Was your decision really that poor?
July 3, 2018

You may remember me talking about getting a degree in civil engineering, as if that was a bad decision. And, depending on the metric you use, it was.

There are other ways of looking at it, though.

I graduated with a B average and passed the exam that would’ve paved the way (so to speak) for my Engineer-in-Training certificate. Considering how much I hated the material, and it me, that was a monumental display of grit -- which is a gift that keeps on giving. I’d chosen the major with the highest prospects for the most money when I graduated, and learned that if you don’t know where you’re going you may as well not arrive broke. If I didn’t like engineering I could still become a writer without going back to school -- but if I’d majored in creative writing and caught the engineering bug later, more education would’ve been required. There’s a lot to be said for doing the wrong things in the right order.

My summer internships in road construction, railroad design, and manufacturing management were a lot of fun in every way except the actual work. I knew by the time I graduated I wanted nothing to do with engineering. I accidentally sidestepped the sunk cost problem before I ever heard the term, saving me many more years of unhappiness. I went into a general management program with a big company after I graduated. The work didn’t make my heart sing, but it gave me so many windows on the world -- and I learned a lot about what I was good at and what might be fun to focus on someday.

I’ve often joked about what a silly decision it was to major in engineering, and this post is my way of retiring that storyline. If you keep referring to yourself as a joke and keep referring to your decisions as silly, would you be surprised at how difficult it is to take your dreams seriously?

When we don’t even have friends in ourselves, who needs naysayers?