When we were growing up, we all had dreams. But the sad reality is that not all of us came from supportive families or environments. And if that sounds like you, then you might have given up on your dreams a long time ago. Or maybe they’re still alive, but there are still negative people in your life who discourage you as you follow your dreams.
Whatever your dream may be, there will probably be some naysayers who try to discourage you. But don’t let them – you need to pursue it anyway. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be the CEO of a company, open your own restaurant, get a Ph.D., or backpack across the world. You have to remember that it’s never too late. But, you have to overcome those pesky naysayers first. If you don’t, then you won’t believe in yourself enough to follow through.
Let’s start out by talking about 3 ways negative people might try to discourage you from pursuing your dreams.
1. People will try to criticize you for pursuing your dream.
Let’s face it. Most people are very judgmental. They view life in terms of “black and white” or “right vs. wrong” instead of seeing the world in shades of gray. If your point of view is different than theirs, you will probably hear why you are wrong. You will receive criticism. Don’t buy into it, because if you do, it will just break down your dream. When people criticize others, they are coming from a place of fear. They may be thinking, “What if he/she succeeds? Then maybe I will look like a loser in comparison.” But that’s their problem, not yours.
2. Some people will tease you about your dream.
Teasing is just a different form of criticizing. Sure, it seems like it’s all fun and games. Yes, it may even look like the other person is really supporting you because they will have a smile on their face and say, “Oh I’m just joking! Lighten up!” Masking criticism with teasing is still criticism. It’s just dressed up nice and pretty. So make sure you recognize it when you see it.
3. Other people may even ignore or avoid talking about your dream. And they may even avoid talking to you altogether.
If pursuing your dream makes others uncomfortable, they may just take the avoidance route. Maybe talking about it just reminds them of how they are not going after their own dreams. Or maybe they are such a pessimist that they simply cannot see how anyone’s dream could ever be realized. But again, remember that this is their problem, not yours.
But here are some things you can do to follow your dreams anyway:
1. Thank them for their opinion.
Instead of getting defensive when people criticize your dream, thank them for their opinion. This will disarm them. People do not expect kind, loving words to be directed back at them when they are purposely trying to tear you down. So when you thank them, say something like, “I appreciate you sharing your opinion with me. It gives me something to think about. However, I am still passionate about pursuing my dream, so I will take your advice into consideration in the future if I need to do so. But for now, I’m going to continue on.”
2. Talk to them about it.
Many people aren’t used to talking through their problems when they have major disagreements. But this is a very valuable way to clear the air. When you begin the conversation, do it non-judgmentally. Say something like, “I get the impression you do not think me pursuing my dream is a good choice. Am I right? I would like to talk to you more about it and explain why I am so passionate about it.” Refrain from becoming defensive and approach the conversation with a “team” mentality instead of a “me vs. you” mentality.
3. Ignore talking about your dream to avoid their negativity.
If talking it out doesn’t work, then you are not obligated to go out of your way to talk about your dream with them. When the topic comes up in conversation, you can gently remind them that since they are not supportive, you would rather not talk about it. If you continue to be exposed to their negativity, it can affect you–but only if you allow it to. Simply avoiding the topic might be the best option with some people.
4. Sever ties with them.
If you can’t talk it out or successfully avoid the topic, then you might have to completely stop seeing them. Obviously, this depends on the type of relationship. It is not likely or advisable that you sever ties with your parents or family. However, if it’s a friend or a co-worker, perhaps having their “naysayer attitude” out of your life for good might help you stay focused on your dream.
5. Listen to them.
Sometimes people seem like they are criticizing when in fact they are simply offering some advice based on experience. It is wise to listen. That doesn’t mean that you have to follow what they say, but gathering as much information and opinions as you can is actually a good thing. Being open to advice will allow you to be flexible with your strategies to achieve your dreams. Maybe something they say will help you in the long run.
6. Keep going anyway.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: don’t give up!! It’s way too easy to believe all the negativity and buy into the fact that your dream is unreasonable. Remember, nothing is impossible! If you want it badly enough, you will find a way. Keep your passion, and you will definitely make your dreams come true some day!
It doesn’t matter whether you are 9 or 99, as long as you are still breathing, you still have the chance to make your dreams come true. So are you going to let those naysayers stand in your way? Or are you going to take the steps necessary to follow through on your dreams? The choice is yours, but the latter sounds like a much better option!