How “Career Advice” become Barriers to your Happiness

Ever told someone your dreams or ideas about your career hoping you’d be met with similar levels of enthusiasm and support? Yeah, I have.

I run every big decision through my mother. She is my role model: decisive, confident, independent, financially-able, highly experienced, hard-working, and generous with her time devoted to my issues.

Besides her, I run my ideas through anyone who gives me the time and day; mostly to gain validation that my next steps are a generally good idea, with low risk and high probability of success.

That’s great….. But…

Most of the time I am met with projections of others’ on my ideas. This is normal: everyone has their own preconceived notions and dispositions. Advice is a good way of preparing yourself with the possible pitfalls in moving forward. However, if one lets themselves be swayed by the negative outlook others might have, then they can expect to never ever make the jump and stick with something they know is not working.

While it’s easy to say, “don’t listen to the nay-sayers and just do it”, sometimes not having others on your side can prove to be an uphill battle. Say you want to try being on a vegan diet. Cue all your meat & dairy loving friends in your social circle heckling you about it and feeling like you’re an inconvenience at tapas night. Say you tell your parents that hospitals get you depressed, you want to quit being a doctor and become a food artisan since you discovered your love and talent in cake baking. “Nobody needs cake. People need doctors. Why don’t you try a new clinic?”

It becomes harder by tenfold to make the change. We’re inbred to follow social cues to survive in a human pack.

So how do you reconcile your dreams with the moral support you long for?

1. Understand their Point of View

Practice empathy. Your loved ones look out for you the best they can. I failed to realise that my mum did not enjoy the outlook of me changing careers from architecture into the tech world. To her, architecture is a long standing profession, which she understands because she is an architect herself. She comes from a baby boomer background where career stability is of utmost importance, due to the shaky economy back in her days and having been through multiple financial crises. She’s also wondering, what the heck is a UX Designer?

2. Identify their biggest worry

Have a long discourse in regards to what their fear is, to its absolute core. Maybe, deep down, they are afraid that you are yet another lazy millennial. If you dig long enough, you’ll find the source of their disapproval.

3. Placate & Educate

With this new information, it is then your responsibility to address their concerns. Since you are a smart and savvy Gen-Y millennial, you would have researched the outlooks and prospects of your new job, or tips on how you might succeed in your salted caramel cupcake business. You need to relay your educated studies clearly to the anxious party. You should also communicate that their support is essential; it really does make the transition easier (as if the idea alone wasn’t scary enough already)

4. Have a Plan

This is probably the most important point. If you did not do your research to come up with a practical plan, you will not be able to do Step 3 effectively. Being able to see your path makes it achievable in your head. This translates to confidence and assurance when you are communicating with your live-in partner, who might immediately envision her extra shift hours to cover the rent of your joint apartment for the unforseeable future.


In summary, don’t take advice so seriously, pay attention to that voice of truth inside your head that’s nudging you to make the change. Appreciate and consider the reality of all advice you receive. In the end, only you are responsible for your own decisions.

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