by Trevor McKendrick on November 28, 2012
tl;dr To avoid the trap of trying to impress others, make life decisions assuming only you will know what you choose.
When making long-term decisions we are often influenced by the opinions of others. Parents, siblings, ex-girlfriends, former employers — even the people we see at high school reunions. We want to look “good” in their eyes, whatever that means. This is one reason why people generally like to work at big companies, receive job titles and collect college degrees.
Unfortunately this can lead us down a path of unhappiness. If we make decisions based on the thoughts of others we subject our emotional well-being to their opinions.
Instead, we might be happier if we made decisions based on this idea: If no one found out what my choice was, would I still do it?
Now, I do understand the value in building a personal brand by speaking at conferences, writing book introductions, etc.
But when you’re thinking about going to a big name school that might not be directly in your career path, or looking for a promotion because you’ve always wanted to be “an executive VP”, take a moment to pause and ask yourself why you want that thing.
If it’s not because it will make you happy, you probably shouldn’t go for it.