Why you should never feel ashamed about changing directions

Are you a person who often changes their mind? Someone who starts a bunch of projects, but doesn’t finish many of them? Or who half way in finds something WAY more interesting? Good! It means that you are still looking for that right one — and wouldn’t it be terrible if you stopped before you found it?

We get stuck in offices, doing jobs we don’t love. We like them enough to stick around — and they may pay well, which is nice — but there is something missing. So we start a business with an initial idea that seemed great at the time, but… was not that great at all. We rethink, adjust and start something new that has REAL potential, only to find out that it doesn’t excite us. How many times can we switch ideas?

As many as we like!

Ok, sure. Someone who has been consistent with his idea is probably in a completely different financial situation than a person who tries again and again (or maybe not, maybe that person has been holding onto a “dead horse”, we don’t know!). Someone who has put in a lot of hours into developing something is, naturally, way ahead of you if you are just starting. If you want to compete with them — equally — then call Usain Bolt and borrow a pair of those running shoes… Or just accept that you are on two different levels.

Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15.

And there is this factor of people (who’s opinion we might or might not care about) asking: “have you changed jobs AGAIN?”. Stand tall and say: “Yes, I have. I’m picky”.

It’s like with love. When it’s right, it’s easy. When it’s not right, you’ll start having a nagging feeling in your stomach, trying to tell you that something is off. Maybe there is no balance between effort and output. Maybe you don’t get to grow. Maybe you are just not… happy. I hope that you would get yourself out of an unhappy relationship, and the same goes for a project — especially if the idea was yours in the first place.

One more thing. Imagine the HORROR if some of our great idea generators stopped at their early attempts. Imagine what products and services we would be forced to live without! Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Are you on your fifth idea, trying to figure out what to do with your business? Friend, you have nothing to worry about!

This is one of my favorite quotes on starting over:

“The very first company I started failed with a great bang. The second one failed a little bit less, but still failed. The third one, you know, proper failed, but it was kind of okay. I recovered quickly. Number four almost didn’t fail. It still didn’t really feel great, but it did okay. Number five was PayPal.”

— Max Levchin

I have changed directions multiple times. Already at the university I added a second master degree instead of switching, because I was ashamed of quitting my first one, despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy a single day at that school. My first position was a one that a person with my high education “was supposed to get”. Although I was doing well, I knew that I wasn’t using my full potential. I started my business twelve years ago and I’m on my fourth direction. A part of me glances with a bit of envy at those well established enterprises that have been doing the same things for over a decade (I mean, they have hundreds of employees and what not), the other part reads the tattoo on my I arm that I conveniently got at the year of starting my business:

All I’ve known, all I’ve done, all I’ve felt was leading to this.

(a bit of lyrics from the most beautiful song)

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the right one. The passion, the right project, the right idea. Something that makes you jump out of bed every morning. Something that keeps you up late at night, not because you have to, but because you want to. Something that you can be proud of and leave as your legacy. It may take 15 more career switches, or you might find it at the next attempt. One thing is sure — if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. 

Original photo: Ivica Džambo for Pexels