Finding a career with purpose part 5: ‘What will others think of me?’


Book Series 5


There are many people living and working in environments every day, where they are exposed to situations and opportunities to create more sustainable and beneficial outcomes for themselves, their families and communities.

In this series of five blog posts, taken from our book ‘The Future Makers’, we look at the key excuses the many social innovators who we interviewed from across the world faced on their journey to creating a better world.

You can find out more about The Future Makers also on our online portal, where we have continued to seek out inspirational social entrepreneurs and tell their stories.


Excuse 5: ‘What will others think of me?’

You know what you want to do, but do the people who surround you understand? Taking a different route to career satisfaction to meet your own passions and values can leave other people confused and you feeling misunderstood.

It takes a lot of self-confidence and resilience to pursue a path that sits outside others’ ideas of ‘normal’. Social values and structures have been created around a common goal of fitting in for centuries and change only comes through stepping outside of some of those paradigms and systems designed to provide structure and order in an otherwise chaotic world.

Can you turn around sceptical friends, family and colleagues to at least value your determination and self-worth, or do you have to pursue a lonely path? The answer may be unclear until you actually set out on this new journey. What you will find, is that the people who share similar values or belief in your abilities will more likely come along with you than not.


And you care because?

‘Even if it kills me tomorrow, there’s nothing better that I can do with my life’

Says Roma Debabrata, founder of STOP – an organisation dedicated to stopping the tracking and oppression of children and women in India. Roma faced years of misunderstanding. On the path to becoming a prima ballerina, she was the source of her family’s pride. At aged 21, Roma gave that up. She couldn’t see how she could be fulfilled dancing when she was surrounded by wretched dwellings and omnipresent hunger. Why millions had to suffer, as she indulged in a tiny elite.

Her parents were not of the same mindset. She decided to move away and work as an instructor at the University of Delhi – to help students recognise the contradictions that existed in their society – and took part in social projects. For years her family didn’t understand her choices. That didn’t change anything for Roma, she met her future husband and married into a family who supported her ideals. This backing made all of the difference and gave Roma the courage to pursue her passions.

After translating the testimony of a 14-year old abuse victim, sold by her parents at 10 years of age to a ‘better life’. Roma was key in ensuring the girl’s testimony wasn’t falsified – she gave her a voice. During the court case, Roma was attacked by a poison filled needle, meant for the girl. Left partially paralysed and in hospital, she realised that she knew exactly what she woke up for every day. She knew she couldn’t change the world, but she knew she wanted to make the lives of disadvantaged women better.

She still does that today. Putting herself in often dangerous situations and using her university income, through STOP Roma has freed countless women and helped them move on with their lives. The risk and the choices don’t make sense to others. But they do make sense to Roma.


Stop procrastinating

If you move in circles with like-minded people, you will always find support. This doesn’t mean you have to uproot your life as you know it, but you do need to see the value in expanding your world, to meet the needs of every part of yourself.

You may lose some people along the way, but you will always gain more. People change and evolve in any situation through life. When you are being true to yourself, you will attract the ones you really need.

Sit down and speak to the people that surround you. Share your ideas and thoughts about what you might want to do. If they do not understand, don’t shut them down. Critical thinking is always useful. The most important thing is to explain your motivations and reasons clearly, along with the fact you would like and will need their support. Then they can choose how they can support you based on the reality of your thinking, not the perception.

Being honest with yourself is the first and most important step, but being honest with your closest relationships is crucial. See where you stand, don’t judge where you might, then act on that in the way that meets your needs and values their opinion. An opinion is only an opinion, after all.


No more excuses

So whether you think you are too young, too old, not financially stable, don’t have the right professional background, are already super-successful or you care far too much about what people think – you can make a difference.

At the beginning of this series, we summarised the 5 main excuses. Which applies to you?

If you have the feeling that you can do more with your life and you care more about the world than generating profit or meeting the expectations of your family and social circle, stop making excuses.

Contact us to map where you can offer more. Find the excuse that applies to you and work through the actions to see where you fit. More than all of that, be true to yourself and your values.

Nothing is impossible.


Resources to help you



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