A couple of weeks ago, I engaged in a talk with the students of NEHU (North-Eastern Hill University) in Shillong and spoke to them about ‘living your dream and why we idolise it’. The open-ended talk focussed on two things: first that we have enough time, space and resources to actualise our dreams. And second that there is no shortcut or luck to achieve it but only through pure hard work.

In an unconnected series of events, last week I watched the Hindi film Tamasha. One of the many ideas in the film that director Imtiaz Ali brings out is how we shun our childhood dreams (or inner voice) to grow up and live a life otherwise coerced on us. By his definition, this is a regular 9-to-5 job. However, after much self-conflict the protagonist eventually listens to his heart and becomes what he had aspired for (in this case a performing artiste).

My problem with Tamasha and this whole tamasha (celebratory show) of ‘go live your dream’ campaign around the world is that no one tells you how hard you have to work for it.

In the film, we’re sporadically shown montages of the protagonist doing what he loves. In real life, these montages span up to decades and cost us our best years of life and relationships.

So, if, like me, you want to quit your job, follow your bliss, travel the world, etc., please put on shoes that allow you to climb as well as add friction as you slide down. Because there are plenty of those in the road ahead.

Sitting on the fence?
Sitting on the fence?

Hard work

Be prepared to slog it out. Every day.

I am a believer of hard work. The harder I work, the luckier I get. On an average, I work 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Even when I am travelling, I work.

I don’t propose that this is the only way to do what you believe in, but we get smarter if we work hard. We’re around to recognise when opportunities open up for us. There seems to be a well-balanced correlation between working hard, opportunities and getting warmer to our aspirations.

Also, doesn’t success taste sweeter when it’s coupled with hard work? Earning that byline in a publication or securing a year-long assignment as a freelancer, definitely made me celebrate my decision.

Read: The Envious Life of a Travel Writer


While I work to reintroduce perseverance back in my life, I have realised that time is an imperative factor in the life of the newly self-employed. This works two ways: patience to see results and deadlines to evaluate direction.

It is a cycle of trial and errors. Giving myself the time to make mistakes and learn from them has been a crucial part of this career path. I have to admit, I am not very kind to myself. Thankfully some friends have thrown light on this aspect and made me realise that some things will go (embarrassingly) wrong and I will have to accept it.

What is passion without direction? Deadlines are a great way to assess where we stand and what our aspirations truly mean. The operative word here is ‘realistic’. I had set a realistic deadline of December 2015 to write for at least five big print publications in India and make a certain amount of money every month from my freelance work. Else, I reconsider immediately.

My first report card. By November that year, I secured a B in writing.
My first report card. By November that year, I secured a B in writing.


This is a defining aspect of working for yourself. Rejections are a part of life and thankfully I was introduced to them much earlier in life. If we don’t know how to accept ‘no’ for an answer, it’ll be wise to keep our job.

As a freelancer, we sell brand ‘self’ and there are times when no one identifies with our ideas. Not taking it personally and getting  back into the game, always helps. It is healthy to work harder, identify the problem areas, accept, learn and pursue. If we’re self-driven and polite, half of the problems are taken care of.

Social media has become an integral part of our professional (and personal) lives. Here everyone assumes that their opinion matters. And even though I encourage feedback, I am non-responsive to personal attacks. This form of tangential rejection also needs to be tactfully handled.


It’s easier to say than live financially stormy days. Since I have quit my job, the lowest my bank account has touched is ₹89. And I wasn’t prepared for this. But what it taught me was immense and I am certain I will never see such low figures in my account again.

Managing money has been tough for me, especially since I was solely dependent on my freelance writing. Having diversified my work now and secured two long-term projects, I am somewhat comfortable.

Earning as a freelancer is always unpredictable, especially for the initial years. Knowing our market value, not underestimating or overrating work and negotiating smartly for our time and work is essential.

Results are seasonal, just like Rhododendrons.
Results are seasonal, just like Rhododendrons.


I met this one only recently. And when I did, it made me work better.

Be kind to yourself. When you do get something right— take a day off, buy your favourite collection of books, go out for an indulgent evening, sleep for another six hours—whatever your heart deserves. You’ll remember how special you felt and experience the power of motivation and hard work.

Read: One Year of Quitting My Job to Travel

What are your thoughts?

Note: I don’t endorse quitting your day jobs to live your dream life. I think they both can be balanced simultaneously. However, if you do decide to resign, it is advisable you get a practical picture of the grass on the other side, sans the romance. 

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Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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31 thoughts on “Want to Quit Your Job and Live Your Dream? Read On”

  1. Lovely article, Amrita. You have put it down beautifully and realistically. It is a battle alright but the rewards taste sweeter when you know its your passion you are working for.

  2. Loved reading this. There are so many people who think that those who chase their passion are just “lucky” – refusing to see the hard work and tough days that go behind it. This is a great reminder, and one of the best things I’ve read on your blog lately :-)

    1. Thanks Shivya :) That exact assumption is what I detest. I wish we all grow with more empathy and learn than tag someone’s hard work as ‘lucky’.

  3. “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

    So true. The disconnect between dreams and reality only vanishes when you’re ready to strive for it.

  4. Very well written, Amrita…. ‘living your dream’ is so often associated with doing something you enjoy, that you dont have to work hard for… its easy to forget or ignore the fact, that to be good at what you do, even what you love, you really have to work hard, and slog all the way…

    1. Thank you, Anu. Unfortunately, everyone assumes it is a ready-made cheesecake :p

  5. Really well written, practical and realistic. Following your dreams is walking the razor’s edge. People see only the bright and shiny side of it. They don’t see how far you have to live outside of your comfort zone. They don’t see the dark nights of the soul. They don’t see the fear, uncertainty, risks, self-doubt. They don’t see what it takes to find your own path in a dark forest.

    I admire you for having such a rational approach. You seem to be finding the balance that has thus far eluded me.

    1. Thanks, Mariellen. Those similes are a perfect way to describe the every day life of a new freelancer.

      I’m still trying to find my balance but I’m happy to have learnt and grown with clarity :)

  6. Very practical piece of advice coming out of personal experience. I believe all of us are going through similar phases of highs and lows. A suggestion: For the readers, it will be worthwhile knowing what ‘long term/ short term assignments’ we people usually do. That is the part we constantly elude in our articles. And I think maybe/ or maybe not, we are still scared to open up.

    1. I think we’re fortunate to keep good company, Gaurav :)

      That’s a good suggestion you made. May be that calls for a different blog post which enlists how we make money as freelancers. I’ll be happy to help my readers understand my work. No apprehensions there, at all.

  7. Finally I am commenting here. :)

    Very well written Amrita. People see only the ‘lucky’ part of yours but if you ask them to be this lucky, many of them would back off. They don’t want to come out of comfort zone & do the hard work. They don’t realize that nothing comes for free.

    I liked having the short term & long term strategies.

    1. Absolutely Nisha. It’s always easier to assume than to live the same life.

      And thanks for making time to re-visit my blog :)

  8. Very well written Amrita! The realities and the harsh truth are rarely seen. You’ve perfectly echoed the sentiments of thousands of good bloggers like you who are rising to success everyday.
    I just quit my job to pursue my dream of traveling. It’s been just 2 weeks and I’m already in the grind – working for hours to chase freelance assignments. I’ve just begun and the reality is encouraging and as well as looks scary. But all I know is I’m ready to work as hard as it requires to achieve my dreams and goals – the results? well, I’ll not wait or hope!

    1. Good luck Reshma! It really isn’t a bad bad world out here, though. It is a lot of fun being a freelancer and figuring your own way in the market. I just hope all those who want to venture into this lifestyle don’t assume it’s a garden!

      Work hard and let your motivation drive you. Hope is what keeps us alive :)

  9. Hey Amrita, after I decided to quit my job to “Live”, I knew it wouldn’t be as rosy as it sounds to travel around! It is just thorns that you face initially and how far can you walk on them until you see the rosy side of the path! It’s been a week since I have stepped on the thorns and it has been fantastic ;) This post was a good read, shows what a freelancer goes through every day, Good luck to you and wish me some luck too!

    1. Hey Sneha, your blog looks lovely. Keep at it. We’re all in this together, as I constantly say. Good luck and these aren’t really thorns. Look at them closely? They’re opportunities trying to reach out. :)

  10. Oh well this piece justifies the reason why I have always admired you. Yes you are a friend but there hasnt been one occasion when I have not expressed my respect and fanboy moments of your thought process. very very valid points on why the genuine picture of the other side be shown to all . More power love and good luck to you

    1. Thank you Anindya. But you flatter me too much. It is just about doing a job well, except that there is no fixed pay-check at the end of the month. But no complaints :)

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