If you let them, there will always be someone to tell you what you should do with your life. Where you should work, where you should go to school, what kind of car you should buy, and how to live every other part of your life.
If you let them.
The decisions you make about your life have an impact on you, not them. Only you can decide if you should change your major, start a company, pursue a specific career, or quit your job to travel around the world.
Some people will encourage you to take a path because they care for you and feel that is the safer path. Some people will push you to not try because your success would make them look bad. Others will push you down a path because it is what they did, and they did it because it’s what their friends or parents did.
The key point is that it’s up to you. No path is set in stone. There isn’t a right one or a wrong one. Do your research and weigh the pros and cons. Sometimes the road less taken is the best path and sometimes it isn’t.
Your friends or parents might tell you it is a bad idea because they’ve never done it. They’ll tell you “that’s just not what people do”. But they’ve never done it, so how would they know? Every new idea has to start from somewhere.
I’ve found that when trying something new, the risks are usually overestimated and benefits are underestimated. When I quit my job in Tokyo to move to the tropical island of Okinawa, many of my friends and family thought I was crazy. Why would I give up a good job and move someplace where I didn’t know anyone? I had a stable job in Tokyo and was making progress. To many of my friends and family, I was committing professional suicide. I wasn’t surprised, I received this same response when I moved to Japan.
It didn’t all work out the way I thought. My initial business goal was harder than I thought, and there also wasn’t much work available. So, I started my own English school, helped small businesses with marketing, worked as a snorkel guide,and even had the chance to work with the Japanese Coast Guard on an international indecent.
I learned to play the Shamisen (a traditional Japanese instrument) the ukulele, started a blog to teach Japanese, and spent many days swimming and snorkeling in the one of the most beautiful places in the world. I got married and met amazing people who became close friends.
A trip down the “wrong” path will be a great learning experience. If you realize it isn’t the right path, take a different direction. It’s true, you can’t get the time (and maybe money) back, but if you learn from it, its time (and money) well spent.
After five years in Okinawa, I moved back to the United States and found a job as director of sales and marketing for a small company before starting my own marketing company. I just finished an MBA. Did I give up five years of work and promotion at my job in Tokyo? Yes, but the experiences I gained in Okinawa were far greater. More importantly, it was great because it is the path that I chose.
In the end, it really is the experiences that count. I learned a lot and wouldn’t change any of the paths I chose. I am who I am today because of them.
Many of us experience a lot of anxiety because we are worried about making the right decision. We worry about choosing the right college, the right job, the right neighborhood to buy a house, the right way to raise our kids. Peer pressure makes these decisions even harder.
But there is something worse that making the wrong decision: making no decision at all. Once you make a decision, you can adapt it and change it as you learn. You gain experience and knowledge.
When you make no decision, you don’t move. You can waste endless energy thinking it over in your head, but nothing happens until you make a decision and take action.
If something works well, there is no reason to change it. But if it doesn’t, change it. Don’t do it just because everyone else does. Making your own rules and finding better ways to do things tips the game of life in your favor.
Asking for advice and help is perfectly okay, but don’t let the naysayers get you down. Seek out people who have already done what you want to do. They’ll be more likely to share their experience than tell you it can’t be done.
If you are unhappy with your job, your school, or another part of your life, change it.
There are always options, and not all of them involve quitting. You may be unhappy at your job because you struggle with some of the main tasks. Improving your skills and getting better at your job will help you enjoy your job more and make you more successful. You could also focus more on the parts of the job you do like. I’m not saying quitting isn’t the answer, but there might be other options to consider as well.
Bottom line, what you do and how you live your life is up to you. If it feels like it isn’t, then you are probably living your life by other people’s standards.