This is part seven of a seven-part series on the most common mistakes I see people making when changing careers.

When it comes to changing careers, one of the most unfortunate mistakes I see people commit is making decisions based on how other people will perceive their choices.

And I can totally relate. There was a point in my own career when I was totally maxed out. I knew I needed to get out of event planning, but I had not yet figured out the next step.

I spent the better part of a year trying to figure this out. Would I change companies? Maybe. Would I change industries? Definitely. 

After months of reflection, several meetings with my mentor, and countless hours on Google, I finally got some clarity. I decided that working in marketing would be my next step.

For the next six months, I took every opportunity I could to get enough experience in marketing to be qualified for the industry. When a job that was perfect for me was posted, I rocked the application, crushed the interview, and got the job.

Now, there were plenty of people who were happy for me. But there were also a few who were critical of my decision. You see, I had become a manager in event planning. In their eyes, giving up that position to be a regular employee in marketing was a step down.

It wasn’t easy listening to their opinions.

Fortunately, I had taken that year to figure out what I wanted, so I wasn’t swayed by the naysayers. Without that clarity, it would have been much more difficult for me to stand firm with my decision.

Management was meaningful to them, but it wasn’t to me.

Why do we care so much about what other people think, anyway?

Well it turns out, we’re wired for it.

According to Psychology Today, not being accepted by the larger group was almost certainly a death sentence for our primitive ancestors. Being separated from the tribe meant you would have no one to defend you, no one with which to pool resources. You couldn’t survive.

Obviously times have changed. Today, your peers and elders not agreeing with a decision you make doesn’t have such dire consequences, even though it may feel like it. But that doesn’t mean their opinions carry any less sway.

So what can you do about it? How can you stop caring so much what everyone around you thinks and focus in on getting the right answers? How can you learn to sift through opinions and genuine wisdom?

I recommend getting yourself a motto. A mantra. An inspiring phrase.

Whatever you call it, find something you can say to yourself when you feel yourself starting to spiral into self-doubt brought on by others’ opinions.

A few that work for me are:

“Do not waste your precious time giving one single crap about what anybody else thinks of you.”
—Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass

"Always remember that people's judgments about you are none of your business."
—Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

“You can’t control other people’s reactions but you can control what you do.”
—Emilie Wapnick, How to Be Everything

What about you? Are there any phrases you’ve come across that speak to you and keep you grounded when people around you are starting to get to you?

I’d love to hear yours in the comments.



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