Don’t Give Up On Your Entrepreneurial Dreams

How a movie taught me when a salary is really a bribe

A stuffy office somewhere in corporate America. Two men facing each other, both probably in their 50s — one dressed in a fitted suit, one in a rather unspectacular shirt and tie.

The situation seems tense — Bob, the guy in shirt and tie is about to be let go from his job, and naturally, he’s not excited.


Then Ryan, the guy in the suit turns the conversation with just a few simple words:

“How much did they first pay you to give up on your dreams?”

The conversation is fictional, it’s a scene from the 2009 movie “Up in the Air”, starred by George Clooney. Nevertheless, it’s been on the back of my mind ever since watching the movie ten years ago.

Many people dream of becoming entrepreneurs when they are growing up. And then they get sucked into the vortex of a normal career once the promise of a big paycheck is dangled in front of them.

“I’ll only do it for a couple of years, then I’ll start my business.”
“It’s basically a stepping stone into entrepreneurship.”
“My startup idea isn’t good enough.”

I’ve heard excuses like these many times, in fact, I’ve spoken them myself.

Instead of pursuing an entrepreneurial path, as I’d always wanted to, I took a corporate job right out of college.

Now, there’s nothing wrong per se with a corporate job. And for many people, it is exactly the right path. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, and not everyone should be.

However, if like me, you’ve long felt a desire to do your own thing, be your own boss and create a business on your own, you shouldn’t let yourself be bribed into giving up on your dreams with a nice salary and some fancy extras.

After I took the corporate path, I quickly realized I was on the wrong path. In fact, the words from “Up in the air” were ringing in my head, so only eight months after I joined, I quit.

I gave up a nice salary, I gave up a fancy corporate car, I gave up exciting business class trips around the world.
But I won a lot more, and I haven’t regretted it even once since.

Maybe you’re sitting in a corporate office right now. You’ve climbed up the ladder over the past years, making a good salary, living a good life. But deep down inside you, you sense that one day you’ll regret you didn’t break out. Ask yourself that question:
How much did they first pay me to give up on my dreams?

Possibly you can’t put a price tag on it. Maybe you don’t feel you gave up on your dreams, your dreams have evolved and are different from the ones you had when you were younger. That’s fine.

If you do decide to stick with a corporate career, do it for the right reasons. Salary can be one reason, but it should never be the major, or even worse, the only reason.

If, however, that question creates even the slightest feeling of regret or you believe you will one day have to answer that question to yourself, you better start thinking about making a change now.

Change doesn’t have to come aggressively, you don’t have to quit your job tomorrow, you don’t have to mindlessly leave your current path. However, you can start imagining what an alternative reality to your current situation might look like. One where you are doing what you once dreamed of.

In the movie, Ryan calls Bob's situation a “rebirth”. Don’t let your dreams slip so far away from you that you will one day need this. Don’t give up on your entrepreneurial dreams.

Entrepreneur building a new stealth startup by day. Aspiring writer and curious thinker by night.

Entrepreneur building a new stealth startup by day. Aspiring writer and curious thinker by night.