Encore post: Dreams, passions and cardboard arcades

More Money Than Month is on vacation this week, but so as not to leave you empty handed I thought I’d share some of my favorites from the past. I loved this video about a young boy named Caine and his cardboard arcade. At 9 years old he hadn’t learned to listen to those voices that tell you your dreams will never work, you’re not smart enough, don’t have the right skills, it’s not practical, it’ll never work. He just had a dream and went for it. We can learn from that.


My friend, John Frainee, posted a link to this video on the Christian Dollar. What a terrific story! It’s worth the 10 minutes to watch the video.

In short, Caine is a 9-year-old boy in East LA who just loves arcades. His dad has a small auto parts business, and he’d hang out with his dad at the store in the summer. Of course being an auto parts store there were lots of cardboard boxes around. Caine hit on the idea of building his own arcade. He started with a basketball game and it took off from there.

The creativity, imagination, and determination of this 9-year-old is amazing. He has a passion for arcades and was determined to pursue it despite whatever discouragements might come his way.

It started me thinking, what if…


What if we pursued our passions with the same level of creativity and imagination? A recent Gallup study reported by Forbes magazine indicated that more than 70% of workers hate their jobs. I think much of this is because people find themselves in careers that don’t really match their passions. They have chosen careers based on expected pay, or because of encouragement from family or friends based on what they are expected to be, but that career really doesn’t match what God created them to be. As a result they spend their lives feeling a little like a fish swimming up-stream.

Jon Acuff says the process of finding our passions is not so much a discovery as it is a re-discovery. Children don’t need encouragement. Walk into a kindergarten class and little Suzie will proudly show you her drawing and tell you she’s the greatest artist in the world. But somewhere along the way we get told to be a little more realistic. You aren’t as good as you think you are. Don’t want to grow up to be a “starving artist”. And we leave our passions behind for something we are told is more practical.

Now admittedly some dreams may be impractical. I’m a middle-aged guy that can sky with at least a 6 inch vertical leap. At this point dreams of playing professional basketball probably aren’t too likely. But I think too often as Jon Acuff describes, we once knew what our passion was but somewhere along the line we left behind our passion for the practical.

Now I’m not saying that Caine is going to grow up to be an arcade designer. Who knows. But that curiosity and creativity might lead to some great things. What if we approached our existing jobs with that same child-like passion? Or if our current job does not give us joy, what if we searched back to the things that once did give us that kind of passionate joy and pursued that.


What if we did not allow discouragement to derail us? Caine only had one customer and it was a long time to get that one. To top it off his friends teased him at school when he tried to tell them about his arcade. It would have been easy for Caine to give up, but Caine had a determination that wasn’t easily daunted. His dad even teased him on the big day about just going home because he wouldn’t have any customers anyhow, but he would have nothing of it.

What if we pursued our passion with the same relentless abandon? What if we refused to listen to those that say, “It can’t be done.”, “You’ll never make it”, “You aren’t good enough”. When you start to pursue your passion, that little voice in the back of your mind will start whispering these doubts to you. Well meaning, or perhaps not so well-meaning friends and family may feed those doubts. Pursue your passion and do not allow those voices to side track you.

Seek “wise” counsel

You do need to listen to wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” You need to seek out wise counselors as you pursue your passions. Find people who have done it before and learn from them. Just don’t let the voice of negativity keep you from pursuing the dreams that God has placed in your heart.

Don’t quit your day job, at least not yet.

I’m also not saying that if you are one of those 70% you should quit your job today to pursue your passion. You need to have a transition plan so that you do this in a way that doesn’t bankrupt your family. Jon Acuff’s book Quitter is the best book I’ve ever read about how to make this transition. If this post has struck a chord with you, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Quitter.

So back to personal finance.

At its heart budgeting is a really simple equation. You have what you make minus what goes out in bills and other debts. Much of the time we focus on cutting expenses to make the budget balance. But sometimes the problem is really on the income side of the equation.

You can try to improve the income side by working harder. But if you are doing a job you hate, you will always feel like you are swimming against the flow, and you will likely never find any lasting success.

When you follow your passion instead of following the income, it’s amazing how often the money will follow.

I hope as you are reading this you have a great job and you love going to work every day. If so say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the work He has given you. If however you are one of those 70% that dread Monday mornings, decide today that you are going to pursue a different path. Life is too short to spend 40 or more hours a week doing something that leaves you miserable. This path might take a while to achieve. Seldom do good things happen over night. But start today. Do something! I encourage you, go find your cardboard arcade. You can do it.

What do you think? Are we created for a purpose? Or is work just work and not meant to be inspired from our passions?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.