Should I quit my job and follow my dream?

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Making a feature film is a time consuming job at the best of times, but when you add in all the pressures of life, time seems to slip away quicker than you can imagine.

When I started toying with the idea of making the cinematic feature film Travel Warning, primarily by myself, there were two paths to follow.
One was go full steam ahead, pouring all my personal time and money I had into the project. The other option was to take my time and be very frugal with budget.

Getting real

When you take on a passion project, it is very easy to become self absorbed in the project and let it cloud your judgement. But don’t worry, the decision is easier than you think.

Ever heard a story of someone who quit their job to become a writer? You might have even heard how successful they had since become. The problem with stories like this is often it provides false hope to less talented individuals.

If this all sounds a bit negative, it’s not. I am speaking from experience and looking at both sides of the coin.

Don’t quit your job… yet.

I am sure it is the dream of many to quit their day job to follow your dream, but be very careful with your decision. There are several factors you have to take into consideration before drafting your resignation letter.

Financial Support

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

– What do you earn now?

– Do foresee your passion providing you with a similar income?

– Can I cover my bills?

– Are you happy with less than your standard income? I.e Could you live with say $300 dollars less a week?

These are the type of real specific questions, which might quickly decide your future. Money doesn’t buy happiness, that’s true. But if the stress of paying the bills is consistent, this will impact your work and relationships.

Start with the bills. If you are going into your decision not knowing how you will pay your electricity bill, mortgage, rent or phone bill, then I’d stop right there and then. Do your budget, make sure the bills are covered, first and foremost, and only then can you move on to other questions.

In my experience, I knew with two young children and a mortgage, I could not afford to quit my 9-5 to make my feature film Travel Warning. I just had to find another way to use my time to get to the end goal.

My goal was to have at least half and hour every day committed to the project. So instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, I’d be editing. It’s amazing how much time you have a night, when you’re not watching TV.

Family Support

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

– Do you have a family to support?

– Are they ok with your idea?

– Is what you are doing going to impact their lives for better or worse?

This decision is potentially life changing to many people, not just you. This is all about sitting down with your family and weighing up the pros and cons. For example, you might quit your job and lose a significant portion of your income, but the pay off for this sacrifice is the opportunity to possibly be home more with the kids. Or perhaps you can afford to downgrade your lavish lifestyle for a more simplistic way of life, less takeaways and more home cook meals.

Since I had already committed to maintaining financial status quo by holding down a 9-5, you might think the questions start and end there. It doesn’t. Family support can relate to time too. Time spent with your family. You need to decide when you’ll be doing your work, and when your family time will be. Do you work nights? Weekends? This all impacts the family life balance and if there’s not an open conversation from the beginning, expectations might not be met.

For Travel Warning, we came to the conclusion that I would work at night after the kids are in bed and to also use my annual leave to shoot for 6 days on location in China. A sensible decision that has as little impact as possible.

The End Game

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

– What are you hoping to achieve?

– Do you have another project to work on after your finished?

– How long are you willing to give it?

Hopefully, after you release your project, you’ll become enormously wealthy and live out your dream projects for the rest of your life. But what if your project, you spent months or even years working on isn’t a success? Are you doing enough to get it into the hands of the people who matter? Obviously if you’ve invested your life (and savings) into the project and it’s not turning out to well, you’re probably going to start to go into panic mode. That’s fair enough. No one wants to be a failure. But whether, you’ve decided to give up your career or still go 9-5, you have to be relentless and have the energy to keep going. Pretty soon, you’ll know all the answers yourself whether your on the right path, or you need to correct your path.

If you end up back at your old job, doing your old work, don’t worry, you’re not a failure. You gave it ago. You have something to show for it and you’ve learnt valuable life lessons. And if you have that energy and desire to get there, you’ll use that knowledge to make project 2 even better.

Only you are in control of your destiny, it’s up to you to figure out what path you’ll take. There is risks in everything you do, make sure they are calculated. If you are passionate about your project, you will get it done. You will find the time.

Don’t quit your job… yet.

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