Not Regretting a Pivot – Isaac Taylor

Hi everyone, I’m Isaac. I grew up in Iowa, but lived abroad in 4 countries, speaking 4 languages, and currently working in data analytics at a large consulting company.

Though I was about to graduate college as a Chemical Engineer, I applied to a Business Analyst position at a small data analytics company that would take me to India for 6 months. I already had enjoyed programming in some of my classes, and had spent a year studying abroad in Germany and Switzerland, staying in hostels and travelling in between. I knew working in tech and travel was something I wanted to stay at the center of my life going forward, so I accepted the job offer and pivoted.

I didn’t want to look back when I was old and wonder “What would my life have looked like if I had accepted the job and gone to India?” Without having the words for it at the time, I had used the “Regret Minimization Framework”.

Best as I can tell, there are two kinds of fear: There’s a necessary fear, which can be helpful with self-preservation (avoiding skydiving and snakebites) and then there’s a lot of unnecessary fear keeping us away from potentially healthy change. Framing decisions in terms of potentially regretting saying no, can help give us an extra push to action, if needed.

Behavioral Economics has some similar mental models to learn about, such as the sunk cost fallacy: If I enjoyed programming more than polymers should I have changed my major even if it meant my Organic Chemistry credits would all be for nothing?

I can only wonder, but I don’t need to idealize an alternative past. Schrödinger’s cat is out of the bag. The past has already happened, and here in the present, life is lived “live”. There’s no way to design an experiment to say that any imagined alternate timeline would have been better. For all we know, we could’ve gotten hit by a bus due to other variables we couldn’t have considered, since success is never a guarantee. All that we can hope to do is to glean principles from our past and other people’s experiences, and hopefully have the wisdom to apply those lessons to the future.

Insta: @idtaylor