I made the mistake of saying this to my children, and of course they made one. Fortunately, this mistake is a small fender bender or easy to hit the undo button. In a conversation with a young coworker, I said it, and she looked a bit befuddled, as everyone tells her that and she has no idea what it means.

To better understand this notion of making mistakes while young, let us first explore what we mean by “making a mistake.” In life, you are going to make some adult-level decisions, things like whether to go to college, what college to attend, and what major to choose. At 18 and sometimes 17, these are very adult choices that can determine a lot of the outcome of your life. The interesting thing about many of these is that they are easily changed.

Transferring colleges is not too difficult. If you picked the wrong school, it may bother you or upset you, but it is easy to leave at the end of the semester, take time off, or find a different school. At the end of the day, when someone looks at your resume, they are looking that you got a degree, not how many schools it took you to obtain it. Both of my kids transferred, and one happened to transfer multiple times.

And the decisions do not stop with college. Even after taking your first job, it is not a life sentence. Larger companies have opportunities to transfer, or you have the option of finding a new job. I understand not everyone has the same options, as some may be locationally challenged or face other obstacles in finding a new job.

Now, when I use the term “young,” I am not necessarily referring to chronological age. In many cultures, age determines adulthood, such as at 13 in the Jewish culture or 17 for a driver’s license, 18 for voting, and 21 for drinking alcohol. In Japan turning twenty is known as “Seijin no Hi” or coming of age day, were they dress in traditional attire and attend ceremonies. And the last example is the Amish who at 16 you are seen as transitioning to adulthood, they go through a period called Rumspringa where they can start to explore the outside world.

What I mean by “young” is that you have options open due to the lack of other dependents. Once you have a significant other and/or a family, the decisions are no longer about you. This is a time when it is important for you to have conversations with someone else. I was fortunate to have two of these with my late wife. The first was her changing careers where we set up a plan for her to go back to school and become a teacher. The second was when I was offered a job in NY City, which would reduce the time and flexibility of being closer.

In the end, the key is to remember that the freedom to make mistakes when you are young is not a license to be reckless, but more permission to explore and find your path. Make the choice knowing that you can change your mind or change direction without beating yourself up about it. This should give you the freedom to make decisions without second-guessing. There is a difference between being reckless and freedom, knowing the difference is for another lesson.


This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain; I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback; but it is moderated.  

This Blog is a labor of love and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information. Images without notes are created using an AI tool that allows me to reuse them.