They tell you “don’t quit your day job.”
But what if you did quit your day job? What if your day job was as a lucrative advisor on Wall Street?
In business an “Opportunity Cost” is the value of the next best alternative that is not chosen. Let’s just say screenwriting would not be considered the “next best alternative.”
Let’s do the math…
Let’s assume you graduated college, got a master’s degree and a professional license, like a CPA. Let’s even say you worked a few years as a manager in Mergers & Acquisitions at a major advisory firm in New York City.
And let’s say you then decided to pay your dues and put in the ten years it takes to master any high skill such as screenwriting. Here is how much your Day Job in NYC would make versus the Survival Job you must have in Hollywood while you learn to write:
- Year | Day Job | Survival Job | Cost of Dream
- 2003 | $ 103,208 | $ 29,189 | $ 74,019
- 2004 | $ 115,648 | $ 1,457 | $ 114,191
- 2005 | $ 123,649 | $ 34,423 | $ 89,227
- 2006 | $ 132,208 | $ 23,667 | $ 108,541
- 2007 | $ 196,882 | $ 68,180 | $ 128,702
- 2008 | $ 210,561 | $ 47,017 | $ 163,544
- 2009 | $ 224,615 | $ 7,059 | $ 271,566
- 2010 | $ 240,849 | $ 21,305 | $ 219,814
- 2011 | $ 448,629 | $ 36,324 | $ 412,304
- 2012 | $ 479,917 | $ 35,000 | $ 444,917
- Total | $2,276,167 | $303,351 | $1,972,816
In total you have given up almost $2 million dollars in real hard cold dollars to pursue screenwriting. Let me repeat that — TWO MILLION DOLLARS!
Maybe I’m just making this up. Maybe it’s all hypothetical. Nobody switches from Wall Street to Hollywood.
But I did.
I sat in the office of my boss on a day in April 2003. This was the fabled first day of the rest of my life. My boss told me that I was likely on the partner track and that they would like to dedicate me to the new Technology Initiative.
This is the point in a career where most people do cartwheels down old Broadway. Cha-ching! Rivers of money are going to flow your way! My answer:
“Actually I want to move to Los Angeles and pursue screenwriting.”
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Not to my parents.
If you have a CPA license and are making good money in Manhattan, here is what your parents do not want to hear:
I’m chucking it all and going to L.A. to be a screenwriter!
And that is because the Opportunity Cost of chasing my Hollywood Dream to date totals $1.97 million dollars.
And instead of basking in my Hollywood Hills mansion or Manhattan penthouse, I’m renting an apartment and every day I have to live with the deafening roar of a single question — was this a good idea?