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How Far Do You Follow The Impossible Dream?

following a dreamOne of my guilty pleasure shows is The Voice on NBC. Even though the show hasn’t really produced huge stars outside of the country artists, it’s still fun to watch. I’ve never been interested in American Idol or most talent shows on TV, but there is something about The Voice. Maybe it’s the big spinning chairs, but I’ve watched just about every season that has aired so far. One thing that sort of bothers me, though, is how many of the contestants seem to have families or have left behind something solid to pursue a music career. I’m all about making your dream happen, but how far do you go to pursue the impossible dream?

Drop Out of School For a Dream?

I remember one contestant from a few seasons ago who dropped out of medical school to be on The Voice. Another time, there was a mother/daughter duo whose family had sold their home so that they could perform and travel. This year, one of the hopefuls is a gentleman whose wife is currently pregnant with their 6th child. I’m not sure how much if anything you get paid to be on a reality TV show, but I’m sure it’s not much. Even if you win, there is certainly no guarantee of  a steady income, let along being the next Beyonce.

Then you have people like Jared Leto, who just won an academy award. In his acceptance speech, he talked about being raised by a single mother who encouraged him to always follow his dream. Statistically, he had almost no chance of reaching the level of fame that he has achieved, but dreams do come true sometimes.

Also, with the Olympics that just wrapped, up, you have tons of examples of what can happen with those who don’t follow the beaten path. If you saw the new skiing slopestyle competition, you might remember Gus Kenworthy who won the silver medal. He actually got more press from trying to save some of the Sochi stray dogs, so much so that his picture was on the cover of People magazine.

Gus is from Telluride, and although I don’t personally know him, I casually know his mother. His high school principal is now one of Jim’s bosses and he was telling us about Gus’ decision to go pro. He came into the principal’s office during his junior year of high school, right as his career as a professional athlete was starting to take off. He said he had decided to drop out of school because he needed to travel and focus on training. (This kid is as good as his image because he ended up coming back before his class was set to graduate and did two years of classes in a few months to get his diploma on time with his peers.) Even if he hadn’t gotten the diploma, he obviously made the right choice to focus on his athletic career because he made the Olympic team and got on the metal podium, but how on earth could you let your kid drop out of high school for an impossible dream?

What if My Child Has an Impossible Dream?

I think my daughter is awesome, but so far, she hasn’t show any outstanding talent in athletics or arts. In a way, this makes me happy. I’m not sure I could make the sacrifices some parents make in pursuit of a dream. The odds are so slim, and I am a very practical person. Although, if you are young and single, I guess have the gift of time when chasing a dream. You can always do something different if it doesn’t work out. At least you know you tried.

On the other hand, I kind of think that if you are an adult, especially with a family, you maybe need to stop chasing an impossible dream and find a way to pay the bills.  If I was pregnant with my 6th child and we had to uproot so my husband could move to Hollywood to be on a reality show, I think I’d revolt. I do know people who are not famous, but make a living as professional musicians. It’s a hard life with travel and variable income, but maybe no more so that someone who owns his or her own business and has to devote tons of hours to make it run. Still, I’d feel better if my husband was at work in a regular J-O-B instead of traveling around in a van doing shows at bars and reservation casinos, hoping for that big break.

How would you feel if your child or spouse dropped everything to follow an impossible dream? Have you ever left something stable to pursue something crazy?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Dominici

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. My daughter takes her violin class every Tuesday morning and sometimes I can feel that she want to gave up, but I keep pushing her. I know this is her dream that she wants to become a good violinist.

    • I really wish I knew how to plan in instrument. We might try some sort of music lessons with our daughter at some point. We certainly haven’t pursued it yet.

  2. Great post. I am currently going after a dream of mine. I’m leaving my job to do it, but so far the dream has let me make enough money to sustain our lifestyle, pay our bills, and have some extra money in our savings. I’m feeling good about the decision because it’s been paying off. I wouldn’t do it, however, if I didn’t have the proof that I could make something out of it.

    • That’s awesome that you are making your dream happen. I would also have to know I could support myself before leaving a steady thing. I’m too practical for most crazy dreams!

  3. As a professional actress I can attest that it’s tough to follow your dream, but there is also a difference between becoming a star and having a career. I know many people in theatre who are not famous, nor do they want to be, but they work steadily doing what they love to do. Sure, there are unique challenges (especially when you consider how unpredictable the travel is in the field), but there are challenges with any job.

    • There really aren’t any actors I know personally, but I do know a few professional musicians who are not famous, but make a decent living. I would not be able to handle all the travel or crazy hours, but I am not artistic either. I’m sure my job would be torture to someone who was.

  4. I LOVE the Voice too, especially the blind auditions because you hear all of these stories of struggle and heart ache that gets these singers to this point. I love the euphoria when chairs turn, but then I am equally saddened after hearing about the struggles when no chairs turn. My son is only 8, but if he felt passionate about something and wanted to put in the effort and sacrifice to achieve it, then I would support him. It is better to try and fail because you learn so much in the process than not take any risks in life.

    • I’m sure they play a lot of it up for TV. It seem they all have a story. I guess you probably do if you work so hard in an industry where the percentage of success is pretty low.

  5. My daughter tried out for X-Factor last Spring. She has plenty of talent and made it through several cuts. She and my wife sat in a room with one lady who eventually made it to the finals. In the end many people with far less talent made it on the show simply because they were odd and would hold an audience’s attention.

    There is no shortage of teenage girls dreaming of becoming a pop music star. She is enrolled in several honors classes in High School, and pointing out how the extra work cuts into her time to practice her music.

    We are opting to support her dream. The window of opportunity closes very quickly.

    • That must be really exciting but also a roller coaster ride as well. I can’t imagine seeing my child be criticized or rejected like you must have to deal with is that industry. I guess it builds character.

  6. I like The Voice too and it just feels a lot “nicer” than some of the other reality competition shows. The judges genuinely do seem to like each other and care about their teams. Anyway, that’s a tough call. I think a lot of pros and cons would have to be weighed. I remember when Gabby Douglas was in the Olympics and they featured her story where her mom let her live with a family in Idaho (I think) because her mom could not afford to take her career to the next level. I think she had possibly already gone bankrupt…something like that. Since I don’t want kids, I’d say if my spouse wanted to chase a crazy dream, a lot of plan b’s would have to be put in place and discussions to be had. I’d hate to ever hold someone back from chasing their dreams.

  7. We have very close friends who have a 10 year old who is really working hard to make it to the Olympics for gymnastics. The time she puts in is more than some put in for their day jobs and Nicole and I don’t really question them about it, but do think it would be tough to do something like that. I think as you get older and have a family doing something like that becomes much more difficult, obviously, and think I’d feel similarly to you in regards to picking up and going after something “crazy”. I think it’s important to have and follow dreams, but feel there needs to be balance to that as you get older and have more responsibility.

    • We are having a hard enough time trying to decide whether to do summer swim team, which is 4 hours a week. I don’t think I could handle the level of dedication required to raise an Olympian.

  8. I am a pessimist or realist if you wish to call it that. I believe that there is nothing wrong with chasing the impossible dream, but you need to have back up plans. Have something to fall back on just in case you don’t reach your dream. Not everyone will, so make sure you have a contingency plan.

    • I have no talents, but if I did, I think I could give myself a two year window and then I’d have to do something more practical.

  9. I think everyone should take a shot at their dream, but not without a Plan B. If you are neglecting your family and shirking your responsibilities in the name of the dream, it’s gone too far. Have passion, pursue your dream, just don’t be an idiot about it.

  10. I think about this sometimes as I do want to be a parent one day. I wasn’t pushed into anything by my parents… they were the type to be like “do you want to do this anymore?” and being a 6 or 9 year old who had no idea of the future, I’d say I didn’t want to. I get the desire to give your kids the option to do or not do a sport or activity, especially if it costs money to the parents, but at the same time, I understand first hand what happens when a parent doesn’t push and/or support their kid in a energy intensive artistic/sporting endeavor. Had my parents been the more pushy type and started me younger, I could have been a soccer superstar (lol, not really but you never know!). As such, I totally understand the desire of parents to push and support their kids to follow their dreams because perhaps like me, they were never really pushed to do so by their own parents. Not dissing my parents… they were super supportive and awesome! I just wish they were more hard on me about following a certain artistic or sporting passion.

    • My parents pushed me academically, so I’m grateful for that. I think if your kid shows a special talent, it’s fine to push, but if they had tried to make me a professional singer or dancer, no amount of training or lessons would have worked.

  11. I don’t have a strong opinion either way. With that being said, there is chasing impossible dreams and there is thinking about chasing impossible dreams. I would bet that most of the people I know think they will be rich or “make it” some day from some obscure thing happening, but in reality they aren’t doing everything they can to make that dream a reality. It’s like with blogging. I personally know hundreds of people who would love to make some extra money through blogging. They make excuses, though, and never get started. But in terms of The Voice and other things like that, I think there is a very short time period where you can realistically pursue that line of work (I’d say 30 is a good ‘cut-off’ number). So I really wouldn’t blame my children for pursuing a dream in their teen and 20-something years. With that being said, if I successfully get a start-up launched in my 30s I would hope my wife would support me quitting my job/career to pursue it (my personal dream haha).

    • A successful start up is a bit different than quitting your job to start a singing career. At least you’d have something to fall back on though. People who spend 10 years trying to be famous probably don’t.

  12. Everyone should have realistic goals and expectations. Know what you are good at, and pursue the dream. But know how much the dream is worth is you finally get it. And never sacrifice your basic well being or morals to achieve something.

    Here in America, anyone can be a millionaire if they try. For some, they might have to try harder than others, but t can be done. I have done it, and I was born on the poor side of the tracks.

  13. Oh gosh, I feel really bad for people who would go to such lengths (like sell their house or quit med school) for the chance to be a pop star. It’s a one in a million chance to even get there, and I personally could never risk everything for something like that. But that also won’t stop me from also watching those types of shows 🙂

    • I love to watch, but I was so agreeing with the guy with 3 kids tonight who thought maybe it was time to start supporting his family with a steady job.

  14. Good post, i certainly see what you are getting at and agree with it in parts BUT

    Granted it is intended as opinion and conversation starter – The post borders on being inspiring before ending with a crashing ‘BUT’. There’s no doubt leaving a job when you are completely broke, with kids to feed in order to pursue a singing career is maybe not the best option. in this circumstance, maybe a compromise would be better.

    I think the mention of YOU feeling better about your husband doing what YOU want, is what bugs me as it misses the point completely. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

    Since you asked: I left my job,career, absolutely everything to spend my savings on riding a bicycle around the world – the best decision I ever made and one that was difficult to go through with having heard so many BUTs from every man and his dog before hand.

    i do hope you take the comment as genuine opinion , I like your style 😉


    • I do believe that sometimes dreams can come true, but it’s much easier to follow them as a younger person without a family. If my husband told me he was quitting his job tomorrow and draining his 401k to travel the world while I stayed home with the kid, I would not be very understanding at all, but maybe that’s just my personality. He would never do that, so I guess it’s good we are together! Maybe if we both were more adventurous and less pragmatic, we’d want to do something like that, but it’s not us I guess. Thanks for sharing.

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