Giving up your goals for those of Another

Earlier this year I was accepted into Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business to participate in their MBA program. This was a great accomplishment for me (as I have not been a student for some time) and something which I always wanted to do. With that, I also knew that I would have to make some compromises concerning the current job positions I hold and that I would have to figure out ways to work around them to allow myself to talk to random people continue bringing in an income while going to school, as one of my primary concerns was that I did not want to incur student loan debt to go back to school as I saw it fairly counter-productive (this is arguable and different for everyone and every situation, that’s not what this is about).

To switch topics briefly (don’t worry, they’ll merge momentarily), my Fiancee, ever since I first met her, has expressed her life long goal of attending Vet School and becoming a Large Animal Veterinarian though she also had a desire to finish her current path in school and move into the corporate world and felt that doing Vet School ‘on her own’ just wouldn’t be feasible. Not to brag, but she’s a brilliant woman, she graduated with a degree in Medicinal Chemistry and landed a job at one of the world’s largest Pharmaceutical Companies that pays a nice starting salary and provides and excellent benefits package (the reason for our recent relocation across the country, as noted in previous stories). There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind, or anyone else that knows her, that should she apply herself, she could easily be accepted into one of the top ten Vet Schools in the United States.

So here’s where our stories merge. I was planning on starting Duke in Fall and scaling back on my contracting work and relying on her job to off-set the income, a plan of which she was completely supportive of and always encouraged me to do. As the planning went on, between what she expressed and what I observed, though she had been excelling in her position and constantly impressing her colleagues, I knew that she would not be happy in the Pharmaceutical profession in the long term. So there came the dilemma, do I go to Duke to get my MBA, a degree that, while it would satisfy me, would not immediately advance my own career (I own my own company), or instead do I continue to work and encourage my Fiancee to finish her dream of becoming a Large Animal Veterinarian. Well, I think the answer is pretty obvious to anyone with a heart whom loves their spouse.

I thanked Duke for their interest and consideration in me, notified them that I would not be attending, and informed my Fiancee of my decision. At first, she was very reluctant to believe that I would give up the opportunity and even felt angry to a degree that I would throw it away ‘for her’, not wanting the guilt associated with it. But with it came a new responsibility for her, and something I think she needed, and some of those in her family felt she needed as well, that by me doing so she would be motivated to finally move forwards towards Vet School with fervency and dedication and make her Dream a reality.

With this arrangement, I will continue to be able to work and bring in money to pay for her Vet School and she’ll be able to leave her job (after an appropriate amount of time, we don’t want her burning any bridges by leaving relatively shortly after coming on board by choice) and dedicate herself completely to Vet School. It’s pretty much a perfect situation when everything is considered and weighed for what it truly is. Also, as a business decision, in the end her degree in Vet Medicine will also be much more profitable than what I’d be using my MBA for (an executive resume for our corporation) and give us the freedom and flexibility to relocate where we’d like at a later point in life.

So I guess the moral of the story is, when faced with such a situation, don’t just look at it at face value and from your own selfish point of view, consider the ultimate outcome and what it really means to both parties and take your own feelings out of the equation. You’ll end up making a rational decision that you should not regret and one that should end up being beneficial to both parties.


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