Making the right decision
Recently, I left the founding team of a company that I care deeply about.
The decision was gut-wrenching. In many ways, what we were building was extraordinary. In many others, it wasn't right for me. Either way, doing something that you can eat, sleep, and breathe teaches you a lot. Walking away from something like that also offers its fair share of lessons.
A few months ago, I watched Ruth Chang's TED talk on making hard choices. In it, she argues that hard choices are hard they don't have best options. Instead, the alternatives are on a par: all valuable, but in very different ways. In the absence of an absolute best, what makes a choice the right choice is our choice to stand with it. The idea stuck with me, and I found myself sharing it again and again.
On the other hand, I wasn't great about applying it personally. A part of me was anxious about leaving. Barely a year earlier, I quit my job at a restructuring project (and left a hefty retention bonus offer on the table) to follow a dream. Realizing that it wasn't my dream shook me. Had I made the wrong decision? Should I have cared more about the money? What would I do next?
My immediate reaction to all of this doubt and uncertainty was to grab at security. I lined up conversations, applied to open roles, and mentally prepared myself to be back on the market.
Then, I got on a plane to Brazil.
Taking time off was the best thing I could have done for myself. In the weeks following my last days at work, I was too emotional and too close to the problem to make good, much less great, decisions about my future. I panicked and reached for things that were familiar, easy, and accessible.
After a few days in Rio, I rediscovered my love for change. With change comes anxiety — but, once you get past that, it's full of opportunity and possibility. Dropping yourself in a new place, for example, requires adjustment. Once you've calibrated, though, amazing people and experiences await you.
With a bit of space and time, I'm finally taking my own advice and recognizing how much agency I have in making my choices the right choices. When I quit my last job to help build this company, I chose passion over money. In leaving, I chose to forge a new path and explore the unknown rather than continue down a road that wasn't right for me. On the other side of these decisions, I can live in the past, questioning myself and wondering about the alternatives, or I can stand with my choices and make them work for me.
I choose the latter.
Rather than be afraid of an open and unclear future, I'm excited and grateful to have a clean page to design on. Instead of fearing my newfound free time, I'm headed off on a cross country adventure in search of more perspective. I'm no closer to knowing what's next for me, but I've learned in the past few months that anything is possible, and it'll all work out.
Embrace change and trust yourself, and you'll always make the right decision.