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Your Approval Hang-Up is Killing Your Career (and what to do about it)

Stop recruiting

There are people in your life who just won’t be supportive of your choices. You try and explain your side of things, but, dammit, you just can’t seem to get through to them.

Consider this: maybe your biggest problem isn’t unsupportive naysayers. Maybe it’s you. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Are you hung up on getting everyone’s approval for your decisions?

If so, stop recruiting. The only person who has to get behind your decisions is you.

I’m not saying ignore your obligations. If you have a spouse, involve him or her in your decisions. Feed your kids. Pay your bills. But don’t wait for an endorsement, a seal of approval, a pat on the back from everyone in your life. Because, honey, it ain’t gonna happen. Some people just aren’t going to get it, and that’s okay.

I had a client – I’ll call her April – who was jazzed about finance. She happily envisioned her future career in finance – her office, her colleagues, and even what shoes she would wear. I would rather eat a solid diet of cat food than work in finance. It’s not my thing. Had I tried to talk April out of pursuing this career (which obviously I didn’t do), she would have been right to totally disregard my opinion and keep on truckin’.

Another client of mine, Adam, was hung up on what his two sets of friends would think about his career decisions. He had a set of hippie friends and a set of yuppie friends. If he worked in business, he thought he’d get flack from his hippie friends. If he worked in the arts, he imagined his yuppie friends would look down on him. By worrying about what everyone else thought, he was giving away all of his power.

If you’re trying to seek someone’s approval or endorsement for your choices, stop. Stop externalizing your decision-making. Stop giving away your power.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which every single person you knew was supportive of your decisions, no matter what you did. Imagine that you didn’t have to take flack from anyone, disappoint anyone, or impress anyone. Or pretend that everyone was so concerned with his or her own business that they wouldn’t pay any notice to your own career choices.

What would you choose if nobody was looking? tweet it

Psst. That’s probably the thing you should be doing.


This is an excerpt from Careergasm: A Course for Discovering Your Calling.


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