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The Price Of A Dream

12:43 am on Sep 27, 2006

What is the price for pursuing a dream? In any entrepreneurial pursuit, an entrepreneur needs both passion and the tenacity to execute that dream. Saying is often one thing and doing is another. Most people gave up without putting up a good fight. The editors of SG Entrepreneurs highly recommend this article by our resident contributor, Cobalt Paladin that no one owes you a dream and living and it is up to the individual to pursue it. A foreword is also added to this published article from his blog.

Foreword by BL: When I read this blog entry, my honest view is that I can identify some aspects with it. Yet, when I show some of my peers (those around my age), it resonated within them about the dreams they talked about when we were in our younger days. Youth is wasted on the young, but it is often better to pursue your dream than to wait for years later and tell yourself that you miss the boat. Of course, there is a fine line between taking a risk and be cautious. I often tell my students that if you smell a moment, it is better to go ahead and pursue it. Everything comes with a price, and you will lose some things in the way. I believe that Singaporeans should learn to fail, not just as entrepreneurs and accept failure as it is. It is useless to attribute blame to the education system, national service and even to government in everything. Life is only worthwhile if you live it, and if you don’t, then it is not worth living. I hope that you enjoy this piece as I do, and let Cobalt Paladin to tell you more in his piece, “The Price of a Dream”.

Contributed by Cobalt Paladin

If you are an executive earning $10k a month. You had a dream but you chose to give it up so you can keep earning $10k a month and more in future. That would be the price of your dream.

If you were a poly lecturer making $5k per month but you gave up the job to pursue your dream of being a volunteer to take care of the stray cats at a much reduced income. However, you are happier and derived satisfaction from the volunteer work. That would be the price of your dream.

If you have a dream but currently you are working in a job to earn enough savings for you to realise your dream, even though you may or may not enjoy what you are doing now but that is the price you are willing to pay to realise your dream.

What is the price you are willing to pay for your dream? What was the price I paid for my dream?

I was an engineer making $40k a year. I risked it to develop a product which I thought would benefit and bring convenience to my target audience. It took me 3 years before there was a sufficient revenue stream. So in terms of monetary value, the price I paid to pursue my dream was $120k. However, in actual fact, it may be more than that. My economic value as an engineer is potentially $2 million. If you were me, would you be willing to pay the price?

I was lucky. I wasn’t intelligent as I didn’t consider so many factors. I attribute it to the brashness of youth. I thought my idea was going to be a runaway success so I just ran (pun intended) with my idea. I was naive. On hindsight, it wasn’t such a bad thing.

Maybe I was also stupidly stubborn. I didn’t know when to give up. And I stupidly persevered for 3 years, so much so that I was almost unable to pay my bills. That was the price I was willing to pay.

After 6 years. Now. Looking back. Have I gained more or lost more? Does success have to be measured that way? I would rather choose to contemplate and be satisfied by what I’ve gained.

I’ve more time to spend with my family. I can spend more time with my wife. I’m able to see my children grow. I can be part of their childhood. I’m there for them when they need me. I can be more flexible with my time. Please do not be mistaken for a second that by doing your own thing, you have more freedom or more free time. On the contrary, you have less freedom and more stress as there is no moment when you are not worried about your venture. There isn’t a moment in time where you stop thinking how you can do better and how to outrun your competitors. I work longer hours. Many a times, I only sleep for 4 to 6 hours.

It is also a fact that what I’ve achieved can be lost in a whim and through no fault of my own.

What made me do it then?

I just had to know. I just had to know for sure if I can make my idea work. I don’t want to regret for the rest of life if someone had successfully implemented a similar idea and it wasn’t me. I don’t want to be plagued by what ifs? If I had tried and failed, at least I would be satisfied with the knowledge that I wasn’t the better person to make it work. In that sense, I’ve also realised my dream, even though it was a failed dream. But at least, I’ve dreamt. I’ve lived.

Do not blame Singapore or the people around you if you dare not live for your dream. Do not blame the society that it does not tolerate failures. The truth is that you don’t tolerate your own failure.

There is a price to every dream. The question is: Are you willing to pay the price?

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Have Your Say
  • Joe

    I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, thank you for sharing Cobalt Paladin!

    I remember my boss(es) asking me on the day I resigned, “Are you sure you want to do this? You’re still so young, don’t you want to get more business experience (here) first?”.

    I still remember my replies to both of them very clearly, which is, if I don’t do it now, i’ll probably NEVER do it, and I don’t wish to live my life regretting every single day.

    I remember also telling them that this is probably the best time for me to do it, as although I lack so-called “business experience” (whatever that means), I also have very little to lose. I don’t own a car, don’t have kids or a wife, and the only things I need to pay off are my bills, insurance (which i’ve cancelled), and money to my parents every month. There’s probably never going to be another moment in my life from now on that i’ll ever be so financially free.

    I’m still trying to find out whether i’ll even break even in this venture of mine, but even if I make $0, I will still consider all the expenses i’ve incurred whilst chasing this dream worthwhile. The peace of mind knowing that i’ve at least tried after i’m “done” with this venture is to me, priceless.

    I hope that all the students out there, recent-grads or people at their turning points in life wondering or not whether to quit their jobs to chase their dream, get to read Cobalt’s post (or my comment? ;)) and get fired-up enough to go chase your dream.

    Imagine your life is like Mario in the video game, and you’re on your last life. You can choose to just stand on the same spot the entire level and just wait for the timer to run out and die a peaceful, and uneventful death, OR you can just charge forward, stomp on some mushrooms, risk falling into caverns and try to reach the flag in the end. At least if you failed, you can tell others, “Hey, at least i’ve played the game!”.

  • http://cobaltpaladin.blogspot.com Cobalt Paladin

    Hi Joe,

    Good luck for walking the road less travelled. There are many of us here taking the less trodden path. We are all here to support each other.

    Just a small note. If possible, maybe you would like to continue your insurance? For me, I continued paying for my insurance as I still need to take care of my mum and wife. If anything happens to me, hopefully, they can be cared for by the insurance payout. :p

  • ccpin

    Hi Cobalt Paladin & Joe,

    Kudos for taking the path less travelled! Just wondering what your experience was persuading others, especially students, to do likewise. I agree that more people can be persuaded to be more enterprising, but it doesn’t have to be starting a venture.