People pleasing has been my main survival strategy since early childhood. But, as often with those early adapted survival strategies, what has worked well and kept you safe then, may actually work against you now in adulthood. That’s what happened to me during the first years of my entrepreneurial career.

When starting my own coaching business, I was utterly unaware of my constant need to please everyone around me. If someone had told me then, that I’m suffering from the disease to please, I would have just walked away not listening. After all, I had just jumped off of a promising corporate career and became an entrepreneur against the will of many, right?

Little did I know. Starting your own business is definitely one of the best self development seminars there is, making you face the good and the bad in yourself. Needles to say, I was soon face-to-face with this dilemma of what other people think of me. And as you can imagine, people pleasing did not work well as a strategy for building a successful business.

Here’s how the people pleasing business messes up your success:

  1. All your time goes into minding other people’s businesses, while yours remains unattended – no business survives, let alone thrives, without someone paying close attention to it regularly. Though, it doesn’t always have to be you doing everything, you can hire help, too. But first you have to get yourself into that position. Often, the most demanding part of this process is the inner mindset work.
  2. You loose the focus on the big picture and forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. This part is really frustrating and taxes a high toll on your wellbeing. The negative thought loops and judgmental self-talk make you tired, but you don’t see a way out. Nevertheless, this is not the time to give up, but to deepen your self-awareness.
  3. You fall into the comparison trap. You have lost the touch with the real you, including your dreams, desires and values, and run after all wrong things based on what other people do or want. This takes you further down the people pleasing road and makes you feel even more lost. However, with just a few simple steps you’re heading back to clarity.

If you recognize any of the above mentioned in your life, don’t worry. I remember how mesmerized I was in the beginning by how easy it seemed for everyone else to build their business and, at the same time, devastated by how hard it felt for me. Yet, this urge from within makes us continue. Instead of using our time and energy to make sure we’re getting everyones approval, let’s turn the situation into your benefit by concentrating on the following three things:

  1. What’s the motive for your action, why are you doing what you’re doing? To monitor this, I set an alarm to go off regularly on my phone to simply just remind myself to notice how I am feeling and what is the guiding principle behind my actions at that particular moment. Is it what other people think of you? Or fear of other’s opinions/judgement? Or you pleasing and needing everyone’s approval (except your own)? Or is it clarity? The understanding of the bigger picture? Or the commitment to follow your plans and keep promises to yourself? Whatever it is, the point isn’t to judge or criticize, but to become aware of the motive. And then course correct, if needed.
  2. Regularly connect with your dream. This is a biggie for many, as they’ve lost the ability to even dream for themselves. If this is the case, then start with relearning how to dream. Then regularly connect with your deepest desires. This connection is such a powerful way to navigate forward, and it has nothing to do with whether you actually turn those desires into reality or not. It has everything to do with how you’re feeling in the hurdles of your everyday life.
  3. Focus more specifically on what already works and less specifically on what is not yet working. Usually it’s easier to filter in the bad than the good, but we really need both when building our businesses. Just not in the same old quantities. The truth is that while the focus may be on the things that do not yet work, there are, at the same time, as many, if not even more things, that actually do work for you. And we need to filter that information in, too. When that shift happens, you turn the downward spiral into that of upward one and it’s much easier for you to see the opportunities around you.

So far, these three simple shifts in energy, mindset and focus have worked wonders for both me and my private coaching clients. If you’d like to explore more of what helped me on my journey, I have gathered seven guiding principles with practical tips into a short online course for building a confident mindset in living life on your own terms. You’ll find it in here.


  • Paula Immo

    International Success Coach

    Paula Immo is an international success coach based in Oulu, Finland. She's an in demand expert in succeeding on your own terms and claiming your unique place in the world. She coaches award-winning entrepreneurs, experts and business leaders, and is known for her practical, results bringing approach. Paula is especially good with people who naturally pull back in challenging times and are more helpful than pushy. Sign up for her free tips on how to succeed on your own terms, regardless of the tendencies to freeze or fawn.