Don’t Give Others the Power to Decide Your Life for You

Josh L
4 min readFeb 15, 2022


How I learned this the hard way

Photo by Raamin ka on Unsplash

“What do you do for work?”

It’s a question layered with several others.

What you do for work is directly tied to who you are. Your work defines you as a person. People put labels based on you depending on what you do to earn money.

In your twenties and late teens, people often ask questions about your future. They look at you and tell you what they think you should do over the course of the next 50 years.

All the while, you just nod and smile. You don’t have an answer to their questions. At this point, you don’t even know if that cute girl across the street knows if you’re alive or not.

It can be overwhelming.

If you already graduated from college, you might be working at a job that you hate. It might be paying the bills, but it does little else.

All of this becomes even worse if your friends and family are proud of the job you are doing. If they are bragging about you and how prestigious your job is, it‘s harder to tell them you hate it.

What can be done about this?

First, you need to have enough confidence in yourself to ignore the negativity. Whenever you go against the grain, there will be plenty of people there to tell you how wrong you are.

These people are often friends and family.

Understand that you are the only one that needs to answer for the decisions you make. You’ll be the only one that is satisfied or miserable.

When I was graduating high school, I had plenty of family members giving me ideas of what I should do. I now realize they were ideas that they wished they had done when they were younger.

My family was set on me becoming a nurse. Their reasons for pushing this idea were logical.

“Think of the job security! Nurses make good money. There’s a shortage right now and once you graduate you’ll have a degree you can actually use.”

Everything they said was true. I knew even back then I didn’t want to go to nursing school. I applied anyway, and as you might be able to guess, I didn’t last long.

The first semester wasn’t over yet and I had dropped out. I hated everything about it. I wasted so much time, money, attention, energy, and focus.

My family was pissed. They couldn't understand how I could do something so stupid. I felt like an embarrassment for a long time after that. I worked full-time as a cashier with no plan for the future.

I learned the hard way not to care what everybody thought I should do with my life. What they said meant nothing. Accept that other people will disagree with you. This is normal.

Confidence would have helped in this situation. I could have stood up for myself and told them I wasn’t going to nursing school because I didn’t want to.

I learned this skill, but it was not easy. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Have confidence in yourself to tell people no.

The second thing I learned from this was to expect things not to go my way. Expect to hit roadblocks in life and be forced to alter course.

This is not to say that you need to believe everything will be terrible and nothing will work. Instead, do the opposite. Be positive and envision success but understand your plan may not go perfectly.

And when something goes wrong, have the mental toughness to accept that something bad happened. Once you’ve accepted it, the next step is to start thinking of solutions and actions that need to be taken.

In sports, there are what they call “fair-weather” fans. This is a fan who only supports a team or player when they are performing well.

The second they underperform or lose, they bash them. They’re the ones that shout “I knew it!” as soon as someone makes any kind of mistake.

Fair-weather fans are all around us. You have fair-weather fans. They are the people who want to be around you when things are going well. If you have any kind of success, they want to get even a shred of credit for your accomplishments. In times of abundance, You can’t get rid of them.

When you fall on hard times and need help, they are nowhere to be found. It’s in these moments when you find out who your true friends are.

Don’t let their opinions affect you. Whatever they say, positive or negative, you can learn to tune it out.

If you start looking for this, you’ll see it happening in real-time.

You are the only person responsible for your own life. Make sure you don’t surrender your power to anyone else.