Flipping a coin to make important life decisions sounds pretty stupid, right?
If you were deciding whether or not to go to the movies, sure. But for deciding if you should leave your job? Absurd.
But of course, that’s exactly what I did recently.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Kevin, how on earth could you leave your fate to random chance like that, you idiot?”
But I didn’t even have to see what the coin landed on to know what my decision was. I’ll explain, but first let me give you some backstory.
My history of job restlessness
I’ve always suffered from extreme restlessness and dissatisfaction when it comes to jobs. Naturally, none of us are going to be in a state of pure bliss while we’re at the office — every job is going to have its ups and downs, but feeling dissatisfied and out of place is another thing altogether.
I got my first job when I was in high school. I worked at a library where I was responsible for shelving books and making sure each and every one of them were in order according to the Dewey Decimal System.
It was pure torture.
I was restless, trapped, and bored out of my mind. I craved human interaction. It didn’t take long for me to realize the library world wasn’t for me. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a long list of job stints where I would feel like a caged bird.
In college I landed a summer internship, this time with General Electric. The internship was designed to see if students had what it took to complete the Information Management Leadership Program — a grueling two-year program that consisted of four six-month rotations in different parts of the nation.
The other student interns were brilliant and capable, excited about what they were doing. They dazzled and impressed their supervisors with their knowledge of engineering and management.
Then there was me, sitting in my cubicle feeling defeated and incompetent.
I had taken the internship because I thought I might enjoy working for a huge corporation that had an amazing global reputation. As it turned out though, I wasn’t good at project management, nor was I interested in it. Within two weeks of that internship I was taking naps at my desk, and no, I don’t mean just closing my eyes for a few minutes. I’m talking full. blown. naps.
After I graduated college, things didn’t get much better. The job market was tight, but I managed to find a position working at a local law firm, where my job was to painstakingly proofread legal documents to ensure there were no discrepancies or grammatical errors.
It required an extraordinary attention to detail, which I found difficult to sustain after just a few short weeks on the job. I realized this wasn’t something I could keep doing and that I’d rather interact with people all day, even if it meant getting paid less.
So that’s what I did. I left my job at the law firm and within a week was working part-time at the mall selling Rainbow sandals.
Hey mom, look at me! Aren’t you proud?
Still, despite the lack of prestige, I was much happier with this job than my previous one. At least I was interacting with people, something that I was good at. Even though I wasn’t passionate about sales, I could at least keep my sanity…for a little while.
Until one day while at work someone I knew from college came up to the flip-flop kiosk I was at. “You graduated last year, right? Why are you still doing this shit?” she asked me, verbatim.
I didn’t have a good answer. Up until that point, I was simply trying to avoid being miserable. In the process, I had forgotten that I wasn’t actually moving forward.
That night I went home and immediately researched grad school options.
My résumé says I’m successful now. I disagree.
Fast forward to now.
It’s been three years since I finished grad school. I just left my job where I worked with amazing people for an awesome company in the mental health field.
On the surface of it, I had it made. I have a master’s degree in counseling and I was working as a psychotherapist. I was doing what I went to school for. I had my own office. I even had an intern! The notion of leaving such a great position to pursue something else — something that wouldn’t even guarantee stable income — is absurd.
But I knew something was off. I’ve experienced this gnawing existential crisis enough times to know when I’m not doing something that sets my soul on fire — that I’m not pursuing what I was meant to pursue.
Yes, leaving a stable career path is scary. It’s terrifying. But I’ve realized that what’s far more terrifying is living a lie. If I didn’t do something, ten years would go by and I’d be in the same position. I could let my fear immobilize me or I could take action.
The Coin Flip.
So let’s get back to the coin flip.
After struggling for weeks about whether or not I should quit my job, I decided I was going to leave my life decision to chance. One night while in my room, I took out a quarter and assigned the answers appropriately.
Heads – I leave my job. Tails – I stay.
As I flipped George Washington in the air, I didn’t even need to see what side was face up as it landed. I was secretly hoping it was going to be heads.
That’s all it took for me to make my decision.
The Bottom Line
You have one life. It’s up to you to choose how you invest your time. If you find yourself faced with a major decision, give this exercise a shot:
Assign each alternative to heads and tails and then flip a coin to decide your fortune.
But don’t worry about what it lands on. Instead, ask yourself the following: What do I hope it lands on? That’s your answer.
The point is this: you already know what you really want to do. You already know what you should do. All that’s left is to do it.
P.S. If you’re wondering if I really did this exercise, the answer is yes. If you’re curious about what exactly I left my job to pursue, you can subscribe to my newsletter, where I send out weekly updates about exciting People Passionate happenings, including details about my life shenanigans. If you liked this post, please like us on Facebook and share it with your friends!