The 5 Stages of Turning Down My Dream Job

Two weeks ago, while in Tokyo, for whatever reason, I got the urge to click on a folder I only glance every few months or so, at the most – my spam folder. Inside, I found a job offer. Not just any offer, though. It was THE job offer. The one I applied for with trembling fingers, feeling the weight of my future career, all the way back in April of 2012.

This was the job that I once dreamed about, thought about before bed every night. The job that I read about, studied, wrote about, talked about, took classes about…you name it. I wanted to work for his particular organization more than anything, from about 2009 through early 2014.

Just after I quit my full-time corporate position and struck out on my own last winter, I realized that I was SO much happier being able to control my schedule, find unique clients, and pursue projects that I actually enjoy.

So, another year and a half later, I get “the job.” When I first read the email, I went through an entire rollercoaster of emotions, and here’s what happened:

Step 1: Pure excitement. Ohmigod! I got the job. I got THE job. I have to tell my husband. And my parents. And Facebook. And the entire world! Because I got it! Three and a half years after my first application, I got it! Wow! THIS IS SO COOL. I’M BECOMING JACK BAUER. I’M GOING TO FINALLY BE COOL AND INTERESTING AND BADASS.

Step 2: Wait. I just purchased a house. One that has been a huge pain to renovate, and I definitely planned on living here for a little bit. And we moved because my husband got a new job. So that means we’d have to sell or rent THIS new house and he’d have to quit his NEW job and we’d have to start all over again? Damn. That kind of stinks.

Step 3: BUT OMG THE JOB IS SO COOL. I’m totally going to say “yes.” What am I waiting for, right? Life doesn’t just happen – you have to MAKE it happen! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who cares if the salary is low? Who needs stuff! I can make it work! (I basically just said a whole string of cliches to myself for the next few minutes…)

Step 3: Wait. So I’d have to work….regular hours? I’d have to set an alarm and pack a lunch? And how many hours a day would I get to hang out with Winnie (our dog)? 2 or 3? That sounds awful. Does this mean I’m lazy? Going to an office isn’t so bad, right? Right?

Step 4: Wrong. And while we’re on the topic… it took them 3 years to get back to me. THREE years I’ve been waiting for an answer. And how long for them to do my background check, and finally get me into a training class? Another 3? I do not have time for that.


Okay, when I consider the pros and cons, I’m not sure the pros are victorious anymore. Trading in a flexible, creative, ever-changing workload for a regular 9-5 a bureaucratic pocket of our government just doesn’t sound fun anymore…and fun is important, especially when it comes to how you spend 1/3 or more of your day.


My goals have changed, my life has changed, and I’ve changed – and that’s okay. Actually, it’s awesome. I think I’m going to let creativity and quality of life trump “cool” – I’ve put a lot of hard work into figuring out who I am and what I want to do, and I’m not about to trade it all in for something that, most likely, would be just “okay.”

UPDATE: It’s been over a week since I said “no” – and I honestly have thought more about putting this blog post together than I have the job. While I still wish the timing and the offer aligned better (I probably would have said “yes” if it had), I am not ready to change my life for something that would send us many miles from home, barely seeing one another, and with little to no control over our schedules.

Right now, every evening, we take a drive to the beach with our pup and take a walk or sit on the rocks and watch the sky change color, talking about our day and enjoying a book from our new local library. I bought a bike, so that I can enjoy the two-mile ride to the beach even more than I already do, smelling the salty air as we get closer. And we just found the best ice cream either of us have ever had (other than gelato in Italy, because obviously) just a short drive away from the beach.

That’s all my roundabout way of saying “no” – no to moving, no to missing my family no to uprooting my husband and dog, no to missing out on my blog and my work and my friends, no to a regular schedule…and “yes” to the life I’ve built (and the dream job I’ve created
all while waiting for this job offer.mm198_chart