Most Goals Are Non-Linear

After I graduated college with my civil engineering degree, I knew deep down inside  I was likely to change career paths at some point in the future. It wasn’t that I didn’t like engineering, it was just a lot slower in the real world than I had pictured in my head.

Nearly two years after working as an engineer job I had transitioned to a financial advisor role in an effort to move closer to a career in investment banking or venture capital (which is really what I wanted to do). I became fascinated with venture capital my last year of college and was determined to work in the space someday/somehow, even though my trajectory at the time seemed to be chartered in a different direction. On July 26, 2006 at 11:04am I wrote myself an email of which I’ll share the following excerpt:

………I would like to get my MBA when I am 27. I’ll have it completely done by the time I’m 29. By the time I’m 29 I’ll have the credentials I need to get a job at Venture Capital firm……..”

I was 25 when I wrote this and every time I read this email (which I read frequently) it surprises me how little my goals have changed in the last 10+ years. I’m a big believer in writing down goals. Even though people have goals, not a lot of people write them down.

In regards to the two goals I wrote down 11 years ago I did in fact end up accomplishing them (yay!). However, neither of them happened when I was 27 or 29!  I didn’t complete my MBA until I was 33 and I didn’t get my first start in venture and working with startups until I was 34.

I’m 36 now and I just accepted an opportunity to work for a Venture Capital firm that invests into other VC funds. Instead of investing directly in entrepreneurs, I’ll be responsible for finding and investing in VC managers in the technology and healthcare space that work with innovative startups all over the world. I’m very excited about the opportunity as it truly builds on the work I was doing at my previous employer and greatly broadens my perspective as a portfolio fund manager.

As I look back on my career, I would say the BIGGEST takeaway is that the path to achieving our goals is by no means linear and things DO NOT always work out within the exact timeframes that we plan for. I believe with consistent focus anyone can achieve anything they set their mind to as long as they are patient, persistent, and approach every challenge in life as a learning opportunity.

I enjoy talking with new college graduates about what they want to do after college because it provides the opportunity to dispel the myth that they need to be working in their dream job immediately after they graduate. The fact is, for most people, this rarely happens, so I thinks it’s important to accept and embrace the possibility of a non-linear career path, especially in the early years.

If I could predict the future, I would, but I’m glad I can’t. I think we become better through our obstacles and non-linear pathways. It’s very satisfying and humbling to have had the opportunities I’ve had in life – I do not take it for granted and I thank God everyday for it. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m SUPER excited about this next path in the journey with my new firm. Time to get to work! Cheers – KM

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