Your needs matter too. Don’t ignore them. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everyone else.
A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who are perhaps incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “what’s expected of you,” is a sure road to a regretful existence. Angel and I were on this road once, but I’m happy to say we’re paving our own path now based on our own needs, morals and values. And today I hope to inspire you to do the same…
Do more than just exist. We all exist. The question is: Do you live?
Angel and I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what we wanted for ourselves. So we made changes – we gradually embraced all the points discussed in this article and never looked back. If you are in the same place we once were – seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do – please take this post to heart and start making changes today. Life is too short not to.
- First and foremost, you are not obligated to live up to everyone’s expectations. – Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect. And you are under no obligation to give others what they expect. Period. Do things because you care. Do things because you know it’s right. Don’t just do things because everyone else expects you to.
- Expectations just get in the way of great life experiences. – Don’t let expectations (especially other people’s expectations) get in your way. Truth be told, the unexpected is often better than the expected. Our entire lives can be described in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned, and that’s OK.
- You don’t need others to hold your hand every step of the way. – Be willing to go alone sometimes. You don’t need permission to grow. Not everyone who started with you will finish with you. And that’s OK. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
- You get to learn from your mistakes without unnecessary third-party pressure. – You’re going to mess up sometimes. But the good news is, as long as you’re listening to your intuition, you get to decide how you’re going to mess up. Which means you get to decide how you’re going to live and what you’re going to learn along the way.
- No one knows you better than you know yourself. – How you seem to others and how you actually are, rarely match. Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle. What other people think of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine. So if someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions. Leave it to them to worry about. You know who you are and what’s best for you.
- Only YOU can define what’s possible for you and your life. – Some people will kill you over time if you let them; and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like, “Be realistic.” When this happens, close your ears and listen to your inner voice instead. Remember that real success in life isn’t what others see, but how you feel. It’s living your truth and doing what makes you feel alive.
- In the end, happiness is simply living your life your own way. – There comes a time when your back is up against the wall and you realize all you can do is say, “Screw it, I’m doing things my way!” That’s the earth-shattering moment you stop planning for someone else’s expectations, and start making progress on what’s truly important to YOU. That’s when you begin to live life according to your own morals and values. That’s when you can finally be at your happiest.
- You can best serve yourself and others by giving yourself what YOU need. – Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and pursue it at all costs. That’s what this world needs – people like YOU who come alive. Which means your needs matter; so don’t ignore them. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your life, not just what seems best on the surface for everyone else.
- Rather than being confined by opinions, you get to create your own reality. – If J.K. Rowling stopped after being rejected by multiple publishers for years, there would be no Harry Potter. If Howard Schultz gave up after being turned down by banks 200+ times, there would be no Starbucks. If Walt Disney quit too soon after his theme park concept was trashed by 300+ investors, there would be no Disney World. One thing is for sure: If you give too much power to the opinions of others, you will become their prisoner. So never let someone’s opinion define your reality. (Read Daring Greatly.)
- You allow yourself the freedom to speak your truth. – Yes, speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say. Push your concerns of what others might think aside. Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally. What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all. And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you. Think about it. Why lie?
- The wrong people won’t be able to tamper with your standards. – Remember, failed relationships aren’t designed to encourage you to lower your standards, but to raise them and keep them up. So while you’re out there making decisions instead of excuses, learning new things, and getting closer and closer to your goals, know that there are others out there, like me, who admire your efforts and are striving for greatness too. Bottom line: Don’t let the wrong people bring you down.
- The haters will have less of an effect on you. – Don’t worry about the haters, ever. Don’t let them get to you. They’re just upset because the truth you know contradicts the lies they live. Period.
- Your individuality can be openly celebrated and enjoyed. – Constantly seeking approval means you’re perpetually worried that others are forming negative judgments of you. This steals the fun, ingenuity, and spontaneity from your life. Flip the switch on this habit. If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t be ashamed and don’t change. Uniqueness is priceless. In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your remarkable self. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone, but it’s worth it. Being unapologetically YOU is worth it!
- There will be less drama to deal with. – Forgo the drama. Ignore the negativity around you. Just be sincere and kind, and promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.
- You will have more time to socialize with the right people. – When you’re feeling insecure, you typically don’t notice the hundreds of people around you who accept you just the way you are. All you notice are the few who don’t. Don’t ever forget your worth. Spend time with those who value you. No matter how good you are to people, there will always be negative minds out there who criticize you. Smile, ignore them, and carry on. You might feel unwanted and unworthy to one person, but you are priceless to another.
- Great relationships are not governed by one-sided expectations. – When it comes to your relationships, don’t keep everything you need to say to yourself. Let it out. Express your point of view. Communication is not just an important part of a relationship, communication is the relationship. Communicate even when it’s uncomfortable and uneasy. One of the best ways to heal and grow a relationship is simply getting everything on the inside out in the open. Compromise. That’s how good people make great things happen together.
- You get to be YOUR best, without competing with everyone else. – When you are happy to simply do your best and not compare or compete, everyone worth your while will respect you. Here’s some healthy food for thought: Always… Be strong, but not rude. Be kind, but not weak. Be humble, but not timid. Be proud, but not arrogant. Be bold, but not a bully. (Angel and I discuss these concepts in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- You are not obligated to anyone more so than you are to yourself. – Your relationship with yourself is the closest and most important relationship you will ever have. So don’t forget about YOU out there, and don’t be too hard on yourself either. There are plenty of others willing to do both for you. And remember, if you don’t take good care of yourself, then you can’t take good care of others either; which is why taking care of yourself is the best selfish thing you can do.
The floor is yours…
What’s the best reason you can think of to give up trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Erin