Changing Paths

By Adela Penagos, PhD, President

It was 7:15pm and we were ready for dinner.  Anna and I had planned to meet at a neighborhood restaurant that does not take reservations.  Upon arrival, we realized that the gorgeous summer night had encouraged many to come out.  The line was very long.  Thus, we asked ourselves, “Should we wait for a while or change our plans and go elsewhere?” 

We both like tapas and decided to head to one of our favorite venues instead, hoping that there would be no wait and luckily there wasn’t.  We were very excited to see each other and catch up.  Anna has decided to make a major life change.  After graduating from a prestigious Ivy and working for 8 years, she is going to a graduate business program (aka B-school).

Change is part of life.  There is the type of change life throws at us in unexpected ways and the type of change we seek because of realizing that the path we are on is no longer working out for us.  Professionally, we may change majors, jobs, or go back to school.  Regardless of our reason for changing paths, there are several characteristics present throughout the process.  Today, I am going to focus on 3 of them–please keep in mind there are many more—and offer some insights in how to best cope with change:

1.     Excitement: 

Change is the prime opportunity for a new beginning.  Anna, for example, is planning on studying abroad during one of her semesters in B-school.  She did not have this opportunity while an undergrad and will venture to a European city to learn how businesses function there and hone her Spanish-speaking skills.  Once she graduates, her hope is to apply for jobs at companies interested in globalization.

2.     Uncertainty: 

Because we are unable to predict the future, embarking on any change creates uncertainty.  During this time, it is important to remember why we have chosen a new path.  Take out that list you made or the questions you asked during the discernment process–I will blog more on this topic at a later date—and trust that you have made the right decision for you.  Think of other changes you have endured throughout your life and remember how you adjusted through them.  It is not wise to expect instantaneous gratification of the new chosen path.  Change takes time and patience is a virtue during the process.  Have fun while discovering your path.  Anna is looking at this new stage of her life as an adventure.  She is going to be able to meet new people, move to a new city, and learn much more about the business world and herself.

3.     Fear: 

We are always afraid of having made a mistake by changing our path.  However, in my experience, the best way to work through this is to move forward and not look back at the path that used to be.  While Anna is afraid that her job opportunities next summer will limit her to live in Boston–where she can stay with her parents without going into further debt—as opposed to NYC, where she wants to be, she understands that living at home will provide her with more flexibility while studying abroad in her second year of B-school.  Hence, she will be able to travel more around Europe, a part of the world she has never visited before.

Keep in mind that initially, any change, as exciting as it may be, will be a bit difficult.  However, there are ways to make the process smoother:

Have a support team: 

It is important to choose a friend or group of friends you can count on to remind you of the reasons you selected this new path.  They will help you remain positive and think of various ways in which you can succeed.  When I decided to take on entrepreneurship, one of my friends said to me, “This is exciting, but very scary.”  Fortunately, I was not in a self-doubting mode when she made this comment.  Otherwise, her response would have made me question my decision.  This person was not part of my support team.  Hence, do not forget to choose wisely.


Starting anew brings new hopes and dreams, two of the most beautiful parts of life.  Take time to savor your new journey as much as you can, discover new paths, build new relationships, and learn as much as possible. 

Change is good and as time goes by you will be more thankful to have had the courage to change paths, as we all know “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”