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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

5 Reasons You Should Stop Seeking Other People's Approval for Your Career Choices

There are a lot of confident people in the world. But, I think even they would agree that we all want at least a little bit of acceptance, support, and recognition. It’s human nature to crave a pat on the back and that stamp of approval that reassures us we really are making the correct decision—no matter how scary it seems.

But, you don’t need me to tell you that not everybody is going to give you that encouraging, “Go get ’em!” when you make a choice—particularly when it comes to your career.

In fact, when I decided to quit my full-time marketing position in favor of freelancing, the majority of people I talked with told me what an idiot I was for leaving the comfort and security of my current gig for a life full of uncertainty. But, I did it anyway.

That’s right, when it comes to those big, scary career choices, you often need to stand on your own two feet. And, if you find yourself constantly searching for that reassurance and approval from others, you’ll likely only wind up disappointed.

So, here are five reasons why you should stop seeking that career justification and move on—whether your mom approves or not.

1. It’s Your Life

Let’s just get this part out of the way right off the bat: You’re grown up now. And, while being an adult comes with its fair share of downsides (hello, bills and grocery shopping), it’s balanced out with a few perks—like the fact that you now have the ability to make decisions completely on your own.

You no longer have to run your choices up the flagpole in order to get the go-ahead to move forward. Instead, you can weigh your options and choose the route that you think works best. Yes, some of those decisions will work out great, and some might throw you a few curveballs. But, the important part is that you’re forging your own path in life.

So, it’s time to hold your head high and make the best choices for you—because you can do that now.

2. It Has No Impact

This Thanksgiving, I was sitting with my husband’s family around the dinner table when that dreaded question popped up again. My husband’s grandma looked at me and said, “Alright, now tell me, what exactly do you do again?”

We’ve had this same conversation at least eight separate times. And, we never really get anywhere. I mean, just try explaining content marketing to a 93-year-old woman who has yet to grasp what the internet even is. It’s an interesting challenge.

Sure, I’d love if she had a better understanding of and appreciation for how I spend my days and pay my bills—and it’d definitely make those holiday conversations a lot easier.

But, in the end, her approval and opinion has no impact on my actual career. I still write. I still book clients. I still cash checks. And, I keep moving forward—even if it means constantly trying to explain what a blog is over my plate of turkey.

3. It Emphasizes Biased Opinions

Of course, people base their decisions and outlooks on their own values—it’s why we don’t always see eye-to-eye. And, there’s definitely a big difference between considering someone else’s opinion and accepting it as gospel truth. After all, what’s important to one person may not be as important to the next.

Maybe you’re thrilled with the opportunity to work in a startup environment. But, your conservative dad? He thinks it’s way too risky. Perhaps your friends tell you that your prospective job offer isn’t paying enough. However, the money isn’t even what drew you to your line of work—you’re fulfilled and rewarded in many other ways.

It’s crucial to remember that our views of the world are colored by our own individual beliefs and ideals. So, there’s no reason to let someone else’s lens completely distort your picture.

4. It Hinders Your Confidence

No matter how many classroom posters it’s printed on, there really aren’t too many people out there who subscribe to the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” philosophy. Most are quick to jump in with a negative comment or objection—no matter how uninformed or ungrounded.

Those snap judgments and disapproving remarks can quickly erode your self-esteem. And, if it’s directed toward a decision you’ve already made and followed through on, that negativity certainly won’t help you dive into your new endeavor with confidence.

There’s nothing wrong with weighing others’ opinions in order to ensure you’ve looked at your situation from multiple angles. But, don’t allow someone else’s sour attitude to totally destroy your positivity and enthusiasm.

5. It’s Not What’s Most Important

It’s really only natural to want to rake in the compliments about how accomplished, driven, innovative, and successful you are. But, if you get so wrapped up in garnering that ego boost from others, you’re only losing sight of the one person you truly need acceptance and approval from: Yourself.

In the end, it’s your life and your career. You’re the one who needs to live with your decisions from here on out. And, nobody really knows you the way that you do.

So, focus on the choices that make you feel happy and fulfilled, and forget the rest. Because when it all boils down, you’re the only one who needs to approve. Well, you and maybe your boss.

Yes, there’s a lot to be said for the importance of talking over the pros and cons of your career decisions in order to make a thoughtful and careful selection. But, when you let other peoples’ opinions and reactions turn into your be-all end-all? Well, that’s when you might wind up unhappy.

So, stop seeking justification of your career choices from others and move forward with what you think is best. Take it from me—proving those naysayers wrong is one of the greatest rewards.

Photo of man thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.

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