How To Live For Yourself Instead Of Others: 13 Practical Steps

Many people aim to please, and from childhood, it’s often instilled in us from a young age. Children are often concerned about gaining approval from their parents, family, and friends and will do anything to receive that affirmation.

In adulthood, all those years learning to please our parents, teachers, and society can sometimes impact an individual’s ability to start living for themselves and find the life you want, instead of constantly focusing on making other people happy.

Below we dive into practical tips on how to live for yourself instead of those around you.

What Makes it Hard to Live For Yourself?

Sometimes it’s easier to live for other people, especially family, friends, and people in positions of trust who have established a strong sense of what’s expected from us. This often stems from our desire to be accepted and belong to a group or part of society.

It’s human nature to seek out love and connection from others, which can often cause us to seek validation and self-confidence from others instead of building it within ourselves. It is common for us to struggle with making decisions, even if they are made in our best interest.

While pleasing other people is a great way to live, spending time searching for what you want out of life and being true to yourself is also incredibly important. Sometimes, getting in touch with what we really want out of life means getting a bit uncomfortable or taking calculated risks.

It’s often the best direction to take calculated risks if you embark on a new career or make a big decision. Take the steps needed to find what is fulfilling to you, and make a point of following your goals. There are essential steps that need to be taken before creating a life that works for you.

How to Live For Yourself

1. Get to Know Yourself and What Makes You Want to Live

Everyone has a dream or goal in life that inspires them to work hard, even if they’re unaware of it. Finding what you want in life is a part of getting to know yourself and the life you want.

For example, if your passion is art and travel, you may work harder to pursue this specific dream or project. When you are in tune with your innermost passions, it becomes easier to aim for what you want and learn what’s needed to succeed on your own terms.

This entire process offers you the benefits of self-improvement, a sense of freedom, and taking greater responsibility for yourself.

Related: How to Find Happiness in Your Life: 12 Simple and Practical Tips

2. Always Grow, and Never Stop Learning

The moment learning and growing stops, progression and happiness become difficult to achieve. It’s important to focus on learning something new, whether that involves creating a new life, spending time on a new project, or taking a completely different direction altogether.

It’s easy to feel stuck in a routine job or life, where there’s a lack of satisfaction. Self-development is key to finding the energy within you to take the next step.

Sign up for a course, try a new skill, and learn something that you’ll find useful in your career path or personal goals. Continual development will help increase your confidence while also improving your quality of life.

Related: How To Develop An Eagerness To Learn In 13 Easy To Follow Steps

live for yourself not anyone else even if you feel like it is expected of you

3. Learn to Forgive Yourself

We are often too hard on ourselves and continually overthink situations that we could have handled differently. Everyone at one stage or another makes the wrong decision.

Therefore, instead of beating ourselves up, it’s important to learn from the experience and then put a new plan into practice. When we allow our thoughts to dwell on the negative too often, it can hinder our progress and lead to making the wrong decisions.

It’s also important to forgive yourself for saying the wrong thing or making a regrettable choice. We aren’t perfect, and it is inevitable that, at times, we will make mistakes. 

Instead of saying negative things to yourself, take time to discover your strengths, and focus on them. Write them down, and dwell on the good things about yourself.

If anyone else makes you feel inadequate or causes you to focus on the past, aim to keep the discussion light and positive and instead talk about goals and what you have learned from past mistakes. This practice will give you a greater sense of value and help you feel more confident.

Related: Difference Between Joy and Happiness: Comparison, Definition, Examples

4. Set Your Own Standards and Stick with Them

People will have a greater sense of direction when they have a set of standards or values that they choose to follow. Not only does this help others to believe in you, but it also creates a consistent and well-intentioned path in life.

People will also find you more reliable and trustworthy because you are true to your word. They’ll respect what you think and understand your reasons for fulfilling your own sense of purpose instead of simply living for others.

Individuals with a strong sense of who they are and where they want to go are inspirational and a positive influence on others who may need a boost themselves to know how they want to live and achieve happiness for themself.

Related: Happiness is a Choice: 10 Ways to Choose Happiness Today

5. Don’t Worry What Other People Think

It’s understandable to think about how others see you, as long as you don’t allow it to take over your life. Sometimes people may offer you helpful advice and ideas, which can prove valuable and sincere, although it’s important to focus on what you want as a priority.

There will be people who might call you selfish or try to convince you to abandon your goals, but it’s a matter of focusing on what makes you feel content. We have all grown up with expectations placed on our lives.

Sadly, you may discover that when you begin breaking away from those expectations and pursuing what you are most passionate about, not everyone around you will support you, be happy for you, or even understand. 

Create a mindset focused on where you want to go but remain relaxed and understand that you will make mistakes along the way. When the stress becomes too much, take some time for yourself.

It’s important to take a bit of time away from work and life, especially when you are under pressure from family, peers, or management at work. Only change your direction if it works best for you, and avoid shifting away from your path or jumping to something new unless it is something that you truly want to do.

Allow others to provide advice and tips while keeping in mind what matters to you. Remember that you don’t always need to do what other people tell you. So, when people offer advice, view their advice holistically and see if it is applicable or relevant to what you are pursuing as a whole. 

Related: Tips and Tricks How to Clear Your Mind Effectively and Why it’s Important

6. Surround Yourself with Positive, Supportive People

Just as it’s important not to let people discourage you from following your goals, it’s also essential to spend time with the individuals who support you. When you live your life regardless of what everyone else thinks, you’ll soon find valuable people who believe in you and want you to succeed on your terms and create the life that works best for you.

Genuinely supportive people require you to accommodate and cater to them. You don’t need their validation and approval, which they understand. They are there because they love you and want to see you succeed. They are often your cheerleader and can encourage you to continue going, even when times get tough.

It is important to note that positive and supportive people may not just fall into your life. Sometimes we need to be incredibly intentional about creating relationships with people that we think have the capacity to become great friends. 

Related: How to be Happy in 8 Practical Steps: Why you Deserve to be Happy

7. Start Living Authentically

The idea of living authentically is appealing to many of us. However, it doesn’t always come easy to everyone. How many people live a life that they do not truly want and would rather change their direction completely to enjoy a new way of living.

Choosing to live an authentic life means abandoning the exhaustion of trying to fulfill a role that you really don’t want. For many people, pursuing a certain career or path isn’t what they want, but they do it because it’s expected of them.

Letting go of the things you no longer want to do will improve your life, but it may require some significant changes. To live authentically, you can:  

  • Assess everything in your life, and evaluate it. Does your career make you happy, and are you proud of your accomplishments? If you could make any changes, what would they be?
  • Get ready to be vulnerable, and take some risks. Change is never easy, but it is essential to finding the life you want and true happiness.
  • Don’t focus solely on financial gain, but instead, follow your desires and listen to your true passions. Prepare to get uncomfortable and act on your dreams instead of reacting to what others say about your goals.
  • Be true to yourself, and don’t take shortcuts on the way to accomplishing your goals. You’ll find wisdom in your past mistakes and from experienced friends and family who offer you genuine opinions and advice.

Related: How to be Nicer to People and Perform Regular Acts of Kindness

8. Living Authentically Means Having the Life You Want

Living authentically is essentially learning how to live for yourself by being aligned to your values. It allows you to achieve a sense of freedom by embracing your mistakes and imperfections.

Start living without apologizing for not doing what others expect of you, and instead, subscribe to what makes you want to live life to the fullest and go for it. Eventually, you’ll achieve more than you expect, and the focus will be more on happiness and less on the approval of others.

9. Understand that Living the Life You Want is Not Selfish

It’s not hard to fall into the habit of doing what’s expected of you because the people closest to you may convince you it’s what you want. A specific career path or company may offer you an opportunity that seems ideal for a better life, but in reality, it’s not what makes you happy.

You might be called selfish or ungrateful, especially if they play a role in supporting that plan. Family, a partner, or friends may convince you that your best options are what they think is ideal for you when it’s not always the case. They may guide you in a direction that’s not in your best interest, even if it’s done with love and good intentions.

An example of this may be that you have decided that you want to go to college in a different city because the education is better and you will get a better job when you graduate.

However, your mom doesn’t want you to move away from the family, so she pushes you towards the average college in your local town simply because you will be closer to family. This doesn’t mean that your mom doesn’t want you to get a good job or succeed in life. It just means that her advice may be coming from a place focused on serving her interests instead of thinking about yours. 

Related: What is the Point of Life? The Meaning of Life and Why it’s Important

10. Live Life Free and for You

Many people do not want to disappoint their family, especially if they offer financial support or are responsible for making things happen. They may believe that they know what’s best for you, even if it doesn’t fit your values. When you express what you truly want to achieve in the world, other people may not take it seriously unless you proceed with your own plans and figure out your own way.

Don’t worry about being called selfish or about people that don’t believe you have the ability to accomplish what you have set out to. In the end, your happiness and success will positively affect others and encourage them to pursue what they are passionate about. 

Related: Getting Yourself Together: Practical Tips To Help Get Your Life Sorted

How to Live for Yourself

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Opportunity

It is important to remember that your life is your story, and you can decide how it is written. If you see an opportunity that fits into your life goals, don’t let it pass by because you are nervous. For many people, missed opportunities are one of the things that they regret most in life.

Often, they have a limited time to accept an offer and either ignore it or don’t realize how much they want it at the moment. Sometimes, we can miss an opportunity because other people talk us out of it. You decide to make your life what you want, and it is your life to live once the choice has been made. 

Related: What is a Sense of Self? Why it’s Important and Tips to Develop yourself

12. Listen to Your Desires

Friends and family may think they know what’s best for you, but ultimately, it’s your life to live, so take charge, including making the most of every moment in life.

How many people sacrifice real happiness and enjoyment of their personal goals to avoid disappointing others? Making other people happy doesn’t translate into self-fulfillment in the long term. When your focus is on making the most out of every chance you get, you’ll notice how life has a way of getting much better for you.

Related: How to Stop Overthinking: Why Do I Overthink and Practical Tips to Stop

13. Be Prepared to Make Change

The first time you experience a big change, it’s often scary and unpredictable. The initial shock after a breakup or big career move can be difficult to adjust to, though it gets easier in time.

When change happens unexpectedly, it’s also important to accept and find a way to make it work for you. Never stop taking on challenges in life, especially if they lead to improvement. Sometimes even the smallest changes can make a profound and positive impact on your life.

Related: How to Feel Better Instantly and Care for Yourself: 7 Key Strategies


Living the life you want is the best way to achieve happiness and the goals you desire. Taking the plunge into a new career, changing directions in your personal life, and sometimes making a risky but calculated and exciting move is the only way to set your life in a more fulfilling direction.

Work on implementing some of the tips we have outlined above to create a life filled with happiness and joy because living on your own terms is one of the most rewarding ways for a person to enjoy life.

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