Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finishing What You Start

I was speaking with a friend last night - a friend who had been engaged, but broke the engagement a few days later. He brought it up in conversation and proceeded to tell me what had happened, why he broke the engagement, and mentioned another friend who had recently done the same. While obviously it would have been better to have never been engaged in the first place, this is a case "of better now than later" - or never.

But in general, what happens when someone makes a long-term decision... but years later, regrets that decision and decides to drop that life plan and switch to another? As an example, let's use a medical student who, after four years of medical school, decides that medicine is not the path they think is best for them. Rather than do a residency, they switch to another path. Is there something wrong with doing this? I think there is not. I think the person has made a wise switch, recognizing that this simply wasn't for them, even if originally they thought it was. Did they blow a lot of their own - or even their parents' - money? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean they must now be unhappy or do what is not best for them.

At the same time, there are exceptions to this: If someone agreed to a deal with another person, they cannot renege on that deal simply because it became "too hard" - and certainly, if they never planned on completing the deal in the first place, they should never enter into it. But if they went into the deal in good faith, but at some later point they feel that the other party is letting them down, and are willing to forfeit whatever else is due to them from that other party... then why should they not be permitted to back out? There is a fine line between 'too hard' and 'uninterested', but nevertheless, I think that such a line does exist. Obviously, this also requires a clear understanding of what one's expectations were vs. what has actually occurred, but assuming that one's expectations were reasonable, I don't see why they cannot now change their mind.

A good friend, however, disagrees. This friend feels that once a person has signed on to doing something, they must complete it - so long as they are not completely miserable. While I hear their point, I disagree. Am I way off base?