Career planning is difficult enough. Career planning with other people’s opinions and society expectations…can feel impossible.
When it comes to decision-making, it can be easy to crowdsource opinions. As high achievers and perfectionists, this can be additionally difficult because not only are we looking for more information voice; we are looking for validation.
A common obstacle for young adults when choosing a career path can be disappointing their parents. And I was very lucky in this department. My parents have always been extremely supportive of all my career choices, even when my choice was to work temporary jobs to travel the world.
I, however, have felt a lot of pressure from many other sources including strangers, acquaintances, friends, and society as a whole.
Before we start, I want to talk about the underlying current of why criticism is hurtful. Criticism is hurtful because we either have insecurity about it or believe that a part of it is true. If it doesn’t apply to your life, it isn’t hurtful. For example, if you are not a gambler and see a ton of ads regarding the negative effects of gambling on health and family. In Canada, there are a ton of ads that promote the line “Know your limit, play within it.” However, if you are not a gambler, that line probably doesn’t sound critical or preachy and it probably doesn’t bother you because it doesn’t apply to you. But, if you are someone that has had a past issue with gambling, that tagline might sound preachy or critical.
So when we feel hurt by criticism or our career choices, it’s usually because it touches upon an underlying doubt that we have internalized. And having doubt is not shameful. I don’t want you to read or listen to this and think all you have to do is “ignore what other people think” and “think positively.” It is not something we have to be shameful about ourselves but it’s important to manage in order to not hinder our careers.
Let’s get started!
1. Know That Most People Want What’s Best For You + Seek Constructive Criticism
The first way to stop caring what other people think about your career choices is if people want the best for you and know most people who love you really do want the best for you. This is especially true of most parents. The dichotomy for criticism arises when they have differing opinions about what is best for you but most people who love you have good intentions. And that’s the first step when you want to stop caring what other people think about your career, is to understand where it’s coming from and take in criticism objectively.
Every career path has pros and cons. Every career path comes with sacrifices and learning how to see the other side and take in criticism is a really important skill to learn in life. It doesn’t mean you have to agree and do what your parents want, but it’s important to understand where the criticism comes from. Is it because your career path isn’t stable and other people want you to have job security? That’s not a negative thing. It’s a valid doubt that can be managed through having a savings account to mitigate risk or having a backup plan. It’s important not to antagonize criticism and instead manage it.
This is also particularly important because when you are in an industry following a certain career path because it’s easy to get into an echo chamber. So seek constructive criticism from people you really trust and love so that you can manage the doubt instead of trying to erase it. This can be your parents, or your relatives, friends, or partner.
2. Understand That Taking Actions Based On Other’s Opinions Will Limits Your Growth
On the topic of well-intentioned pieces of career advice out there is “Do What Your Good At”. And I’ve spoken extensively on what this is one of the worst pieces of career advice out there but you don’t need to choose a career because you are “good at it.” You’re career should be something you are willing to work hard towards, not just what you are naturally good a because 1) you may not like it. Or 2) you might be “good” at a lot of things.
And this goes back to the fact that most people do want the best for you. When they see talent in someone they love, it’s natural to want to encourage it because you want them to be successful. I have been on the reciprocating and the giving side of this conversation. I have been the person on the other side and I’ve had to learn that there’s a difference between encouraging and pushing someone in a career path that they might greatly excel in, but is not for them. On the other hand, I’ve also had people push and encourage me to a certain career path that wasn’t for me, but with good intentions.
For example, I love to travel and did a lot of travelling when I was young. A lot of people encouraged me to be a travel blogger because they want to see me be successful and knew I loved it, but I really didn’t like the work or lifestyle.
When you are trying to stop caring what other people think about your career, remember you only have so much time to put into your career development. If you spend 100% of your time doing things you don’t like, that’s what you will develop your expertise in and you won’t have the time to dedicate to developing the skills you want.
3. Embrace Your Career Story
Your career spans a lifetime, non just what you do in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s. It can and should change as your life priorities and circumstances change so there will be new chapters with new obstacles and experiences. When it comes to stop caring about what people think about your career, remember that this is a story that will change and evolve over your lifetime so it’s okay to have continued to have doubts and know that the doubts from others will always come.
Embrace your career narrative and the challenges that will come along with it. Instead of focusing on what others think and their impact, focus on developing career confidence to overcome any career obstacle.
Needing some extra help in your career development without caring what other people think? Make sure to book a free Career Clarity Call with me to overcome the self-doubt to truly achieve your dream career and life.