Most people look for approval from the outside. They want to feel good about their choices and career path. They want validation that they are doing the right things at the right time and are being understood and respected for their decisions. After all, who doesn't want to hear the sound of applause or cheers due to their efforts? The truth is approval makes us feel better about ourselves.

Approval becomes a problem when you need it too much. Or, when it holds you back because you can't move forward without it. Many people believe approval means they are loved and accepted; words that make them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

True approval comes from you; your inside opinion and view of what you are doing and where you are headed. Outside views may give you validation, but inside approval gives you peace, calm, and a sense of direction.

So how do you give yourself career approval? Follow these 3 steps:

1. Ask Yourself What Would Make You Happy In Your Career

Write your answer down. List the duties you wish you were performing. The environment you wish you were working in. The boss and co-workers you wish you would have. The best location and the amount of money you want to make. Your goal is to get your thoughts out of your head and down on paper. This way you can clearly see your thoughts, and once you can see them, you can do something with them.  Do not screen or talk yourself out of your ideas as you write. What would make you happy is inside you. You just need to open the cage door so it can get out.

2. Listen To Your Answer

The pathway to a fulfilling career is when you listen to yourself. Think back to a time in your career when you did listen. Did things work out well? I have a feeling the answer is yes. Now, recall a time when you did not listen to your inner voice. I bet things worked out differently. No matter what messages you've heard when you were younger, or now as an adult, they are just someone's opinion. People have their own perspectives and experiences and we can learn from them. Sometimes someone's words of wisdom can be very helpful in our journey to a great career. But ultimately the person you need to listen to is yourself. You won't be happy in your career until you do.

3. Expect To Be Misunderstood

This way, it won't surprise you. I know it's hard when you are going after a goal and people don't approve of what you are doing. Or, they don't give you the support and reinforcement you need to achieve it. The people in your life mean a lot to you, and their words of encouragement can make a difference. But if you are waiting until everyone rallies behind you before you act, you may be waiting a long time. I believe that the people in our lives mean well and usually do come from a good place when giving advice. But, they are not you. They don't have the same dreams as you, and as a result, may not understand them. When you expect that not everyone will understand you, then you can learn to rely on yourself. And when you have those moments of doubt, (we all do) you can rely on the person who knows you best, and that person is you.

Getting approval from yourself takes courage and I know you have that courage in you. Good luck.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

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Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career, life, and mentor coaching company, and author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career," "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."