Change one decision in your life

Last night I had the honor to attend a Womens Salon organized by Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novgratz. At the event, we were asked to answer the following question:

If you could go back and change one decision in your life, what would it be?

I wish I would have embraced and trusted the entrepreneurial side in me earlier. If only I would have started my design studio BEFORE I had my first kid. For some reason I thought I first need to get a good 6 years of experience working for others until I could do it on my own. That’s not the case! You learn so much, and so much faster, when you are your own boss. And there is really nothing like working for yourself. When you’re younger, you have so much more flexibility. You can easily keep your overhead low and you can work late if necessary. I made it work, starting my first business when I had my daugther, but it could have been a much easier experience would I have started earlier. In my next life, I’ll be starting my first company in my early 20s.

What about you?

35 Comments leave a comment below

  1. i love this question! i would have NOT gone to law school for a year. i figured i would try it out — even though i knew i didn’t want to be a lawyer — and then i left after a year. it was a crazy decision, and i was left with a staggering number of loans, which took me years (working a second job) to pay off. would have been awesome to skip that whole experience! :) joannaxo

  2. ich denke, das kann auch ein trugschluss sein.
    mitunter muss eine sache inhaltlich, verfahrenstechnisch, materiell, ideell und menschlich reifen. man kann in jungen jahren die risiken nicht abschaetzen. das selbstvertrauen, das fuer selbststaendigkeit noetig ist, waechst meist erst in geschuetzten reservaten.

    allerdings kenne ich auch gut gegangene jungunternehmen, die auf volles risiko fuhren und gewannen. mich wuerde die statistische erfolgsrate interessieren, die das mal untersucht: wieviele junge leute scheitern und wieviele gewinnen in diesem spiel? wir sehen immer nur die spitzen der eisberge.

  3. I’d have taken up designing at a much earlier stage; if only I had as much confidence in me back then.

  4. I was going to answer pretty much word for word what you posted. I should have quit my first real job much sooner and started out on my own when both my wife and I had an income. One income and 2 beautiful daughters later and the thought of trying now is frightening.

  5. Oh how I wish I would have embraced math and sciences the way I do now. I love what I do now but it’s not my dream job — and I think I would need an engineering degree to do what I really want to do.

  6. Temporal Modification Negation Theory ;)

    My life is not perfect, but I won’t change. I don’t want to take the risk to miss one moment of the life I built day after day.

  7. With 14 I stopped learning to play piano, my parents played classical piano all the time …
    Later, with 16 I started to play drums in blues music, later in rock bands …
    But the fact that I could have play keyboards and never learned it was often seen as my biggest mistake in life.

  8. I was offered a job as the editor of a rock magazine when I was much younger, but didn’t take it out of honor to the editor who was (and still is) a good friend. But another good friend of his took it after I passed and they are still good friends! Not that I am unhappy with where I am in any way, but I can’t help but wonder where it may have taken me…

  9. I think bad decisions in the past lead to good decisions in the future. Life’s a lesson after all. I’m with Beaumont on this one!

  10. Thanks Tina, that is exactly what I needed to hear! I just started my own business (getting ready to launch next month) and have always wondered how ‘ready’ I really am – I’m 25 with only 3 years of post college knowledge, but have always felt that doing my own thing someday was always in the cards for me. Hearing you say you’d do it over again in your early 20s is so reassuring. Thanks for this post!

  11. Knowing what I know now, and as the the father of a 3 year old and 5 year, and having no free time anymore, I would have taken up and mastered photography earlier in life. As it stands, it will only remain a passionate but time limited activity.

    In my design career I did work for myself for several years pre-kids, but in fact I enjoy the collaboration of working with others and also not having to worry about the biz-dev side of things.

  12. I can’t agree more. My husband and I are trying to start our own business in Vancouver with two children under 4. It’s really hard work but I think we will get there in the end. I’m loving every minute of it and learning so much! It’s extremely rewarding the whole experience. Thanks for the post!

  13. That was just what I needed to hear right now! I’m 20, and I sometimes have a hard time taking myself seriously. My goals are to take on more contract clients, develop my talent, and then make my life what I want it to be by being the best that I can be every day. Thanks for the encouragement!

  14. It’s not good to dwell on the shoulda, coulda, woulda in life, but this is a nicely phrased question. I like it.

    I would have been more FEARLESS in how I approached life, but afterall I was a late bloomer and apprehensive of my abilities. Now as an adult I am building confidence in how I work, how I love, and how I express myself to the world. This is, in part, why I enjoy getting older.

  15. I would have lived abroad when I was younger. I still want to try to do it but I was so afraid to leave the confines of high school or college that I never did.

  16. I wish I had learned french in school, I assumed I wouldn’t need it and hated my grade 4-8 french teacher so I didn’t learn. Little did I know I’d go to the University of Ottawa, and not knowing french is making it a lot harder to get a job.

  17. I bought a condo in downtown Seattle, my first piece of real estate long before the bubble burst. Alas though, I still wish I could go back and change that decision. Buying property at a young age not only anchored me needlessly, it shouldered me with way more debt than I shoulda had in my 20s. Nah, if I could go back, I woulda bought an ugly old, just-barely-floating boat to live on and save all that extra money for things like travel, wood working lessons, oh yeah, and security. Buying that condo, which WAS wonderful at times, prevented me from doing a lot of things at such a prime time in life. Thank GAWD we get so many mini-lifetimes in our own life so we can circle around again, so to speak. Now the plan is to retire onto a boat in 10 years.

  18. I should have picked French in high-school… not German. I picked the easy way out as German is closer to Norwegian. Now living in France, while learning French is interesting… but it makes for a lot of really funny stories, like when I walked into Ikea asking for the doctors office instead of a medical-cabinet…

    You live you learn :)

  19. i would have bought a condominium i was considering years ago, doing that would have influenced everything done since

  20. So wonderful to hear this. I keep thinking I need to rely on others to get my work out or to be successful. If anything, my friend starting a business in high school has shown me the power of the self.

  21. What a great question.
    I will spend the next few days, thinking about that and make a decision with less regrets for the future!

    Tina Beth

  22. This was so encouraging to hear! I am starting out as a freelance graphic designer, one year out of college. Many people have told me that I need to gain some ‘real world’ experience before I can attempt something like this, which can be discouraging. I’m glad to hear that not all design professionals think that way.

  23. I would have call for a ride instead of walking home.

  24. I think I would have gotten a masters in English literature. A lot of schools are looking for adjuncts with just the masters. Going further back, I may have chosen not to become vegan at such a young age.

  25. I would have have said NO to student loans. Even SVA wasn’t worth the stress of trying to pay back. Here’s to the next 30 yrs of my life.

  26. I would have decided to live at peace with fear at a much younger age rather than deciding to let it hold me back. I squandered a lot of opportunities because I was scared to risk so-called security.

    I finally made the leap when I quit a job with no plan B. I don’t know if I’ll want my own business forever, but it taught me I will always make money, find oppty and figure it out/hustle as needed. That has made me far more comfortable taking risks even if I am a bit nervous about them.

    Oh and I would have moved to NYC right after I graduated from college.

  27. I would have taken people more seriously when they said “enjoy your sleep” before I had my first baby.

  28. I would have gone with the man I loved five years ago, instead of staying in the relationship I was in at the time (and still am in now). I so wish I could go back into the past and change this :(

  29. Every decision I made I did with full consideration possible at that point of time. We always know better afterwards, but if we made the decision with considering the possiblities at hand, there is nothing to regret. Nobody can see in the future.

    But if i had one chance to go back in time and tell my younger self one thing – it would be to appreciate myself more the way I am/was. I was much prettier, much “better” than I gave myself credit for.

  30. What a reassuring and inspiring post, keeping it short and simple too. I love it. I’m young, with only 1 year of post-college work experience, and last week was my last working my day job. Now, I’m off to pursue self-employment full time. And I know it was the right decision. Thank you for this!

  31. This may come as a surprise to some, but if I could go back and change the decision to go to college I absolutely would. At 22 years old, I am in an astronomical amount of debt. I know it is time for me to embrace that which I cannot change, but I’m still in the process of this acceptance. I never wanted to work a 9-5, I wanted to find something creative. I understand that I’m still capable of doing this, but my high monthly loan payments hinder my inspiration, and I hope i don’t end up panicking myself into a terrible job!

  32. How to create photo border like this^ ?
    Like polaroid

  33. I would have made my mom let me do ballet AND piano when I was 8, instead of having to give up ballet. I would have then become a break dancer.

    Really though, I’ve been doing freelance and wishing I had a full-time job. Probably because I am lazy. It is easier to have someone else find work for you. I also like having people around to critique my work immediately. This post is making me wonder if I should try to be content with my freelancing. I enjoy it, of course. Real jobs really cut into my bike riding time. This post is making me think.

  34. I would have travelled more with my husband in the first few years after we met. We had plans virtually from day one for travelling, especially to Japan and South America. We even studied some Japanese and Spanish in preparation!

    While we have done some great overseas travel to Europe and South-East Asia, it hasn’t been nearly as extensive as we envisaged and we still haven’t made it to either Japan or South America. Now we have kids so we are not the free agents we once were. It’ll happen, but it’s different when you’re in your 20s with very little tying you down.

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