People-pleasers often bury dreams, purpose

When you have a tough decision to make, what do you do? Do you charge ahead and make it, confident you’ll be able to mop up any problems that may occur? Or are you someone who is wary of making a decision because you’re driven to please others?

How you answer that question can provide insight into why you struggle with purpose.

People-pleasers tend to bury their hearts, desires and what they want out of fear of upsetting someone else. They deny themselves to try making others happy. Author John Eldredge said that people-pleasers make major decisions based on whether it will make someone else happy, not them.

So, they select a school, career, job, community and even a spouse more based on what’s expected of them than what’s truly in their heart.

As a result, they are ruled by insecurity. Their false self commits them to a particular course of action simply because it is considered “safe,” John explained.

I also see that insecurity playing out over a false sense of duty and obligation. How many people entered “the family business” because it was expected they would follow in their father’s footsteps. Why was it expected? Because dad likely followed in his father’s footstep, too.

To deviate from the expected course of action can bring conflict, scorn or ridicule. So we tend to play it safe.

You may have felt an urge to start a business, but other insecure people hammered you with stories about risk and others who failed. So, you listened, sighed and took that nice, safe job with “good benefits.” As a result, you remained unfulfilled and unchallenged as you gave away the best hours of the day to coworkers you really didn’t like anyway, and your spouse and children got the leftovers.

You muddled through life unfulfilled and your spirit died a little with each passing day.

“If your life is a story filled with indecision, that ‘confusion’ might have nothing to do with clarity and everything to do with fear, or shame, or a wounded heart,” John explained.

Perhaps it could also have something to do with fear of success. Because you were told over and over and over again that you would either never amount to anything or that you were likely to fail, you may have played it too safe and failure became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Never too old

The good news is that you’re never too old to start over!

Anyone of any age, race, sex or background can make a decision today to start in a new direction and achieve something special by following time-honored principles of success, such as:

  • Pick one thing to do and devote your full attention to that. Don’t be distracted by starting a bunch of projects in hopes one might work out.
  • Set three priority tasks for the day and bang them out before you’re distracted by other demands for your time and attention.
  • Go the extra mile by under promising and over delivering. We are at a point as a society where simply doing what you said you would do sets you head and shoulders above everyone else.
  • Be generous with your time. In 2 Corinthians 9:11, Paul tells us to be generous on all occasions. He follows up that instruction in 1 Timothy 18-19 telling people to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

Who couldn’t use more life that is truly life?

You don’t get that by watching endless hours of television, doomscrolling online news or wasting time in pointless debates with people, often anonymous or even robots, on social media.

If you need help, there are plenty of resources you can tap into for a solid grounding on success principles. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Darren Hardy produces a free daily inspirational video that is just a few minutes long, but the messages can set you on a path for a better life.
  • Read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. It is a timeless classic that outlines 16 Laws of Success that anyone can utilize at any time.
  • The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, will help you learn how to dream again.
  • Pastor Gary Keesee, with Faith Life Church, just wrote a new book titled Unfinished Business that guides people through the steps to change their mindset and thinking to one of opportunity and acceleration, so they don’t leave any dreams, impact, or their God-designed destiny unfinished.
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but Vincent Pugliese’s book, The Wealth of Connection, is ideally suited for seasoned citizens who have accumulated an enormous trove of knowledge, experiences and relationships. Even though they are over 50, people can still tap into that treasure to do things they never imagined doing.

If fear, doubt and insecurity have held your dreams at bay for way too long, then now’s the time to step out and pursue them.

Feel free to join the Forward From 50 Facebook group where you can connect with other people who are stepping out of their comfort zones to try new things.

If you’re really stuck on what to do with your life, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming coaching session to members of the Facebook group to see if we can’t clear the logjam and get those creative juices flowing again. Just email me at and I’ll send you a link to schedule a time to chat.

Take one small step today toward a life that is truly life.

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