Paying the Price For Your Dreams

paying the price

What does it take to get what you want out of life? Is it good looks? Talent? Charm? Start-up capital? Luck?

In my case, I had two gifts that were potentially worth something: a good eye and a knack for writing. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure out how to capitalize on them. I graduated with an Economics degree but didn’t know what to do with it. Fortunately, I got involved in an education business that gave me some valuable business insights and experience. It also during this phase of my existence that I discovered one of my biggest passions: interior design.

Figure out what you want to do with your life

I took design classes at night so it wouldn’t interfere with the business I was running during the day. What started out as a creative exploration turned into a serious pursuit as I eventually realized that I wanted to do interior design full time. I also decided to move to a bigger city once I finished my studies. People thought I was crazy to turn my back on a profitable business. I find, though, that once you realize what you really want to do with the rest of your life, walking away from a job or business isn’t that hard. Besides, I had already set up the business so that it could be run by somebody else, just in case.

Take the first step of that 10,000 mile journey

This was one of the scariest moments in my life. Not only had I decided to start my new career thousands of miles from home, I was moving to a new city just before Winter. In addition to never having experienced sub-zero temperatures, I needed to master a new language and learn to live independently. Looking back at this part of my history, I realized that my life would have been totally different had I not decided to take that huge risk. If you find yourself at this same point in your life you can make one of two choices: (1) bet on your dreams (2) play it safe. I decided on the first option despite the massive risk of failure. I just didn’t want to have regrets later on and wonder about what might have been.

Find people to help you

I decided to try my luck in Europe after talking to an Italian magazine editor who encouraged me to leave Manila – where I was born and educated – and get work experience abroad. She gave me a list of the top interior designers in Milan where she worked and let me use her as a reference. As I contacted several potential employers, my network of supporters grew. People offered me a place to stay or referred various part-time job opportunities to help fund my existence. I discovered that it was a lot easier to find supporters once I shared my dreams with everyone. Several people admired my guts. Most of them were doing what they were doing out of necessity, not out of choice. This made me feel even more blessed to be able to pursue my dreams.

Never quit until you reach your goals

At first, people were worried about me. After all, life in a foreign city is tough and I had come from a cocooned existence. However, when they saw how determined I was, they all stopped doubting me and started becoming believers. It didn’t take me long to convince more than one employer that it was worth it to take a risk on me. Despite moments of massive self-doubt and fighting off negative thoughts like “what the hell was I thinking leaving my business, friends and family to start a new career in a strange city” swimming in my head, I got a job less than two weeks after I had arrived in Milan.

* * *

These early experiences – in addition to eventually running my own successful design business – enabled me to transition to the next phase of my career, which was becoming an author and speaker. From helping people optimize their personal spaces, I now help them optimize their thinking so they can achieve their personal and career goals.

It’s been an amazing journey, so far and I still have to pinch myself sometimes to see if it’s all real. It’s never been an easy road, though. As many people who’ve gone all the way to the top will attest, it takes years and painstaking effort to become an overnight success.

Each day is a piece of a very interesting puzzle that continues to fall into place. If there’s one thing I know for sure, though, it’s this: if you stick to your dreams and keep on winning fans and finding supporters for your cause along the way, you WILL become a big success.

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36 thoughts on “Paying the Price For Your Dreams”

  1. Thanks for the great post! :)

    I agree not to quit halfway and focus to reach our goals. Sometimes things may not be the same or very different from what we want or planned. Just be strong and everything gonna be good again! Well, I believe we can quit from a plan, but never give up your dream! Find alternative plan to reach your goal and achieve your ultimate dream!


    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you Dennis. I once heard a saying that goes “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. Boy, have I made him laugh a lot over the years. I seem to be doing things that weren’t part of the original script that I wrote but for some weird reason, all the events in my history all seem to fit into a consistent pattern and lead to some sort of logical conclusion. I guess the lesson here is that we just have to have faith both in ourselves and in our dreams.

  2. Never quitting is the hardest part – you never know how far you’ve gone until you succeed, things start to look a little brighter and your doubts disappear. Because when you start off, you’re lonely, it’s like jumping into a pit without knowing if you’ll fall 2 or 2000 feet.

    Thanks for a great read.


    1. You’re welcome Jonathan. Sounds like you’ve been tested more than once. It feels pretty exhilarating and scary all at once doesn’t it to reach your physical or mental limits? And about that lonely road that you’re traveling… you’re absolutely right about not knowing how far it goes. Quitting is much easier… I just feel blessed to have people that have always believed in me over the years (my mother is tops on this list, haha). I hope you have those same supporters around you, too.

      1. This was somthing that i really needed to read. For a year and a half i’ve been an aspiring model trying to get signed to an agency. I’ve had my highs and most definatly my lows. Living in Indianapolis, Indiana makes everything so hard; but with the little oupportunities that are provided, I try my very best. My highest moment to date was when i almost won this modeling competition I enetered in, coming in as runner up. I could almost taste the victory, that is until reality hit me and I didn’t win. I went through a phase that took me for a spin. Hurt as i was, I started drinking accessively along with clubbing and even almost decided to do pornography. Something in my mind told me that I was better than that. I got on my computer and instantly typed my name “Khiry Clark” Indianapolis and there I was. That moment made me realize that I can go further with this. As of now I’ve still be going to auditions/castings, and not giving up. I was born to model; I can feel it. My heart, body, and mind tells me this.

        1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experiences Khiry. You’re a very brave person to be pursuing your dreams. Not everyone does. And many of those that do give up to soon. I’m glad you didn’t give in to the temptation to take any short cuts. Getting what you want can really be tough sometimes. Just keep hanging in there. And don’t forget to always seek the guidance and assistance of older and wiser people. They’ll help you get to where you want to go. As long as you pursue what’s truly in your heart and mind, you’ll never fail. Good luck!

      1. Thanks for sharing your feedback, Sonia. I’m glad you were inspired by my blog and also the comments that it generated. We’re all at different stages of our journey, and we can all certainly help each other move along faster (or easier) if we simply reach out to one another. Most people wouldn’t mind lending us a helping hand whenever we’re feeling stuck or doubtful or our own abilities to succeed.

  3. I absolutely love this post. I think we all meet the point in life there we are at a stand point where we can choose the secure path or the one of adventure and challenge. I have learnt myself how powerful it is to really step out of the comfort zone and start taking 100% action towards my dreams. Boy what a ride it has been and continues to be challenging. However since taking on my new journey what appeared to be initially impossible began to possible. One door closes to allow many to be opened. I shall continue my journey with unbridled enthusiasm and build my circle of supportive friends as you suggest. Thank you

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s easy to think that we’re all alone when we’re on that “road less traveled isn’t it”? The good news is that there will always be people around us to lend a helping hand. All they’re waiting for is for us to ask for their help. Good luck with your journey, Paul, and do let me know how it unfolds.

  5. Great post and I shared it on my Facebook page – I totally agree with you on taking risks. I have taken quite a few and for the last 3 years lived in different cities in the U.S. for only 2-4 months and I have had the most amazing adventures.

    I love this “gypsy” lifestyle and it opens your eyes to see that “people are good”….

    I love your story and you are a testimony to others that want to dream and take risks.

    I’m with you,

    1. So you’re an adventurer and risk-taker like me… Good for you Nancy. Isn’t it mind-blowing to be able to travel to and live in different places? You’re so fortunate to be able to go out of your comfort zone this often. Most people can only dream about doing what we’ve done. Thank you very much for sharing my post on Facebook. I hope you keep on enjoying more of those amazing adventures. Life’s too short to live in the quiet and safety of our comfort zones.

  6. Hi George,

    Great post! It was like reading a chapter in my own life. I am now pursuing my own passion to help others be their best through my coaching and training business and you are absolutely right when you say that once you know what you want to do, the resources fall into place. It is definitely important to tell people clearly what you are doing so they can help you and I’ve found that opportunities open up when you serve others with value. It is definitely tough when self-doubt creeps in but I’ve seen the fruits of keeping the faith. I am happy to know that I’m not alone in what sometimes seem like a very lonely journey.

  7. We’re definitely all in this together, and there’s no shortage of people who will be more than willing to join our cause. I’ve certainly been where you are more than once and there’s still bumps on the road every now and then on the way to my own dreams. But in the game of life, if’s those that never give up that do prevail. I believe you’ll get to where you want to be eventually, Robert, as long as you never lose faith or quit.

      1. Thanks again, Robert. Do let me know when your own book comes out. I’m pretty certain that’s something that’s going to happen sometime in your future. You’re a thought leader like me and I know that you’re also going to change the world in a very big way. Good luck with that and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

          1. You’re very welcome, sir. Want to know something even more exciting? As you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll start to attract a number of big name speakers and authors who’ll want to connect with YOU. Think about it… they’ll want to know who the up and comers are and they’ll be excited to discover someone like you. It’s mind-blowing once you see them start to follow you on Twitter and eventually take it offline to email. You’re definitely on your way, Robert. Glad to have gotten you on my radar screen.

    1. You’re absolutely right about that, Farouk. And the few people are willing to pay that steep price. Those that do are the ones that lead extraordinary lives. I’m glad my post inspired you. Have an excellent weekend, sir.

    1. That flash of inspiration will come, Katie. Just have faith that the cosmos or universe will reveal your true purpose. If you keep your eyes, ears and mind peeled for signs, these will come eventually. As they said, when the student is ready, the master will appear. You’re not alone… many others are also still waiting to find out what they were meant to be doing with themselves Their questions (like yours) will be answered. Good luck and keep me posted.

  8. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience which i find interesting and true on the journey towards the actualization of our dreams. This brings me to the fact that the world will only embrase you if and only when you succeed. You must belive in yourself and our dreams even when the world does not believe in you.

    The greatest gift in life aside life, is the gift of choice, so be sure to make the right choice at all times.

    Keep doing the good work. Bravo

    1. I appreciate your kind words, Irene. You’re absolutely right about each and every one of us having a choice to do whatever we want. The problem is that many of us allow our fears to overpower our dreams. People will say “I told you so” when you try and stumble or “I told you so” when you try and win. So it’s best to just go ahead and do what you feel is necessary rather than wait for everyone else’s approval. It really can feel lonely on the way to your dreams So you really do have to believe in yourself even when others don’t, as you pointed out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Interesting range of ideas.
    Perhaps for most, we struggle to find a a sense of equilibriam through the visual / verbal mindset. Being pigeon-holed can have its drawbacks, and, merits.

  10. I enjoyed this post and the story of your adventure. It was inspiring. It’s amazing how some people are paralyzed by the thought of change, even other people’s change! I have friends who are stunned that I’m putting my house on the market next month and leaving my teaching job to take a mini-retirement in Portland. I just turned 50 and realized that I’m not happy. My plan is to not work for 6-9 months and to pursue my many business ideas. I’ve been asked, “What are you running from?” My response is that “I’m running to!”
    Great post!

    1. That would be the typical reaction of people who are comfortably ensconced in their own little comfort zones. It’s a mixture of envy and awe so you just have to be more patient understanding with these types. These people can’t imagine themselves doing it, or anybody else for that matter, so it’s a typical knee jerk reaction. They do feel genuine concern, though, but they just don’t relate to what you’re doing the way a typical risk-taker (i.e. entrepreneurs, usually) would. So best to find like-minded people who can help pull you forward rather than pour cold water on your dreams the way non-risk takers would. You’re on to a good thing Jackie. Good luck with your plans and keep us all posted. And happy 50th birthday, by the way.

      1. I think people crave stability and question why one would walk away from that aspect of their life. A teaching job, in most cases, is stable. You get a pension and health care, a steady paycheck and a place to be every day, not to mention days off and vacations. What people don’t know about is the pressure the job presents. You have to deal with each child and their parent(s), possibly 90+ personalities, death, sickness, abuse, administration and a public and the media who blames you for test scores. You cannot control what happens in a child’s life because you don’t raise them or ensure proper pre-natal care, a proper home environment and parental involvement. I have about 5 1/2 hours to ensure that each student learns and that I close “the achievement gap”. It’s hard to do a job when you are told how to teach by those who have either never taught or who have limited classroom experience because they took the fast track to administration. It’s tough, there’s limited joy and I decided it’s just not for me anymore.

        Maybe I’ve watched Oprah enough that the mantra is “Live your best life” has finally sunk in and I’m on the path to doing just that.

        I’d rather work with animals or create lessons on a grander scale. I’d like to pusue my own dreams,travel, start my own businesses, be creative and just “be”.

        I think seeing so many friends pass away over the last 5 years, 8 in total and most were very young, has finally opened my eyes that life is too short to be unhappy and to not try and reach for your dreams and goals. Turning 50 really opened my eyes and my mind.

        Good luck to everyone in reaching their goals and following their dreams.

  11. You’re absolutely right about that Noch, Noch. Going after your dreams is not a bed of roses, especially during the first couple of years. That’s why it’s critical to have a team of supporters who can either lend you money or even finance you while you go full steam ahead. Otherwise, you may have to get a part-time job to fund your existence as you make your dreams happen. But take heart… help (and success) are already on their way. To quote the famous saying of Goethe, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Good luck and please let us all know how your life unfolds.

  12. Thank you for sharing more of your story, Jackie. I can certainly relate to what your saying. Not only did I own a school once, but my wife and I have been volunteer teaching 1x a week these last 10 years. Some parents expect you to be miracle workers while they do the bare minimum at home to help their kids. Thank goodness the administration is always behind us and refuses to pander to parents’ wishes.

    I’m pretty sure it can be tough to work under people who simply can’t relate to your struggles, especially if they haven’t been in the trenches themselves. I’m glad you had the strength to walk away from something that no longer gives you joy. Of course, most people that hold full time jobs can’t relate to what you just did. What they don’t realize is that there’s no longer any job security, so they’re actually taking the bigger risk by staying exactly where they are. Oh, well… that’s their choice isn’t it? You’ve made yours. I like your response about “not running away from” but “running to.” That’s a pretty powerful distinction which most people won’t ever understand in their current lifetimes.

    Good luck in this new phase of your life, Jackie. You certainly deserve to be happy and to live your best life.

  13. Hi…this article and comments are very encouraging and enlightning. I am in phase of life where I have to make one tuff decision to get married and settle in life or to follow my dream of a career and prince charming who is out there. Eveyone wants me to believe that just settling with anybody coz of my age and lack of acreer is the right option but its not what my heart says. I want to feel the freedom, emerge as an independent and confident woman and wait for a guy who is the real love of my life. I don’t know if Iwill really avhieve this but if I will leave my dream behind I will always cry over it no matter where I am. I need some support coz dats one more big thing I am lacking.

    1. Hi Tanvi,

      You’re a very brave person to consider walking away from something that many people would consider a “sure thing” (married life and “contented” bliss). No one on the planet has to settle for second best and that includes you. We all deserve to get what we want, especially that we have only one life to live and we rarely get second chances.

      Although you’re the only one who can decide whether to jump into marriage or hold out for something better, I am worried that if you do decide to choose marriage you might spend the rest of your life regretting what might (or could) have been. And that may haunt you forever. If you’re the type of person that can just accept your fate (getting married and setting your own dreams aside), then go and settle down. But you don’t seem to be this type of person. You seem to want to follow your passion and pursue your dreams and I encourage you to do so (or at least find a supportive partner who can accompany you on this journey – they are definitely out there somewhere) before you get married, start a family and buy a house. In matters of the heart, faith (and patience) is very important in finding the right partner. But also make sure that you are putting yourself out there and going to different places and doing all sorts of things to meet Mr. Right.

      Life is a big adventure, and you do need to live it with someone who shares your aspirations. And you definitely need to surround yourself with people who are not also just dreamers but who are also doers, too. Try and talk to parents of friends or acquaintances who are successful entrepreneurs or leaders in your community. In the U.S. there is even a retired group of businessmen ( whose responsibility is to mentor new businesspeople, or those aspiring to be one. Check out a Rotary club if there is one in your area. These groups will be composed of people who appreciate the value of risk, and of winning and losing.

      Good luck, Tanvi and do keep me posted on what your decision is.

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