I had never watched the movie “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney. Not because I don’t watch his films, but I found reading of the initial synopsis a little depressing. A guy who lives out of a suitcase because he has to fly around the world firing people – not so exciting. Nor did I come across any reviews which strongly stated otherwise. The movie was soon forgotten by me.
Last week, I happened to watch a short clip from the movie, shared by a friend on Facebook. It was a scene where George Clooney was in the process of firing an elderly gentleman, who had worked all his life in the same company. To cut a long story short, Clooney asks the man one question. It struck me like a bolt of lightning. That one question made me watch that clip repeatedly. (As of writing this, I have watched it 26 times). The question was:
“How much did they 1st pay you to give up on your dreams?”
You put away the kaleidoscope and replace it with a pair of glasses. One that “supposedly” will give you a clear idea on what path you should take to live a practical life. You decide to keep aside those dreams “for now” with plans to revisit them once you have “settled” in life. Sorry for the over use of inverted commas…The context is simple. Until you pass out of college or university, your life has constantly been a kaleidoscope of dreams and views on your life, passion, career and more. Let’s call them dreams. Dreams that gave you happiness and hope, put a smile on your face and things you could spend hours thinking about. The moment you step out of university, something changes drastically.
But how many of us actually manage to revisit them? Wait… I am asking the wrong question. How many of us decide not to compromise on those dreams? Stuff that would have actually made our life far more enriching and eventually given us what we ultimately need – happiness. Unfortunately, a very miniscule percentage.
Instead, we trade them all in and give up on them in exchange for a steady income in a socially acceptable company that we feel is the best bet in the long run. Then we move onto a life that is dictated or carved out for us by societal norms and we try to make the best of it. And we ask ourselves: Why are we not really happy?
I would like to go a step beyond what George Clooney asked. I would add the question…
“Was it worth it?”
In many cases giving up on those dreams and going along with the path described earlier might have actually been one of the best decisions one could have ever taken. What if you had a dream of becoming an opera singer but gave it up to become a banker? It would have been a very disappointing life if you were actually good at singing. What if you wanted to become an opera singer but could not hold a note for more than 3 seconds? You would be miserable in life!!!
Going after your dream and going after your dream career are 2 different things. One will give you immense happiness doing it; the other will give you happiness in hindsight. The important part is that it has to be an element of your actual desire, not one that has been forced upon you.
So not all of us gave up a dream… Some of us just changed it!!
Ask yourself these two questions and answer them truthfully… You might get a whole new perspective on where you ought to be headed.
“How much did they 1st pay you to give up on your dreams? Was it worth it?”
In my case…
I was paid 831 USD a year to give up my dream to become a Wildlife Researcher. Definitely NOT worth it!
This article was originally published on The Arabian Post