I get asked to do a lot of interviews on podcasts, radio and even TV. I also get featured on magazines and websites and talk to reporters on occasion. You're thinking great for me but what does this have to do with you, right?
Well, just hang with me for a moment. I promise it's far more relevant to you than your best friend unloading her life story in your lap in great glorious details.
See, I used to think of interviews as a way to talk about me-me-me, "Hey look at the book I wrote! Look at the business I built! Look at how I quit my corporate job and now get to travel the world!"
It turns out I really had it backwards. None of these great exposure opportunities were about me. It took me a while to understand that it's all about getting the chance to get your unique message across to others in hopes of helping them, growing them, inspiring them.
But I did not know this back when I felt self-conscious about my life's path and craved the validation that came from the outside world for doing what I know to be my life's work and passion. I felt as if I needed the permission and approval of others. I needed someone to say, "Hey! You did the right thing leaving your successful job! Hey, it's okay to leave it all behind to do what you love!"
But truth be told, validation is a symptom that you are not doing the one thing you need to do to get everything you want, and that is trusting yourself.
If you do not trust yourself, it does not matter if the whole world approves of you. You will still feel questioning and skeptical and uncomfortable in your own skin.
Deep down, if you are feeling insecure about your life's choices, or intimidated by making changes that you know you want to make, then this is where you need to look for answers: The amount of trust that exists between you and yourself.
How much do you really trust yourself?
Let's say your friends gave you their collective wisdom and yet, you didn't feel that their take made sense for you. Your gut told you "something is off with this!" What do you do? Do you trust your friends over you?
Or let's say your parents gave you their love and support on a work situation. Sure, they have your best interest at heart. Yet you know the inner adult you have become better than they do. You also know that their advice would not work for you, even though it comes from a great place. What do you do then? Do you trust your parents over you?
I admit, this is not easy. Easy would be to ask others to tell us what to do. Easy would be to ask family and friends to make decisions for us. Easy would be to give up the ultimate responsibility of being in charge of our own lives by letting outside factors decide for us.
Easy would also leave you feeling unfulfilled, confused and questioning.
Because nobody knows you the way you know yourself.
If you don't know yourself well enough, well, you can get to know yourself better but you can't teach your closest family and friends to know you the way you know yourself. It is not for them to know you that well. It is your responsibility to know yourself on a deep and intimate level. Questions like who you are, what you are here for, what is your life's purpose, what are your passions, your interests, your reason for existence, your calling are for you to reflect on and answer.
It is also your responsibility to decide if you want to take action and live out your dreams in the waking world.
How do you begin to accept this responsibility? Great question. It brings us full circle back to trusting yourself, trusting the voice inside that whispers, "Do this! It will make you happy!". It starts with listening to your intuition, and paying attention to the things that make you happy and those that make you miserable.
But wait, first you have to make a decision – a decision that says, even though the world is pulling you in this direction and that direction, even though society tells you to do such and such, even though peer pressure thinks you should do this and that, in your heart, that's not really what you want, and you choose to listen to your heart above all else.
You may not make that choice every day. Some days, you may decide to ignore your heart. Other days, you may decide to trust someone else over yourself. It is a process and you grow with it.
Here's the picture to keep in mind as you go through it: If you are leaning on the outside world more than you are on your own strength and wisdom, you will be more trapped. Less free. More dependent. Less self-sufficient. More depressed. Less joyous. More confused. Less clear.
So trust yourself even if you don't have all the facts and data.
Trust yourself to know that you have made good smart decisions in your life, and you will continue to do so, because you know what is best for you.
Seek advice. Do research. Listen and appreciate the wisdom of everyone who cares about you and wants to tell you what you should do – teachers, parents, guidance counselors, friends, colleagues, bosses, mentors, even your children – but in the end, when you have finished asking questions and you need to make the final call, trust your heart to make the right one even if it goes against everything else you have heard. Trust that small voice inside that says, "I want to do this!" and give you a chance.