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Your Approval Hang-Up Is Killing Your Career

12/08/2015 03:54 EST | Updated 12/08/2016 05:12 EST
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An attractive young businesswoman having coffee while working at her office desk

There are people in your life who just won't be supportive of your career 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 or 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 OK.

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 flak 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 flak 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?

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

Published at Careergasm.