Do Something Irresponsible

I sat quietly in a mall somewhere in Nashville a few weeks ago and looked at my ringing cell phone. The call I had been waiting for.


The guy’s name was Kevin – I had never spoken to him before, but a shared friend had connected us, thought we should talk. And as I heard Kevin’s story, I could only nod my head in commiseration.

He was a teacher and his wife was 20-weeks pregnant with their first child. They had just purchased their first home. And then, a few weeks ago, he received news that would change the course of his life: due to budgetary cuts, his contract would not be renewed in the fall.

But he’s a great writer, and he’s trying to figure out what to do, which way to go.

“So what do you think?” he asked me. “You made a similar leap. Do you think I can make it full time as a writer?”

* * * * *

During an early leg of our trip, we spent time with some awesome friends of ours. At one point, the conversation turned to serious things, and they asked me the sort of question that only close friends can ask, the kind of question that simultaneously challenges your direction in life but also makes you thankful that you have friends who can ask tough questions.

“Do you ever worry that by encouraging people to chase their dreams, you’re actually encouraging someone to do something irresponsible?”

I thought about it for a moment, then shook my head.

“Not really,” I said. “Sure, there are folks that need to be reminded to be sensible, people who make really unwise decisions. But most people I know need to do something irresponsible. The majority of those in our generation rely so much on comfort and predictability that there’s no room for God to do something exciting in their life.”

Our discussion went long into the night.

* * * * *

I took a deep breath.

“Sheesh, Kevin, what can I say?”

He laughed.

“I’m not asking you to make the decision for me,” he said. “I mean, I kind of am…”

We both laughed.

* * * * *

It’s so much easier for me to put my own life on the line, to make high-risk decisions, and to deal with the consequences. But I live a life that, in many ways, I could not in good conscience recommend to someone else unless I know them very well. To whom would I recommend a life of chasing your dreams, a risky life, a potentially uncomfortable life?

– To those who understand their worst-case scenario and are comfortable moving forward knowing that it may very well come to pass

– To those who put a margin for error in place and then stick with it. For me personally, if I ever get to the place where I have finished my projects and have no more income, then I will get a “real job.” I won’t hang on to my dream long after it’s withered, to the detriment of my family. That’s my margin. Know yours.

– To those who have supportive family or friends or a spouse willing to join you on the adventure.

– To those who have a plan and have already proven to themselves that they can make money doing what they love to do. If you want to make a living as a photographer, don’t quite your day job until you’ve made some money as a photographer. If you want to make a living as a writer, don’t resign from your day job until you’ve actually had someone pay you for your writing. Start leaning in the direction of your passion before you  make the leap.

* * * * *

So I watch my friend Kevin eagerly, waiting to see how things will work out for him. He’s made some good moves so far. One of them is writing an E-book which releases today, a book called, An Idiot’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s funny. It’s clever. And it’s free.

Supporting someone who is chasing their dream was never any easier than this. Upload your free version HERE.

* * * * *

What’s the difference between chasing your dream and simply being irresponsible?

9 Replies to “Do Something Irresponsible”

  1. Such a good question, Shawn. I suppose you have to weigh the risks and rewards. When I was figuring out if I should quit my job last spring, I knew it was no longer emotionally or physically healthy for me to continue working there but I wasn’t sure what else I could do that would pay the bills. So I’m nannying to pay the bills, while I move toward writing. I enjoy both and am so much healthier as a result. In a lot of ways, it was an easy decision for me to make because I’m financially independent (and had a decent safety net when I quit) and I don’t have a family to consider. The biggest source of encouragement for me was how many people (including you) cheered me on when I made my decision and how many writing opportunities fell into my lap after I took the first step of faith. Will any of this be enough to parlay into a full-time writing career? I don’t know right now but I do know I’m headed in the right direction.

  2. I think the answer depends on several questions. All of which need to have good answers.
    1. Are you single or married (kids?)?

    2. Do you have a support system (plan B) if you need it?

    3. Who are you serving? Is it yourself, God or others?

    4. How long can you actually make it on your own if you don’t have any income from your dream?

    5. What’s your gut feeling on it all?

    That’s my answer. I first wanted to say the difference between pursuing your dream and being irresponsible is just a matter of perspective, but I think that’s a bit too open-ended and not entirely true.

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