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When do you give up on what you love?

If you had the complete freedom to do whatever you wanted with your life, and everything necessary for it would be taken care of, how would you live your life? I would travel to Corsica, to Sardegna, to the Greek islands, to Dubrovnik, to Rio, to Puerto Rico, any place with sunny weather and a beach and good food and a fast Internet connection, every few months to a new place, and write.

Except for a handful of people, the answer to this given by many people will not be the same as what they are currently doing. And those handful of people are the ones that are at the top rung of what they are doing - the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, JK Rowling and Jeffrey Archer, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

Just like these people worked towards being in the top rung of their respective fields, everyone is on a mission to keep climbing up the ladder of life until they reach the top rung.

It is very common to see people who are climbing up a ladder that is not connected to what they would love to be doing. They do it either because it is a lower risk option (risk of failure that is) or because it is a more lucrative option.

Whatever the reason, these people have given up on doing what they love and are climbing up a different ladder. Some of these people (like myself) have one foot each on different ladders and are trying to climb up both. And the reasons here too are the same as climbing a totally different ladder.

Naturally, climbing up with one foot on one ladder and another foot on another is a tricky prospect.

Which of the three is the right choice?

Should we pick the ladder we love the most and do our best to climb to the top, while saying no to more lucrative and/or less risky options?

Should we pick two ladders and try climbing with one foot on each of them?

Should we give up on our love and pick the less risky and/or more lucrative option and climb up that ladder instead?

The way I have phrased the three choices is how a lot of people look at this situation. And indeed, they pick one of the three options. And there are happy climbers on all three kinds.

But there is another option. One that we often don't consider.

This option is to climb down whatever ladder we are on and go pick a completely new ladder and start climbing up that.

This option doesn't occur to us or even if it does, we shove it to the side without paying much attention to it because this is an option that society frowns upon.

There are two kinds of advice that you often hear - one is to stick it out and put in the hard work and do well to climb up the ladder that you are on and eventually you might come to like it - the 'love what you do' brigade. The other is to pick the ladder that you want and work very hard to climb up that without giving up - the 'do what you love' brigade.

Very often, we fall in love with something that we see from afar. A good friend of mine and I had a running joke in college. I'd point at a girl and ask him, "How does she look?" and he'd say "Good from far, but far from good." A lot of options and careers and lifestyles, and yes, people too, that we fall in love with can be described the same way. Good from far, but far from good.

A lot of us like the idea of being a successful entrepreneur, a world traveling writer, a bestselling musician, the President of our country, but once we get into actually working towards it, we realise that we are either not cut out for it or we don't really like to put in the work that it takes to get there.

Which is why many people I know hedge their bets and pick multiple ladders to simultaneously climb up on. When they realise that one of them is either not for them or they don't think putting in the effort it takes to do it isn't worthwhile, they take their foot off that ladder and focus on the others that they still have their feet on. Until they are down to one ladder.

But very rarely do we see someone climb off the ladder once they decide it isn't worth proceeding up, and go find a new ladder to climb on.

It is indeed scary to jump off one ladder and then climb a completely new one. And very risky.

But this is an option that deserves a seat at the table. Maybe we leave one foot on our current ladder and not think about climbing up any further, and focusing on climbing up another one with the other foot. Until we can take this foot off this ladder.

Pursue what you love, but first ensure that it is not what you see from afar that you're in love with and are ready to fall in love with the long climb up the ladder to get there. 

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