And this was my last day here in this college. I have winded up everything and so, this would be the last time – we would catch our bus together.”
“Are you gone mad? You are acting insane! What’s wrong with you? What would you do after leaving engineering? Have you ever thought what would it cost to leave engineering?” She was still in ‘shock’.
“Well, leaving engineering will let me pursue my dreams and go along with my passion where my heart would be at the driving seat. For instance, I have decided to give the steering in the hands of my intuition and let the mind relax for a while on the back seat – and not to interfere in my heart’s decisions. I have had it with engineering and I know it’s not ‘my cup of tea’. Actually, I like coffee more than tea. I won’t be proud to introduce myself as an engineer. I’m least bothered about how buildings are made or how to straighten a house – and most passionate about how to reconstruct a life and how to strengthen relationships with myself and all others!” I paused for a while and added, “And yes. I know what it will cost if I don’t leave it now.”
“You might consider taking a break for some time rather than permanently quitting it.” she said.
“You just cannot stop anyone who knows where he wants to reach.”
“Well, if that’s your final decision, then I wish you a good luck – an amazing future ahead. Stay in touch – and keep the spark alive! I know you will make it real.” she seemed more confident than me.
“It means a lot. Thank You so much for all the love, care and consideration, it was wonderful journey till date – take care!” with an emotionally touching gaze – we departed, and probably that was the last time I was seeing her.
“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
~ Steve Jobs
Very few know about my “incomplete” engineering career as I have never talked publicly about it yet. Maybe because I was ashamed. Ashamed of what? Not pursuing my passion and going along with the flow? Though some decisions are very critical in life to go with – but at the end, they are worth it. I started my career as a “would be” civil engineer, maybe just because at that point of time, I didn’t knew what was it that I was passionate about. (For the ones who are in the process of figuring out their calling, here’s a quick passion test!)
Maybe, was I too small to figure it out? Well, I think I won’t give that excuse a chance to hide my “ignorance” about designing my own future. Within just a couple of months after starting engineering. I knew it wasn’t at all for me – yet I went along with it for 11 months due to the insistence of my beloved ones – who always wished “the best” for me (according to them) and this wasn’t an exception. (It is to be noted here, that I’m not at all disregarding the fact that the people closest to me want “the best” for me. What I’m stressing here is: the best according to them.)
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
– Neil Gaiman
After those 11 months, I was sure that I would love to introduce myself as a “Life Engineer” rather than a “Civil Engineer”. It wasn’t the damn money anyways. I was least concerned about it. I believe, money is something anyone can trade. Even a fool can earn a lot of money (P.S. It really doesn’t mean that people who earn a lot of money are fools. Please take it on a positive note. This simply means that – any fool can earn money, but not “a lot of money” enough to make anyone wealthy.) And in fact, I too would consider myself a “fool” if I give up on my passion thereby accepting a “heavy paycheck”.
I was undoubtedly scoring “fair enough” marks in engineering – that were enough to buy me a cool package at the end if I had continued with it. Anyone in this world – whosoever, can trade money – sufficiently by doing anything. By working hard anyone can be “rich”. But if you want to be “wealthy” then I think you better consider how much are you passionate about the work you are doing. And it’s far better to be “poor and fulfilled” rather than “rich and miserable”. Well, at least that way people won’t make fun of you. Well, the fact of the matter is, the sense of fulfilment and satisfaction is expensive than money. Money is something anyone can trade, but happiness, a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment is something you could trade for nothing.
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
~ Bob Dylan
My goal was to create a life that I didn’t need a vacation from. And writing and public speaking was something that I could do with all of my heart and soul, 24×7, and without expecting a single penny from anyone.
“Pour your heart and soul in whatever you are pursauing and see the magic unfolding.”
-From my interview with Sir Sanjay raval
So, after quitting engineering, I started pursuing BA in English, so that I could give most of my time to my passion for writing and public speaking. You might think my choice to be “insane” or you might think of me as a “lunatic”. But you know what? I don’t give a darn about what you think of me. Well, it’s none of my business anyways. But here’s how my life has drastically changed in just a year later.
- I’ve just “republished” my book “Be Successful: Thrive Exponentially Beyond Excellence” and from the day it was in markets, till today – it’s on fire!!!
- I’m invited at least once per week to deliver a seminar or a session in multiple schools and colleges.
- I love what I do, and the work I do is making a difference in the lives of many.
After all, what is success? It is living your life on your own terms. It is different for all of us. For someone like Mother Teresa, it is to serve people in all the ways she possibly can – and for someone like Donald Trump, success is owning the most expensive toys in the world. For me, success is helping people to take charge of their life by being all that they possibly can!
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
There is a story called the fisher and the manager. It exists in many cultures, versions and translations. Here’s mine.
A manager stands at the pier of a little, remote fishermen’s village and watches the sea. He sees a small boat make its way toward the shore. As it lands, the manager is impressed by the big load of tuna on board. He congratulates the fisherman and asks:
“How long did it take you to catch all these?”
The fisherman says:
“Not long. Just a few hours.”
The manager looks slightly puzzled.
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea? You could catch even more!”
The fisher responds that he caught enough fish to feed his family for the next few days. The manager asks:
“Then how do you spend the rest of your day?”
The Fisher explains:
“Well, I always make sure I get a good night’s rest, then, in the morning, I go fishing for a while. When I come home, I play with the kids a little, take a nap with my wife after lunch and go for a walk around the village. In the evening, I have a glass of wine with my friends and play the guitar and we’re all merry together.”
The manager offers a piece of advice:
“I have a PhD from Harvard. I make a lot of money helping people run their businesses. Not only that, I can help you become more successful.
From now on, you should spend a lot more time fishing, because from the extra money, you could buy a bigger boat. A bigger boat means even more fish and more profits, which you could use to buy a whole fleet of boats.
Instead of selling the fish to a merchant, you could first sell to a fish cannery and later, set up your own canned fish production plant and distribution network.
You could move out of this tiny village, into the big city, where you set up your headquarters, from which you manage the other branches of your flourishing company.”
The fisher had listened closely and silently.
“How long would that take?”
The manager thought for a second.
“Hmm…probably 15 to 20 years.”
The fisher asks:
“And then what?”
The manager laughs.
“Here’s the best part. When the time is ripe, you will take your company public, sell all of your company shares at the stock exchange and make a lot of money. You will be rich beyond measure. You’ll make millions!”
The fisherman shakes his head in disbelief. With wide eyes, he responds:
“Millions? And then what?”
The manager smiles.
“Well, then you could finally stop working and retire! You could move to a small fishermen’s village, get a good night’s rest every day, fish for a while, play with your kids a little, take a nap with your wife after lunch and go for a walk around the village. You could have a glass of wine with your friends every evening, play the guitar, and you could all be merry together.”
Getting rich is only worth it when you have fun getting there.
The ironic part is when you’re having fun, it won’t matter where you go. Money only makes you more of who you already are. So instead of becoming someone whose bank account is multiplying, become someone worth amplifying.
Whether fisher or manager, as long as we do that, you and I will be just fine. Go with your heart’s desire, and do what you are most passionate about. I bet you would never have to work in your entire life.
So what are you passionate about? What excites you the most? And what is it, you can die for? Go out in the wild and hunt everything that excites you. Live life passionately and make the most of it! Pursue passions – not paychecks!(And because. So. Furthermore.)
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”