My Best Mistake: I Quit My Dream Job
Everyone thought it was a huge mistake when I quit my first post-college job after only two weeks.
The reason was that from high school forward, I’d had a single career goal: I wanted to be a psychologist who worked with children. My family didn’t have a lot of money, which meant that I had to work my way through school and take on a lot of debt. So it was a big deal when I graduated and was lucky enough to find a job in that field. I could slowly pay off my loans, while doing what I’d always wanted.
But it was also 1995, and suddenly there was this new thing called the Internet. I had seen it and fallen completely in love with it. The technology was so exciting that I knew I had to try working in the field.
This kind of thing happens to a lot of people. Your life gets momentum in one direction, and everyone starts thinking of you as someone who does X. Your dad sold cars; so you’re going to sell cars. You got an MFA in creative writing, so you have to be a poet. You got a law degree, so you have to join a law firm. It can be extremely difficult to step out of that path and do something different.
But sometimes you have to take that risk and endure the criticism you’re going to hear—especially if you’re young and something really grabs your attention. I’d wanted to be a psychologist like some kids want to be firemen or baseball players. So it shocked everyone when I suddenly decided to shift gears and work in technology. I still remember my boss telling me it was the biggest mistake I’d ever make.
As it happens, I did ok with the new direction. I quickly got a job in the field and founded my first company not long after.
One last point. Just because you take up a new dream doesn’t mean you have to shelve the other completely. In fact, if you really love something, it may come back to you. Recently, I was in a room with an official from the Special Olympics, and I told him this story. He invited me to volunteer with the organization, and I jumped at the chance.
So perhaps the most important thing to remember about giving up your big dream is that you may not be giving it up at all.