The #1 Addiction That is Killing Your Dreams Each Day

Michael Leonard
The Post-Grad Survival Guide
7 min readMar 29, 2018


As you get older do you ever feel that the real world kills your ambitions, hopes, and dreams?

I left the corporate world almost a year ago and can’t believe how alive I feel now that I’m not stuck in a cubicle. Each day feels like another opportunity to do something great. I no longer have to dread waking up and drag myself to work. Now that I’ve been “out” for almost a year I realize how much the 9–5 and golden handcuffs were slowly killing my dreams.

If I didn’t get out when I did, call it a 30-year-old “life crisis” I’m not sure I ever would have.

Let me explain…

Looking back I was always an entrepreneur but just didn’t know it yet.

At age 10 I would burn CD’s for my friends and sell them for $3-$5 at school (back in the Napster days). Are you proud Gary Vee?

By the time I was 14 I was buying Lacoste T-shirts from China in bulk and selling them individually on eBay and making a killing.

By age 16 I was buying and selling golf clubs from garage sales and people who couldn’t use the internet on Ebay.

College I really hustled. I worked with a friend who was a nightclub promoter to run party bus and nightclub events. I made a few hundred bucks and got to party for free… just living the dream.

Then, I graduated college, got a great job, and lost my hustle!

How come? Where had my skills gone?

They weren’t gone entirely….I worked in sales so I still had some hustle but I didn’t have the drive I once used to have.

What happened!?

I’ll tell you what happened, a good paying salary.

Salary = comfort zone!

Comfort Zone = Death of your Dreams

After college I got a real job and was making $40,000 per year, full benefits, insurance and fully stocked kitchens— needless to say I felt rich.

Every two weeks I had a good amount of money in my bank account and didn’t have a huge “need” to really hustle anymore. I was content with the money from a single source of income.

My hustle stayed with me for a while and became a top performer. Each year I received raises of 10–15% and sometimes stock bonuses. At this point I was very content working my eight hours and watching TV at night. Why hustle, I was doing fine….

Sound familiar?

Being fully dependent on your consistent, easy paycheck is a risky bet.

What if something happens to your job or the company you work for?

It’s also risky in that it can make you forget who you are because you get comfortable.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something NEW.” — Brian Tracy

Here are my tips on how to avoid complacency, use your paycheck to help invest in yourself and find your passions:

Don’t Settle

It’s really hard NOT to settle once you are making good (or even decent) money at a comfortable job.

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of Black Swan) said,

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

Yikes, that’s a bit drastic…or is it?

Everyone knows heroin is one of the worst and most addictive drugs out there — duh. Carbs are amazing and it’s why we are addicted to pizza, pasta, and loaded fries. But too many carbs and your weight will eventually increase.

But a monthly salary? Is it really addictive? Is it the hardest of all to break?

Maybe not as addictive as heroin (haven’t tried), but letting a salary control your life can kill your dreams.

A monthly salary can kill your creativity, make you a zombie for eight hours a day, and leave you completely unfulfilled.

I know so many people who are “stuck” in life because of their salary. They’ve created a life based around it and can’t leave unless they go somewhere with similar pay.

I am not hating on people who have a job or work their ass off. A job or career provides money, insurance benefits and a lot of security.

But when was the last time you felt really challenged after being at a company for a few years?

Do you work for money, passion, or both?

Everything I’ve read says that roughly 80% of people are going to a job that they hate every single day. Would you agree?

In my previous life, it was all about money, money, money. I always thought if I made more I would be happier…which was true… to a point.

But one fear kept popping up over and over again. Luckily, this fear made me wake up and look at life differently.

The fear was: What if I ended up sitting at a desk doing something I didn’t care about for the rest of my life? What if I was too big of a coward to not go after my passions and dreams?

That fear, or nightmare at times, was the reason I ultimately quit the corporate world for the unknown of professional golf and entrepreneurship.

I was on track to make well over $100,000 but for the first time in my professional career but I made a choice to ignore the money. It’s not easy to walk away from a job that you’re good at and make over six figures.

My former, 21-year-old self would be appalled that I would turn down this kind of money. Most of my twenties I only focused solely on making money to keep buying things I didn’t need.

It was always a “more” mentality. How could I earn more? More. More.

Sound familiar?

But by 28 I was starting to realize that more money wasn’t necessarily the answer. I was lacking fulfillment.

As Tony Robbins said, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.”

Don’t get me wrong, money is one of the most important factors in everyone’s life but there will come a point where more money simply won’t be the answer.

I quit my job without any money coming in but a lot of cash saved — I don’t recommend this for most people. Instead, ask yourself, are you working for the money or do you love what you do for work?

If it’s only for the money start diversifying your income by starting a side hustle…think of it as a backup plan.

Explore Your Passions Before Making the Leap

One thing I’ve heard from people is that they think I am promoting people to quit their job. I am NOT doing that… well not for everyone at least.

If you’re fulfilled, like going to work, enjoy your coworkers and have your finances in order congrats. I am super happy for you. Very few people do what they love or at least even like what they are doing.

Others have a family, too much debt, or other obligations so they can’t quit immediately.

Instead, take advantage of your salary to spend time outside of work trying new ideas, hustles, and investing in yourself.

Whether it’s starting a podcast, an online store, Youtube channel, or blog. If you have a consistent salary you are able to spend some money and take risks since you know you’ll get paid again soon.

This is what I did before I quit by spending my salary investing in myself, trying a few side hustles (but not enough) and researching new ones.

Once you decide what hustle, project, or investment in yourself you want to make I recommend setting a goal to stay consistent.

Set Side Hustle Goals

One of the reasons I stopped my “side hustle mentality” was because I didn’t have specific goals.

My career was paying the bills and letting me save at least 15% each month so I wasn’t worried. What I should have done was set goals for monthly side hustles to use for bigger life goals.

For example, looking back I would have set goals like these:

  • Make $1,000 flipping items on Craigslist to pay for a 3-day vacation
  • Earn $2,000 from freelance writing to help fund a down payment on a car
  • Make $500 a month from my blog to reinvest in myself with courses, seminars, and books

Setting goals, financially or otherwise, are one of the most consistent habits of successful people.

“Vague goals get vague results.” — Jack Canfield

What Will You Do?

Simply put, don’t let your day job kill your dreams.

Use your monthly salary, bonuses, commissions, or tax refund to help find your passion, start a side hustle or invest in yourself.

All of these will get you closer to finding work you actually love to do and probably increase your happiness dramatically.

Start saving, earning more with side hustles, set goals and believe in yourself.

If you’ve noticed your hustle, entrepreneurial edge or whatever you call it has faded it might be time to evaluate what you are doing. Don’t keep accepting raises to stay at a job you don’t love.

Life is too short to be miserable. Get comfortable in your own skin, make a plan, execute it, and make your life happen.

Don’t chase the paper, chase your dreams!

If you liked this story, feel free to 👏👏👏 a few times (Up to 50 times — thanks!)

Call to Action

I‘ve created a success cheat sheet to help YOU take your life to the NEXT LEVEL. Learn the top 5 habits of the most successful people so you can see unbelievably results as well.

Get the Success Cheat Sheet here!



Michael Leonard
The Post-Grad Survival Guide

Golf writer, host of Wicked Smart Golf Podcast, and mental golf coach. Quit $100K career in 2017 to write & golf.