You can’t succeed if you don’t try. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Or something like that. There are plenty of songs about it, as well as movies, but for good reason. Because it is true! And we’ve got the stories to prove it.
Deciding to take a leap of faith can be a difficult thing, because no matter what, there is never a true guarantee in life of what exactly the outcome of a chance will be. With this in mind, the potentially paralyzing fear of the unknown can cause many to hesitate and miss their chances in life. We don’t believe that is what life is about, however, so here are some of the most inspiring stories about the times people took chances and it paid great dividends in their life, as told by Reddit users. Hopefully these stories can provide some motivation for those out there in need of a little push.
40. Shooting For The Trees
I was hitchhiking and got a lift from a tree surgeon. I thought that sounded fun, so I called the first tree surgeon in the yellow pages that night, and asked them how one becomes a tree surgeon. They started me on a training course at 7am the next day.
39. Changing The Environment
Up until January this year, I was depressed and feeling stuck in my hometown which was pretty much a dead end in every aspect.
Made the move to a new town (Austin, TX if anybody is curious) with only one friend (who moved away a few months after) to try to start back up with school and to just boost my moral and get me out of this sinkhole that I’d been in. I felt like I was a lifeless zombie compared to what I had been back in my hometown due to home life, and relationships, and my crappy job.
I made the move, and within a month I stumbled upon the woman that even my wildest dreams don’t compare to, and months later finally landed a job that didn’t drain me mentally, I’m still not in the best place I’ve been, but I’ve got the recipe for success/happiness now and don’t feel like anything can stop me. 🙂
38. For The Love Of Animals
Came home from work one day and applied for a job an an animal shelter ( I love animals but I didn’t have any experience). Landed the job and quit my high paying sales job the next week.
Ended up learning a lot at that place and took me towards a career in the animal care field. I earn better money than I did at my sales job and I get to spend my days working with animals
37. Bold Move In The Hospital
Was taking an optative pediatric radiology rotation for my subspecialty, boss comes in and starts asking the senior doctors who should she hire (she gave two options and the doctors didn’t think they were good fits for them), jokingly I said “you should hire me” and now it’s been 15 days since I started working for that hospital.
This came at my moment of need, Sub isn’t paying me enough (went from earning 12,000 MXN as a resident to being paid 9,000 MXN as a certified radiologist doing a sub in pediatric radiology) and I was very close to quitting and going back home, with this I have quadrupled the money I was earning and I have used my first paycheck to pay all the debt I had with a bank.
36. Skipping College
I just walked with my CV in and out of places around the local industrial area of my town looking for full-time work after I had graduated highschool (I was working at a Domino’s at the time), I am now a full-time employed Graphic Designer with no student loan!
35. Head Hunting
Not sure if this counts but here it is anyways. I was working a dead end job at a hotel front desk after getting out of the Navy where I was a diesel mechanic. I got a phone call from a headhunter. I have never had good luck with head hunters but I figured I would give it one more try.
I had nothing to lose seeing as I already had a job so I said screw it and went along with the process. The job opening was literally my dream job but I figured that I had no shot at it. I went through three phone interviews and one in person interview.
I had worked all night right before the in person interview so I went home and went to bed right afterwards. Two hours later I got a phone call offering me the job at a higher salary than I initially asked for. I start tomorrow morning.
34. Following The Footsteps
Working at a shop making furniture. It’s alright, three day weekends, pay isn’t bad but it’s not amazing either. Just enough to get by. The actual job though is just monotonous as hell. Same stuff every week.
My parents are building a house. During one of the meetings with the architect she mentions that it’s so hard finding reliable help these days in my hometown. They’ve gone through like three CAD techs in the last two years. My dad mentions that I have experience with CAD, I used to do a little bit of it out of high school. He shoots me an email and tells me essentially “Hey, you should give this a shot, worst thing that happens is they say no.”
I haven’t touched AutoCAD in the better part of a decade, figure I don’t even have a chance. Go up to visit my folks for the 4th, have an interview that Friday. Longest interview of my life (like almost two hours…) Most of it was chit chat but at the end of it they said they really liked what they saw so expect an email with some practice work. Get the email, buy a “AutoCAD for dummies” book and get to work on the drawings. It was a little rough at first but it all started coming back pretty quick. Send in the drawings, they ask for another couple examples, do those, they call to make an offer and I accept. I start on the 13th.
It’s not much more than I’m making now but I’ll be taking my breaks standing up instead of sitting down, I’ll be following in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps (which I think is pretty neat), I get to move back to my hometown (with better cost of living an near most of my family and a few friends that stuck around) and have a job that isn’t at a factory or retail (which is a pretty big deal, it’s a small town).
I’m pretty nervous because it’s been so long since I’ve done any serious CAD work and it’s a lot different than the stuff I’m used to (going from drawing gaskets and brackets to houses and bridges). It’s a small company too so I really can’t just slide under the radar for too long. It’s either I get really good quickly or I’m out. The way I figure it though is I’ve made it this far so why not keep going?
33. Getting Over Those Coffee Jitters
My girlfriend met a guy at her work who is opening a coffee shop. I worked for several years in the specialty coffee industry and have a lot of good connections, but just moved to a new town for university and I’m out of the industry for now. Anyways she got his contact information and he wanted me to contact him so I did.
We talked quite a bit about what he is trying to do and I find out he has some very shady dude trying to get all up in his business (literally) but since this guy is very very new to coffee he had no idea what certain quality and business practices this roaster lacked. So I used some connections and set him up with a fantastic roaster an hour away where the current US Roasting Champion is actually the director of coffee.
Long story short he switched to the nice place, bought a ton of nice equipment (Unic Stella Di Kaffe 2, Mythos Clima One) and now wants me to run all of the coffee at his shop! If I had just told him good luck when he mentioned the roaster he was using he would have moved forward with awful equipment and bad coffee. Instead he’s now on pace to be one of the nicest coffee shops in the state and I’ll be back in the industry.
32. Finding a Niche
Basically my career. I took a very niche IT/Finance job straight out of college not knowing anything about the field. It was a field centered around an obscure software product that other companies used. I just needed a job and gave it a shot. I ended up loving it and became an expert of the field. About a year and a half in, the “obscure software” got bought out by a major software player, which legitimized the product and created a huge demand for people like me.
I was able to stay at the original job and negotiate a huge amount of money to stay put. I have my dream life/job in my 20s all because my mom showed me a job listing one day. We don’t come from much so it’s very humbling. I will enjoy it as long as it lasts.
31. Ivy League Leap
I applied to Columbia seven hours before the New Year’s deadline, and despite not editing the essay, not knowing Columbia was an Ivy League, and technically turning in a good deal of it late, I somehow got accepted.
Still trying to figure that one out.
30. Dental Rejection Works For The Best
I spent my entire life wanting to be a dentist, but I got rejected from dental school and it crushed me. Decided to give med school a try and applied somewhat late in the cycle, and spent all my savings on applications and interviews. It’s been ten years since I made that decision and I’m so glad I went through with it.
29. 26 Years Later…
My biggest was when I saw this cute girl at a resort bar in the Florida Keys, I wedged myself in next to her to order a drink and started a conversation.
We’re married 26 years as of earlier this month.
Any more recent shots pale in comparison.
28. Doesn’t Hurt To Apply
Two years ago, I applied to a super competitive master’s program. I didn’t have the grades or anything, but took a chance. Ended up getting in after being placed in the waitlist. I graduated and I’m now preparing for my boards… anything is possible.
27. Family Comes First
Worked up the guts to let my employer know I need more time off work to take care of a family member. I’m really non confrontational so I was really worried about it.
Currently watching baseball with my dad at home
26. Banana Bread Pick Up
There was this girl that I kind of fancied for a while from high school (a few years ago), and then one day just decided to talk to her and whatnot; got into a great rolling conversation that lasted days, and I did end up bragging about my banana bread. That lead to her wanting to come over to see if it was that good, and we just hit it off even better in person and she liked my banana bread and we’ve been dating for almost nine months now.
25. Catching The Full Ride
On a school trip to the local community college for their “Business Leadership” day, I signed up for every single test (they had prizes) and ended up winning a full-ride scholarship despite only having half a year of accounting I under my belt.
24. Going In Cold
Cold contacting a company to see if they had a position available.
They couldn’t offer a long term position but the few months I worked there on a short term project gave me enough money to get back on my feet.
Also my unemployment came through after that (where I live it’s apparently okay to work temp or part time while waiting for the first payment).
Now I’m financially in a position to take many more shots to improve my life further.
23. Is This Seat Taken?
During my 2L year of law school I went to a lunch meeting in a classroom with probably 120 seats available and only ten occupied. There was a really beautiful brunette sitting in the very back row alone. While it would have potentially seemed really weird to sit right next to her I decided to give it a shot in the off-chance she might end up interested in me. We started talking, introduced each other, and ended up grabbing lunch. Two years later I’m looking at engagement rings for that same beautiful brunette.
22. LA Bound
Called an old buddy of mine in LA about a job, unhappy with where I currently am. Ask and you shall receive, I suppose. I am moving 3,000 miles away for an excellent job with an excellent company.
21. Candy Dreams
For the last few years me and my son have been planning our own business. He’s 11 years old so it, naturally, is focused all around candy. Last March I was laid off and sent home with a few months severance. In that time we have finalized our business plan, obtained funding and on Wednesday we are meeting our landlord for the keys to our next store space. It’s a dream all of us (wife, daughter, son and I) have had since he was in first grade, it’s named after him and now we’re going to do it.
Nervous as all hell but we’re taking a shot.
20. Not Taking The Weird Shot
My girlfriend knows a photographer who does huge events. He got us into this Tower Records party. Free drinks. Free Food.
Tons of celebrities. We’re having a good time, and suddenly, Weird Al walks in. My girlfriend points him out, I panic. I tell her not to point. I don’t make eye contact with him. He’s hanging out having a good time. I go outside, and avoid any portion of the party that he’s at. I’m a huge fan, and it was the first time a celebrity being a real person was too much for me. There was a free photo-booth, and my girlfriend said she was going to ask him if he’d go in with us. I’m like, are you crazy? Don’t!
Cut to the end of the party, we meet up with photographer friend. Mostly everybody is gone. My girlfriend is telling him how much fun we had, and thanking him. Then she tells him about Weird Al and how terrified I was to meet him. She tells him her photo booth idea I shot down. Photographer friend says, oh, he’s the friendliest person in the world! I’ve worked with him a bunch! You should have come and got me, I would’ve introduced you. He would have totally done that. He loves his fans.
A regret I will carry with me always, being too freaked out to meet Weird Al.
19. Turns Out, A Lot Of Shots Are Missed
I don’t know about biggest but I got a lot of losing lottery tickets.
18. Comic Success
I’m a brand new indie comic maker. So it was going around to all the local shops the other day and trying to get my first issue on their shelves. So far I’m 3/3!
17. Working On The Railroad
Late as heck to the party, but here is mine. Loved my job. The people I assisted, my coworkers, and its ability to give me purpose. Although after slaving away with no breaks, barely using the restroom, putting up numbers they have never seen before I found out the front desk staff were making more than I was all around, and was given a three percent raise prior as it just wasn’t in the budget. I found the budget as I know everyone there. They made $4.5 million in sheer profit in the last 12 months. I was done. Started looking for jobs at work, taking full lunches, leaving on time, and coming in at my scheduled time. I’m currently sitting in a hotel room awaiting my first day of working on the Railroad. I’ve passed all of my in class tests, and tomorrow is my first day of on the job training. Triple the pay, full benefits for my family, retirement package that’s just shocking, etc.
16. Cicada Shots
My puppy has adopted the yucky habit of hunting cicadas outside and bringing their corpses in to leave on the bed. One morning, when I was making the bed, I discovered one she had brought in during the night. I flicked it in the direction of the trash can and it went in perfectly. I don’t have proof, but it is my contention that I made the shot from well behind the cicada basketball three-point line.
15. You’re Never Fully Stuck
Stuck in a dead end office job, brain was rotting away, career was falling apart, aspirations for life growing dimmer. Applied to over 800 jobs that I wasn’t qualified for over the course of almost two years and eventually made it into a prestigious career path in consulting. Used two years of consulting experience to get into a hyper growth tech company and doubled my salary.
I went from glorified data entry making less than I would have made at a supermarket to well above six figures at a hyper growth tech company just because I never gave up trying to get out of my crappy dead end job—and I saw a lot of people who had given up, there were people getting their ten year long service leaves in that role.
14. Cruising Around
I was on a cruise ship and had made a group of friends for the week, there was one woman who was obviously into the kinkier stuff in the bedroom, one night when we were in the club on the ship she just said “I’d really like to have sex with someone tonight.” After 30 seconds of silence I said “I’ll have sex with you.” It was one of the best sexual experiences I’ve ever had.
13. Laziness Pays Off
I was a lazy nerd who thought he knew better than everyone else, and messed up my grades badly. As a result had to repeat my senior year in High School.
All my friends moved on, and I was stuck with a bunch of new kids for my second senior year. One of them was a cute girl, and we started dating.
We’ve been together for over 20 years, ten of which married. We have traveled all over the world together, and have two great kids.
Failing my senior year really felt bad at the time, but it turns out it set me on a great path in life. It was a shot I didn’t want to take, but great things happened as a result of it.
12. Don’t Let Bosses Put You Down
Applied for a position at my new company that my previous employer told me I was unqualified for and lacked the degree that they’d want ever for someone in that position. Not only did I get the position but I’m currently, singlehandedly building the department and am in talks with one of the owners for a special project for him that will make or break my position with this company.
I’m absolutely scared but thus far I’m seeing a lot of success within this title. Every time I get nervous I call my dad and he reminds me that everyone had to learn what I’m doing at some point; no one is born with the knowledge.
Worst case scenario I don’t immediately advance; best case scenario in six months I’m the head of this department.
11. Going Over Your Head
I recently knew I had a good idea but was meeting resistance from my manager. I skipped her and went to my VP (GM was out for a few weeks). This has taken off more than I expected and am now leading a team to come up with how we can implement my idea in North America. We are also trying to figure out how to influence a global change. When this started to grow my GM said “Wow, you realize this will completely change how the entire company does business, right?”
10. 2 For 1
I can think of two:
First, it was pouring and I already took my pants off (bra was still on—important fact), but I felt bad because I had confirmed plans with this guy earlier in the day. I figured what the heck, worst case scenario it’s free sushi, so I put my pants back on and left my house. I’ve been with him for almost a year now.
(To clarify for you dudes out there, if the bra is off I’m not leaving the house unless it’s for an emergency.)
Second, six months ago I was called into my boss’s office and the Regional manager basically told me it was quit, make more sales, or get fired. I told them I was going to try really hard to get my numbers up. On the drive home I cried, just intensely sobbed for the full hour and a half. I cried when I got home. I cried myself to sleep.
My amazing boyfriend told me it wasn’t worth it and I could just up my hours at my mall job. So the next day I sent my resignation email to my boss. Within a week I got another job paying me way more money. It’s been seven months and I can’t believe I stayed with that company so long. SCREW YOU COMCAST. I’m doing so amazing right now and in the last seven months almost the entire staff has left my old job.
9. Gotta Get Over The Fear Of The Interview
I’ve been an after school program counsellor for three years; my hours are very minimal and only during the school year. I’ve been wanting to get a second job for years but was reluctant because I was terrified of interviews.
I saw a posting for a part time sales associate at my local mall—they were looking for someone who spoke my language. I went in on a whim, handed the store manager my resume, and was immediately given an application to fill out. The store manager was giving me an on the spot informal interview to low-key judge if I was a good fit. I had no prior retail experience, so he was very iffy about that. Anxiety flooded me as I was filling out the application and for the rest of the day. I got a call back a week later for a formal interview.
In less than two weeks I was working decent hours.
This job literally tripled my income, and I’m so happy with my position and coworkers. Others have tried to apply after me, and
I noticed that my manager only gives applications to candidates he sees major potential in. 🙂
8. Probably Not The Best Pick Up Line
Said a woman sitting on the floor drawing in my student center looked cute for a homeless person. Now we’re getting married.
7. Alaska Adventure
Spent my last $1,500 on a plane ticket to Alaska and my first month’s rent and a 1990 Subaru Loyale beater. I had set up a job interview with a guy, but he only took Alaskan residents as workers so I moved there. I ended up making a career out of it.
6. Getting Over Apathy
I’ve got a bunch of these:
Decided to start my own car race team. Five years later, won the championship. Taught myself mechanical engineering in the process, used that to get a job as a racing engineer. Used that experience to write a book.
Went back to the Army so I could go to Afghanistan. After I got back, decided to finish the education that I screwed up when I was a 20-year-old idiot. Got accepted to my former school, graduated nearly 29 years after I first started—set a record for “longest flash to bang” in RMC history.
The biggest obstacle to success is apathy.
5. Wrong Number Works Out
The first call of my job hunt, I dialed a wrong number. Heard the word “Medical” in the company title, which is the field I was looking for. Asked if they had any openings for someone like me. I got hired as an admin assistant, at a wage 20 percent more than I was used to.
That job essentially started my career. Twenty five years later, I’m in research, making a great income for roughly the last 20 years. And it started because I took a shot on a wrong number.
4. Leaving Just To Come Back
Left my comfy job to take a new job for more money. It ended up being a complete nightmare and nothing like it was supposed to be. My previous employer wanted me to come back, and gave me a $4/hour raise to make sure I wouldn’t want to leave again. Weird how things worked out, but I’m glad I took the initial risk. Life, uh, found a way.
3. Hollywood Here I Come
Everything in my life kind of ended at the same time. I got out of the military, my marriage ended… those were the two biggies, but across the board my responsibilities just sort of… reset. So after I spent some of my GI Bill doing the “smart” thing and getting a job in the trades, I decided to spend the rest finally doing something with my life that I want to do.
So, in my 30s, I applied to an acting school in LA. I figured I’d at least have experience on my side at the audition, but some 17-year-old girl had been doing it since she was two. TWO!
Well, I apparently impressed the right people and I leave for LA in October. I’ve gotten some really optimistic feedback about my potential but I’m trying not to be naive. Still, I’m more excited about this than anything I can ever remember doing… so glad I took the chance on me.
2. From Rejection To Doctor
My biggest (not most recent) was when I got rejected from the nursing program at my local university. Wasn’t good enough for nursing, which is very competitive to get into, but they offered me a spot in the faculty of science. I was going to decline.
My husband encouraged me to use the opportunity to work towards my lifelong dream. So we scrounged up the deposit to secure my spot and despite having a couple of very young kids at home, I threw myself into full time studies and earned really good grades from the get-go.
This spring I graduated from medical school and am currently having an absolute blast in residency.
Wasn’t good enough for nursing, but I’m a pretty decent doctor so far. 🙂
1. Getting In The VIP At South By Southwest
Most of my moments like this deal with interviews as a part-time entertainment writer.
I’ve learned the worst a publicist can do is not see my email, or say no. Back when SXSW was prepping, I was talking with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s people to set up an interview and even though they said there wasn’t time for me after initially saying I could have a few minutes, I was at least invited to the VIP after party.
That same weekend, I kept hammering for an interview with Ethan Hawke only to go unanswered. Saw the screening and who do I see walking down after to speak with him? None other than Richard Linklater.
I notice the security guard won’t let him past the backstage door since he doesn’t have the proper credentials. So, there I am standing next to one of my favorite directors and one of his friends. I didn’t want to fanboy too much, so we just chat a bit about the movie. Once we’re in the lobby, who’s there to greet him? Yep, Ethan Hawke.
Here’s my chance to ask a question. I promptly ask and get a nice response. He puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Thanks, man.”
I then turn to leave but then finally notice the friend standing next to Linklater, it’s David Lowery, the director of A Ghost Story—one of my favorites from last year.
That turns into my conversation of the night, talking about his early career and what he thought of the movie afterward. Didn’t ask for a picture with any of them, just lived in the moment.
SXSW is what dreams are made of.