Following Your Dream

Tough choices VS probabilities, risks, and rewards

This autumn marked 24th anniversary of my teaching career. I never noticed the exact moment when learners started turning to me not only for technical knowledge – but also for more important questions like career or life changing advices.

Few months ago, I had a learner who successfully completed the first year of his degree in programming. He worked towards it for one year, invested lots of efforts, and spent 20k – only to realise that his head and heart are in the wrong place. He came across another course – Degree in Computer Art and 3D Modelling, and faced a tough choice.

In his own time, he self-mastered basics of Computer Art and started drawing futuristic vehicles using proper 3D modelling software. He showed me some of his sketches. I am not an easy one to impress – but I said WOW. He created very impressive designs – not only attractive and good-looking, but also very professional ones. If I was working in HR, I would hire this guy immediately – he was real rare gem, and I am sure he will design few cars of the future. Without any shadow of a doubt, it was easy to imagine that in few years’ time his designs will carry BMW, Mercedes, or Tesla logo.

But now he faced life-changing choice. He could continue down the programming route: and I am sure he would have completed it – but he knew he would not feel satisfied and fulfilled. Therefore, he would not be happy even if he managed to get highly paid job. Another alternative was to admit that circumstances changed forever, and his old route, being «the right choice» back then – is not viable any more.

The first choice carried very little risk but also very little reward – and with time that «reward» could become toxic. The second route looked very attractive, as he realised that this is the passion he always wanted to pursue. However, this choice also carried huge risks and responsibility burden.

Too many things were at stake. First of all, switching to the degree of his dream would mean rolling back one year in his career, and losing one year of his life. Second, he would lose 20k in tuition fees plus all the efforts he already put into it. Even worse, the first year of the Computer Arts degree was covering very basic things, which he already knew – so it would be complete waste of time for him. So effectively, he would be losing two years of his life, career, efforts, and money. Your dream does not look so attractive when you take all of those into consideration – especially when success is hazy and not guaranteed.

Having seen his true talent, the difficult decision he was facing was very obvious to me. However, you cannot give life changing advices to someone you literally know few hours. Even though people say «Life is too important to take it seriously», this one was very big decision for him – and I could not take responsibility of giving the advice at this level.

What I did instead – I shared my own story and my own tough choice I faced 17 years ago. How I spent two year to get a place and scholarships to start PhD in London University, then put further four years of my life and efforts into it – only to drop it with zero result at the end. I was brought up as a super mega responsible child – and dropping out of London Uni did not fit that profile at all. However, I wanted to tell him about tough choice I made back then. It was a very difficult decision – but as time has shown, it was the very right one.

This morning I received phone call from him. Personal contacts with learners on private number are usually to be avoided – but on this occasion, it was worth it. He called me to share the result of his tough choice. His voice was so excited that I did not immediately understand what is going on.

He showed his sketches to the admission team. Like me, they were so impressed with his work and talent, that offered place at their University straight away. They even offered him scholarship to cover part of the tuition fees – something he did not expect but accepted as a nice bonus (as not every student from Romania is a millionaire).

Moreover, having seen his grades from the Computing Degree, they agreed to accept it – and he was admitted directly to the second year. Just so that you understand: British universities very rarely accept credits from another university – like never. So not only he did not lose a year of his life and his career – but he also did not lose 20k he was prepared to write off. Moreover, he also skipped the boring part of the first year, jumping immediately into the course of his dream pretty much straight away. Puzzle clicked together in the best way possible – something he could not even dream about.

He thanked me because he believed that I helped him to make this choice. However, in reality, he made that choice subconsciously – without even realising it. I simply provided pair of free ears – but the choice was made by his dream.

Following your dream always carries risks, tough choices, and – inevitably – sacrifices. What do you get in return? Uncertainty. Plus hope. Future never guarantees success. In fact, it never guarantees anything – as we simply do not know how many days we have. Some of us are afraid of changes and stay where they are. However, for some of us it is a risk worth taking – because your dreams might come true.

(с) masterofsql