In part 1 of "What to do when you're offered unsolicited advice" I shared my experience with an old friend that reached out to remind me of (in her opinion) what was the true formula for a happy and successful life and made it quite apparent that I was not living it. The words I left you with at the end of that blog post are the same I'll start with:
Regardless of her "well-intentioned" efforts to “help”, unless you ask for someone's opinion, they have zero right (or zero place) to offer it.
There are some people in the world who (when they see other people succeeding by a different definition of success or happiness which may vary from the definition they have) take it upon themselves to try to hold you down, encourage you to play small, question yourself, your choices, your decisions and your life or suggest you alter your beliefs to fit theirs. Some people in your life try to make you second-guess yourself. And sometimes, when they see you creating a lifestyle different of the one they created for themselves, (but not entirely one that doesn't appeal to them), they are reminded of all of the fears and excuses they gave themselves for not following a path they wanted to follow. So instead, they try to force their beliefs and values onto you, just to reassure themselves that they got it right, that they're the ones who have got life figured out.
I am by no means implying that this is is the reason why some people offer their unsolicited advice. But it can be. In my own experience, I truly believe my friend came from a well-intentioned place and truly believed in the words she was sharing with me.
For the purpose of this blog post, let's call my friend, "Marie".
The kicker is, I didn't ask for Marie's advice or her opinion.
I think what bothered me most was not the unsolicited advice that she was trying to offer, nor the way I felt pigeon-holed into a corner while my life choices were being questioned, but more so due to the fact that I let the conversation continue for far too long without listening to my gut, and questioning not my decisions, but her motives.
(It's funny how we feel the need to hear someone out, even when we know it doesn't add any value to our life.)
I listened to her tell me how happy she was with what she created. How true happiness came from building a family, children and the miracle of birth.
And I’m sure it does for a lot of people.
But (at this specific moment in my life) I’m not one of them.
And I've dedicated myself and my work to help other women realize that it's okay to not fit into the traditional role of what worked for their family, friends, parents or other people around them. I get pumped up when my clients tell me they know there is more to life than what they are currently experiencing. I get psyched when tell me they don't feel like they fit in. I have even been known to fist pump into the air during calls when they've come to this realization. Because that means they've reached the point where they want to start discovering, embracing and sharing their unique and authentic gifts and talents with the world. (And also because I've been there, and it feels freaking incredible to let yourself explore the alternative.)
My work is all about encouraging women to give themselves permission to hone in, listen to and trust their intuition and gut instincts about a life that truly lights them up. Regardless of what that looks like. Because guess what? It's different for every single human being.
QUESTION: What do the following have in common?
- A woman that wants to start her own bed and breakfast
- A woman that wants to set aside more time for self-care
- A woman that wants to start her own quilting company
- A woman that wants more time to quilt
- A woman that wants to quit her job to travel the world
- A woman that wants to set aside more time to be creative
- A woman that wants to explore a career in a non-profit organization
- A woman that wants to start a blog
- A woman that wants to become a life coach
- A woman that wants to run several businesses
- A woman that wants to develop a deeper and more meaningful connection with her partner
- A woman that wants to become a successful actress
- A woman that wants to quit her job and focus on being the best mother, wife and caregiver she can be
- A woman that wants to start a greeting cards company
- A woman that wants to come out of retirement and turn her hobby into a new profitable business
- A woman that wants to love herself wholly and completely
- A woman that wants to write a novel
- A woman that wants to volunteer more in her community
- A woman that wants to travel once a year to help care for animals in third-world countries
ANSWER: They are all women that I work with or have worked with in the past, each with a completely different, yet totally amazing, important and real (uniquely to them) formula and definition of happiness and success.
And the best part?
Each one is on the exact path they are meant to be on.
The one that truly lights them up from the inside out, because they've FINALLY given themselves permission to live life on their terms.
Every single one of us has unique gifts and talents to share with the world. Mine is bringing that out of people, tapping into that powerful and untapped potential inside of them and guiding and supporting them to overcome whatever blocks, fears or limiting beliefs stand in their way of making it happen.
You weren't meant to fit in.
You weren't meant to live life on someone else's terms or by their agenda or their definition of success.
You were meant to stand out and create a life that's meaningful, joyful and exciting to YOU.
And I have seen first hand how liberating and confident women begin to feel when they get rid of the old expectations, shed the old baggage that they are carrying, and start to focus on living in their own lane instead of someone else's.
And from working with women of different age ranges, in different parts of the world, and in different stages of life - there is one truth I’ve learned and I can say this with 100% certainty: there is no single formula for happiness. The only formula you can follow is your own. And that's the one I encourage you to focus on.
It's be okay with being different. In fact, welcome your difference and uniqueness with open arms. Be content being non-traditional. Allow yourself to stick out instead of focusing so hard on sticking in. Give up on trying to make other people happy because ultimately, the only person that you are responsible for making happy, is you. (And you'll regret it on your death bed if you spent your whole life focusing on fitting into the mould of people around you.)
So a very special thank-you to Marie who provided a much needed reminder on the importance of boundary setting and staying in my own lane, remaining focused on what's important, meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling to me (and not to her or anyone else).
And if you're thinking to yourself, " Well that's all well and good Sarah, but what do I do when the unsolicited advice comes from a family member, friend or a love one that I care about.
“I really appreciate so much that you're trying to help and I know it comes from a place of love. But your definition of happiness isn't necessarily the same as mine. And I think it's great that your beliefs have worked for you, but my beliefs are different, and they're working for me. While I appreciate that you care and might be worried about me.. please don't - I got this and I'd respectfully ask that this be the last time we discuss it.”
And, if you want some additional support in this area, I would love to help! Head on over to book a FREE 30-minute clarity call with me to discuss how I can help you develop the confidence, self-love and self-worth to start creating the life that feels right and amazing for YOU.
Regardless of your crazy, massive and large-scale idea you may be cooking up inside that brilliant head of yours, I assure you I will be the biggest advocate of the life you want to create for yourself.