There Are Other Places to Go: Quitting As Success

To GoIf I were rich, I’d wear Vera Wang dresses to the galas and fetes that I assume would pepper my schedule. She’s known for the elegant bridal gowns she designs, and has been responsible for some of the most memorable figure skating costumes worn in the Olympics. But did you know there almost were no Vera Wang dresses?

Wang’s first career was actually as a magazine editor. She worked for Vogue for 17 years, which is far longer than most people stay with a single company. Yet, at some point she realized that she had reached the end of her career at Vogue. Wang wasn’t likely to be made editor-in-chief, and her ambitions had nowhere else to take her.

So she quit.

Sitting from my perspective as a professional woman who recently transitioned jobs, it’s a stunning act of bravery to quit a solid (if unfulfilling) job in order to tackle a dream. I don’t know if I would ever muster the courage (or, frankly, if I have the type of dreams that become a new career), but I admire that Wang did, and believe her comments about her decision can be influential even for people like myself who prefer to remain in the corporate world.

Wang told New York Magazine:

And when it’s over, and you feel like you’ve failed? To bounce back from that, it takes so many different things. It takes time. It takes an acceptance that you have to move on. And it takes being open to new experiences.

She added,

There are other places to go. Other things to try. So don’t be afraid of failing. I think not trying is worse than failing. Have the courage to try. Otherwise, what are we here for?

The idea of there being other places to go doesn’t have to be applied only to the biggest, boldest decisions. There are so many everyday decisions where we have the opportunity to bring ourselves joy or not (something that Marie Kondo’s book on home organizing also emphasizes). Are the activities you choose to fill your day making you happy? Are there things you could quit that don’t make you happy (ahem, organized sports), or new things you could try that might? How can you follow Wang’s advice of trying new things, even with the fear of failure?

Because Wang made a brave choice to follow a new path, millions of women can look stunning on their wedding days in her designs. As for me, I’m still waiting for my lottery numbers to hit.