Is being a people-pleaser the reason you’re in the wrong career?

We coach clients for all sorts of reasons, initially it might seem that we deal with an incredible number of different career situations, but on closer inspection, and I’m sure any Career Coach or Life Coach will agree, many people are in the situations they’re in, for a very small number of similar reasons.


A recurring theme I see through many coaching clients, is a common thread in the root cause to people’s discontent, dissatisfaction and career misalignment. The root usually being as a result of ‘making choices’ or going down a certain university, career or lifestyle path, for other people, usually those who care for us most. 

For certain personality types and environmental reasons, (one quite typical profile I see often, is women who are eldest in their family and of course sometimes, men), the volume on other’s wants, needs and voices is much louder than on their own. So when it looks like they’ve ‘made their career choice’, subconsciously and often quite consciously, it’s a parents’ choice or ‘suggestion’ and there’s no choosing about it. For most people in this situation, they have learnt to focus more on the external than on the internal and live in a way that pleases others over themselves.

What’s happening in your life on the outside, is a direct reflection of your internal world, so when there’s a gap of where you are and where you want to be, there’s an imbalance in the way you’re thinking, feeling and approaching life in relative aspects.

When we see people who are in their mid to late twenties and miserable in their fledgling careers, this is nearly always the cause. Because they didn’t have the clear direction early on, instead of taking some time-out, taking a step back, yes enduring the discomfort of the ‘not knowing’ stage, it was easier in the short-term to just go along and do what other’s suggested. The unforeseen price is paid in the long-term.

Volume Buttons

An analogy I like to use with clients is two volume buttons on a radio. And I work with many career coaching clients to help them learn how to start turning up the volume on their own inner voice, to rediscover their own likes, needs, wants, dreams.

When we live our lives, or even for an extended period of time, where our habit is to hear the other people in our lives louder than ourselves, naturally, they drown out our own voices and needs. Sometimes, like in the example of one client, it is for nobel reasons, she’s cared for her dying Father and now become the chief carer to her mentally ill mother. Even in circumstances as challenging as this one, it is possible to reconnect with oneself by turning up the volume on your voice more and more.

Turning up the volume on your inner-voice is the first step to you figuring out what career you will thrive in.
What you can do today to start turning up the volume on you:

1. Write a journal daily, minimum 2 pages, at night is great, to round up the day, or just anytime you can get 15/20 minutes alone. Speak about how you feel, what you’re thinking about, what you hope for, it doesn’t matter, no one else need ever read it, just practise connecting with yourself and expressing that.

2. Meditation – 15 minutes a day – everyone has 15 minutes they could use – breath in and out deeply, focus solely on your breathing. Before you know it, it’s done!

3. Do more of what you enjoy – what helps you feel as much like yourself as possible? Dancing, drumming, running, taking a bath, cooking? Find something and start doing it regularly. The more you experience this connection, the stronger it gets again, just like a muscle, practise builds it’s strength.

4. Costs & Gains – what are the costs to you having prioritised pleasing others. Write them all down. What were the gains? So for instance, the costs were you chose X course at University, even though you knew it wasn’t for you and the gain was, you looked like you knew you were doing or it got your Father off your back. 

5. Warren Buffet calls it his ‘Inner score card’ – Going inside, to check how you feel and think about something first and foremost and making your decision on that. Warren uses a scorecard, no surprises based on numbers, rating how he feels or thinks about it. Even start with small decisions, what to wear, what to have for dinner, where to meet someone for a coffee, take ownership, be decisive based on your gut instinct or where you would like and build it up. 

6. Stall – Whenever someone asks you for a favor, it’s perfectly OK to say that you’ll need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to consider if you can commit to helping them.

7. Know your Values knowing what matters to you in life, helps you understand who you are and this helps you realise your priorities from a day to day and bigger picture point of view. It’s why we do the Core Values exercise in the first session with all our career change clients.

If you’re interested in discussing how we could work with you – click HERE to book your free phone consultation and speak to a Career Coach directly.


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By | 2017-12-04T02:44:20+00:00 September 8th, 2014|Blog, Career|0 Comments

About the Author:

SEVEN Founder, Evelyn Cotter, London.