Getting outside approval is reaffirming, especially in your career. But it also means you're gaining your direction from where other people want you to go — not where you want to go.
Photo by Brad.K
Y Combinator founder Paul Graham and Brain Pickings' Maria Popova put it well:
Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, "prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like." Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don't make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.
It's good to be acknowledged for your efforts, but don't use it as an excuse to let other people tell you where you should be going. Only you know what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.