Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed Elon Musk on Tyson’s podcast “StarTalk Radio” (consider the star power between them). In the interview, Musk described some key moments in college that led to his success.
According to Business Insider, Elon Musk—in his early college years—dreamed of plans to help society through the internet, cleaner energy, and space exploration (to Mars).
Musk also mentioned a critical point in college when he considered if he could start a technology company, instead of working a normal job after graduation. He designed a self-imposed experiment to test out if he had what it takes for the grind-it-out life of an entrepreneur.
Musk said, “I mean, in America it’s pretty easy to keep yourself alive. So my threshold for existing was pretty low. I figured I could be in some cheap apartment with my computer and be okay, and not starve.”
He decided to see if he could live off a dollar a day, or $30, for a month. By eating mostly hot dogs and oranges, Musk accomplished this challenge.
From this experiment, he knew he had nothing too scary to fear like starving to death. This understanding freed Musk to relentlessly pursue his dreams, no matter the sacrifice or discomfort.
Musk’s belief that he could take incredible risks, and still be ok, set the pace for his now billionaire status and incredible success as CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.
This story about Elon Musk inspired me to flesh out the idea further of choosing your dreams over comfort. As you can tell below, I quickly turn passionate about this topic.
Musk Chose His Dreams Over The Easy Path
Elon Musk is the perfect example of going in the opposite direction of comfort. Eating off one dollar a day is what we see on the surface. But, when we go deeper, the point isn’t about intense frugality or experimenting.
The deeper idea here is the powerful results of choosing your dreams and freedom, over comfort.
For example, Musk could have had a successful and lucrative career with a degree from Penn and the fact he is a brilliant individual. Thousands of college students choose this path because they are drawn to the appeal of financial comfort and a steady income.
But, he sacrificed the six-figure salary, expensive dinners, and comfortable life. Instead, he chose to struggle for the chance to accomplish his vision.
Comfort Takes More Than It Gives
Most people are the opposite of Elon Musk. They avoid pain, sacrifice, and the hard work struggle that success requires. Most people only want to do what is easy and the tasks they already do well.
They don’t take risks and only choose comfort in their life. They get tricked into thinking a simple, comfortable life is what they truly desire. They are afraid to live any other way!
Then these people—as parents and grandparents—grow older and ask themselves why they never took that risk, or why they never sacrificed to see how far they could have gone to reach their goal.
They miss out on their dreams and live life with an unfulfilled desire for what could have been.
I don’t want Take Your Success readers to be those people who choose comfort instead of chasing their dreams. I don’t want us to be miserable because we gave up our opportunities to do what we truly desired, and sold ourselves for a job we dislike.
Below are some questions for you to consider when deciding if you want to choose comfort or your dreams:
- How many college students choose a mindless activity instead of envisioning and preparing small steps for their future?
- How often do people choose to put off working out because they don’t feel like it, when going to the gym will actually make them happier?
- How frequent do students pick the safe job after school, rather than the crazy journey that will push them to reach new heights?
- How many times do people keep working at a job they hate, because searching for or creating a new job is scary and looks like too much work?
- How great is the number of individuals who trade in their long-term dreams for short-term circumstances?
- How many people go to their grave without attempting their dreams?
Actions Moving Forward
To protect ourselves from an unhappy future and incomplete goals, first let’s overcome the fear of failure. You’re going to screw up, and that’s ok because these screw ups are pivotal learning experiences.
So, today—right now—begin difficult challenges that will stretch you beyond your current mental grasp.
Take risks to test yourself and see what is inside of you.
Start the small steps and gain momentum toward your long-term goal.
Embrace the struggles along the way to stay positive, and then continue to endure. As you go, you will learn new ways to persevere and reach further.
Ultimately, in this journey, you will discover powerful talents, abilities, and influence about yourself that you otherwise would have never found. The sacrifice and pain required up front is an easy trade for the confidence, character, satisfaction, and freedom you get out of the process.
When you chase your dream and feel progress, you will be truly living instead of slowly dying!
Readers, could you eat off a dollar a day? Do you know people in your life who lost the spark to life and only choose comfort? What do you make of the idea to choose your dreams over comfort?