Going against the grain, whether it’s dropping out of college to start a business or creatively carving your own path, almost always causes people to raise their eyebrows. Whenever you step out of the conventional norm, you will often face naysayers. Some you can ignore like your old high school classmates, but others you will have to address like your family members or friends.
It’s especially hard to ignore negative comments from people close to you. Sure, you have to be open to criticism, but when it’s not constructive, it will interfere with your progress if you let it. Once you decide to embark on your own journey, you will feel discouraged by the smallest things. In order to keep going, you will have to carefully design your environment. This means surrounding yourself with people who can support your growth and letting go of what won’t serve you. Ignoring naysayers is a big part of that.
Here are three naysayers I’ve come across since I started doing what I love – and how to address them:
1. “You don’t even know if this will work.”
From your concerned parents or other close family members.
Well, that’s the point. What’s the fun in knowing endings before beginnings? How can you really grow if you don’t ever take risks? Our comfort zone is cozy, it keeps us grounded. But when we stay in it for long, we don’t challenge ourselves to keep learning. We become complacent and give in to stagnancy.
Your life is the ultimate experiment. You figure out the answers as you go. The more you try new things, the more you find out about yourself and the closer you get to the truth. As Mark Zuckerberg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
2. “Wait until you have the resources to make it happen.”
From your close friends.
Maybe you don’t have an established network or a financial safety net, but you shouldn’t wait for these things to come to you. Ever heard of entrepreneurs who built their fortunes from scratch? Oprah Winfrey grew up in extreme poverty. JK Rowling was a broke single mother before creating Harry Potter. Steve Jobs started the largest technology company in his parents’ garage. I can go on about the many people who didn’t let a lack of financial resources interfere with the realization of their lifelong dream.
While everyone’s journey is different, we all have the ability to create our own opportunities. It’s the road less traveled because we tend to wait for things to happen to us, but it leads to the desired outcome. Trust your vision and get out there! No one will care unless you’re willing to put in the work.
3. “It’ll be a waste of time if you fail.”
From your skeptical colleague.
The fear of failure is so powerful it can paralyze someone into inaction if they let it. This has to do with the way we perceive failure. What is failure? Is it not getting a specific result or the fact that you took a chance and became more self-aware? Can one really lose if they gain new knowledge from each adventure?
No time is ever wasted on things you do with intention. Every new pursuit is helping you build your character. Whether or not you achieved your goal, you developed your skills, grew your network and added to your collection of experiences. How can that be considered a failure? There is always a silver lining. The sooner you realize something isn’t meant for you, the better you can apply your experience to the next endeavor and move on. Remember your thoughts have a direct impact on your actions. If you choose to think negatively about everything that happens to you, you will not show up for the work it takes to improve your situation. Learn how to roll with the punches, and above all, keep going (growing).
Achieving your goals starts with building a strong support system. You have to be mindful of the people you surround yourself with and the things you absorb. Whether you like it or not, you consume what’s around you. Be more intentional about it.
In a world where following a straight line is encouraged, carving your own path is unconventional. If you aren’t satisfied with where you are in life, take it upon yourself to change it. Don’t passively wait for people to hand you opportunities. The road to doing what you love is rocky. It’s lonely and there’s an obstacle at almost every corner.