Photo by Cynthia Lou
My friends are living their passions. They’re living location independently in Thailand, New Zealand, and Italy, they’ve quit their full-time and become life coaches, and many have decided to pursue a startup company and try to build an empire.
I feel it’s great that we’re encouraging people to pursue their passions. It would be great to simplify my life, own less material possessions, and live on a modest income in a remote country enjoying the simple things in life. But I feel like I just can’t do it. What about the responsibilities that I have because I come from a single-parent, middle-income home that depends on me for its financial future?
My Mom, Dad, and Brother are all depending on me to succeed. My Mom was hit hard with this economic recession and has lost a majority of her retirement, meaning I will need to support her retirement so that she can live comfortably after 65. My Dad has his own construction company but has never saved more than $1,000 in his life. He won’t be able to do the intensive work required for his construction company for much longer, so I will need to make enough money so that my Dad can retire comfortably. My Brother is going to school and I feel he will do well in life, but the level of income he aspires for will not cover our family responsibilities. I will be the sole provider for my family.
Are you in this boat? We talk about sacrificing our full-time jobs and taking a risk to build a startup, but we neglect to talk about the other things we sacrifice. If you quit your full-time and move back home, that’s a strain on your family’s income.
Lets explore these “passion myths” to find out if they will lead to happiness or stress in your life…
The Myth: Quit your full-time and start your company
I did this exact thing. I chased my “passion” by quitting my full-time job, moving back home to save money, and working non-stop to build a successful company.
For two years I did pretty decently: I worked on something I love and I paid my bills on time, what could be better?
It wasn’t until the middle of this year that I realized I have absolutely nothing in my savings account. Even worse, I had nothing in a 401K or a Roth IRA. How could I? I barely made enough money to pay off my student loans and phone bill.
I realized that I fell into a trap. I was blinded by my passion and ignored the fact that I was living paycheck to paycheck.
The Reality: Be prepared for emotional strain, for financial stress, and to risk a stable retirement. Hey, I’m the biggest proponent of starting your own company and I still think you should do it, but you need to be aware that you’re not just sacrificing your current stability, you’re sacrificing your future stability as well.
The Myth: Location Independence
It would be a dream to move to Spain or Japan, blog about my experiences, and pick up a job that would sustain my girlfriend and me. To be honest, I think it would be quit easy to do it because I’ve seen so many of my friends online do it.
After all, two people in a one bedroom apartment can easily make enough to pay rent, eat good food, and enjoy the cultural experiences of the country. So why haven’t I done it already?
The Reality: If I left for another country, I would feel like I’m turning my back on my family. Who will take care of my Dad once he can’t do his job? Who will take care of my Mom once she retires? As the eldest, it is my responsibility to make sure that every member of my family will be well off.
Furthermore, what about saving for a wedding or for my kids’ college tuition? I know I’m weird because I think about these things but if I don’t start saving now, my kids will have to struggle just like how I had to struggle to pay for my college education.
My family is not wealthy. Sometimes I look at my friends with wealthy families and envy them NOT because they got everything they wanted while growing up, but because they won’t need to financially take care of their parents or siblings.
If you’re in the same situation, how can we position ourselves to do what we love to do AND take care of our families? What are our best next steps?
This is a very important post for me and I plan to have an answer to it within a couple of days