How much money should you invest into a dream?
If you could go back in time to have a conversation with your 13 year old self, what would that conversation sound like? Perhaps you'd warn yourself to stay away from a relationship that would turn toxic. Maybe you'd plead with yourself not to pick up that first drink. On the positive side, you might try coaxing your teen self to not abandon music lessons, try harder on the track or study more.
What were the dreams you had at 13? Did you want to be a pro ball player? Maybe you'd aspired to be an actor. Your years of dance lessons would surely lead you to a contract with a respected dance company, you may have thought.
It may have been restlessness, lack or resources, or some external force that led you to put that dream aside. Now, in adulthood, as you look at the years ahead, do you find yourself once again wondering what place there is for those dreams that had been put upon a shelf?
There are some dreams that will have to remain dreams. A woman in her 60s will likely not become a prima ballerina. A man in his 50s isn't going to get a contract to play with the Yankees. Age will unfortunately play a huge factor in whether you can succeed (professionally) at your dream. Lest I leave you with a feeling of doubt and discouragement, know that there are great benefits in pursuing a dream for your personal satisfaction. More on that later.
For those of us whose ambitions may be less age restrictive, it's conceivable that given enough time, money, hard work and connections, that dream (or some part of it anyway) may still have opportunity to flourish.
So now comes the part where we have to assess how much of an investment we could or should make in pursuing that dream. I wish there were a magical number. Let's say it's $5,000. You could invest in education up to that point, but know there is no value in going beyond. Perhaps it's lessons from a master chef or concert pianist. If you succeed before you've invested 5 grand, you're golden! Dance coaches and costumes, acting lessons, pilot school--these are all costly endeavors. Unfortunately we don't have a universal number against which to measure the value of pursuing that dream.
When you consider any type of investment, you must count the cost and weigh the risk. Some investments are certainly riskier than others. If pursing your dream is putting your family's security at risk, that should be a red flag warning. If continuing your lessons or education will put you into debt, it would be prudent to seek council from someone who you know will be honest with you. Are you spending so much time on your personal purists that you are neglecting your spouse and children? If so, you are entering dangerous territory.
Back to the group of dreamers who have a passion that won't result in a career change. What of them and their cost? Let's say you've always loved flamenco and taking lessons gives you great joy and personal satisfaction. Is $100 per month a worthy investment into having a happy heart and healthier body? You know you won't become a golf pro, but those lessons that improve your swing ensure you are in the game for many years to come. That time spent with friends is a highlight of your week. Does the cost matter?
These are questions that must be answered by the individual based on their income and expectations. There isn't a firm line that reads "do not cross". However, if your investment of either time or money is causing stress, it's time to consult with a trusted advisor.
For me, my dream has been scaled down pretty dramatically from the aspirations that once filled my 13 year old head. However, even in its "reduced form" it still can be costly. I desire to have a successful podcast; not just one that is financially viable, but one that serves a purpose helping others. Tangible costs include a website, software and equipment (yes, I know there are cheap ways to do this, but my goal is professional quality). I recently invested in a broadcast quality microphone. Until I can invest the time needed to begin the process of podcasting, it's just a very costly paperweight.
So, in close, I'm sorry if you feel cheated that I haven't given a number against which to gauge your "dream investing". I'd be happy to talk with you about personal situations you are facing and decisions that need to be made. Feel free to leave me a comment about your dream and the cost associated. Perhaps an outside perspective will give you that push you need to make a choice one way or the other. Keep dreaming my friends. Just be aware of where you left your wallet as you do.