You finally decided to take the plunge and fulfill your dream to start a business or change your career. You’re excited to tell the world of the new direction in your life, but when you tell your closest friends and family your big news, you hear “what if you fail?” “are you sure that’s the right move for you right now?” Suddenly with your biggest fears being echoed by those who you thought would be your biggest supporters, and instead of being excited, you are now put on the defensive.
Business and leadership coach Melissa Anderson of Box the Outside says it’s not uncommon for the strongest naysayers to be the people who care about you the most. They may try to turn you toward the path that they understand, the status quo, because they’re scared for you and don’t want to see you take a risk and fail. But, Anderson says it’s more common that naysayers are attaching their own fears of failure to your success. “Subconsciously, their fear lies in the fact that you might actually succeed,” she says. “If you have success facing your fears, then they might get left behind.”
She says most people are conditioned to view their future though a lens of limited beliefs. They are taught to play it safe. They’re taught that failure is bad, so they seek to protect themselves against things that might make them fail.
When people see someone close to them face the possibility of failure and succeed, that turns everything they believed about their own lives upside down. “If everyone else is out there fulfilling their wildest dreams, why am I sitting here in my drab reality?” says Anderson.
So how can you turn off the naysayers and follow your dreams?
Accept that concerns are more about them than you
Other people’s concerns about your potential for success or failure often have more to do with their realities than your own. They may not understand why you desire something different from what you have, or from what they have. Their fears are articulated in criticism, as they try to steer you toward the path of stability that they are more familiar with.
They may even be critical because they have a dream that they aren’t pursuing, and seeing someone else chase after their dreams reminds them of what they are too afraid to go after themselves. When they see people chasing their own dreams, going against the grain, it frightens them because it goes against the status quo of stability and may also remind them that they aren’t going after their own goals.
Learning to accept that the fears and concerns being spoken about are not really about you, but are about them, can help you to maintain a relationship with the naysayers.
Find your tribe of supporters
If your support doesn’t come from those close to you, seek out others in your community that will support you. Find a mentor or a group of like-minded individuals who support one another’s endeavors. Surround yourself with people who motivate and encourage you, and who can provide constructive feedback. Start by exploring networking groups with similar goals to yours. By being supportive of others, you’ll find that others become supportive of you. Investing your time and effort in a networking group is important to anyone, but is especially critical for people who don’t already have supportive individuals in their lives to encourage them when times get tough.
Make a plan for success
Identify the resources you need to make your dream a reality. This also means recognizing the areas where you may need help. Reach out to individuals who can provide assistance and help you in the areas where you are not strong yet. This is where having a network is hugely beneficial. Moving forward with a new career or a new business when your regular supporters aren’t full of encouragement can be difficult, but if you make a plan and find individuals who can support you in the areas you’re lacking, it will help you get there faster.
Being a visionary makes you different
“It takes vision and courage to leap headfirst into actualizing your dreams, and that’s what separates the innovators from the other end of the bell curve,” says Anderson. Take pride in your ability to be a visionary and be okay with others not understanding why you are doing it. Most successful entrepreneurs and innovators think in ways that other people don’t understand.
Turn negative opinions into positive outcomes
Changing your reaction to naysayers may mean you need to reinterpret their words. Instead of hearing “I don’t think this will work,” hear, “I’m excited, but also scared for you.” “By changing the narrative to something more productive, you can use this fuel as golden tokens of support that fill your piggy bank towards success,” says Anderson. If proving someone wrong is what motivates you, you may want to post those negative comments in a journal and turn to them when you need a push.