Following Your Dreams Full-Time Isn't Expensive

by @farzatv - 3 minute read

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine who we'll call Emily for the sake of this post. She works as a software engineer at a massive weapons company that primarily sells missiles and planes to the United States Military.

She 26 and absolutely hates her job, her co-workers, and the mission of the company. She has dreams of course. She wants to live in Japan, explore the mountains, and contribute to open-source software full-time.

But she continues working her job because of the stable $75K a year salary. Before taxes, she's making ~$6250 a month. A decent amount of money. Especially considering the median monthly income for a household in her city is $40K a year / $3300 a month.

After taxes, she's bringing home ~$5000 a month.

I asked her, is the $5000 a month worth it? She didn't know, so we did some quick math to help guide the conversation.

She works 40 hours a week. Assuming a person sleeps for 8 hours a night that leaves them with 16 hours of what I'll call "alive time". That's time where they can consciously do stuff. In a single week, a person has 112 hours of alive time (16 hours x 7 days).

So, 35% of her weekly alive time (40 hours / 112 hours = ~35%) is being traded for $1250 (her weekly pay after taxes).

So then I asked her, "is 35% of your weekly alive time worth $1250 a week"? She said no.

I then asked, "How much money do you need to follow your dreams in Japan"? She already had done the numbers. It would cost her about $300 a week to live comfortably in a smaller city outside of Tokyo.

I pointed to a stainless steel water bottle on my table and said "That bottle cost me $32. Assuming it costs $8 to make and $4 to ship to a customer, that leaves $20 profit on the table for the person selling it. For you to live your dreams, you need to sell 15 of those water bottles a week on the internet. Can you do that?".

She fully agreed. It was extremely doable.

She realized that her dreams were a mere 15 water bottles per week away.

Following your dreams full-time isn't expensive. Figure out what you want to do (ex. building open-source software in Japan or making music in LA), figure out the amount of $ that requires, and then brainstorm ways to reach that minimum amount. What you'll find is that getting a degree and a job is just one way to reach that minimum amount and it's probably one of the more difficult paths :).

10 months ago