We are pleased to share this guest post from reader, writer, and traveler Gigi Griffis. Today’s topic, dealing with the naysayers to your dream, is a great lead in for our upcoming release of the second edition of Dream Save Do. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive advance notice of the release and the first chapter from the book.
I’ve had nay-sayers in my life for as long as I can remember.
You know the ones: the well-intentioned friends, family, and even strangers who are concerned that if you start a business at 26, you’ll fail spectacularly and become a homeless vagabond. Or if you quit your job and travel the world for a year, you’ll get malaria and be eaten by a crocodile (possibly at the same time). Or if you get that English degree, you’ll work at Wendy’s for forever.
They mean well (usually), these nay-sayers. Or at least I like to think that they do. They want you to be financially secure, to have a roof over your head, to live a long, healthy life.
But they don’t get it. They don’t get that a long and healthy life isn’t enough for you. That you also want to scale that mountain peak, jump off the ledge, change the world.
They also don’t get that their feedback can wear on you. That they’re making obstacles where perhaps none existed before.
So…how do you deal with them gracefully? How do you take that deep breath, push through their wall of doubts, and leap into your dreams?
Perhaps my story will help:
Nearly ten years ago now, I was sitting on the floor of my dorm room crying my eyes out. I wanted desperately to be a writer—and, in keeping with that goal, I wanted to change my major to English. But, oh, the nay-saying! Older, wiser people that I trusted were vehemently against the idea. Why would I change my major to English when I could do something practical?
“You’ll never get a good job!” (They cried.)
“Major in something practical!” (They begged.)
“That starving artist thing isn’t a joke!” (They scolded.)
I battled for a long time on that floor, eventually deciding to do what I loved, even if it was the longer, harder road and no one but me believed in it.
It was my first hard lesson: to trust my heart and to beware anyone who says “always” or “never.”
Fast-forward a few years: I was then working as a copywriter at an ad agency. I loved the writing. I loved the clients. But I was tired of working late into the night, feeling constantly tired, spending my time and resources building someone else’s business. My heart said that it was time to start my own business. And as I quietly, then boldly, announced my dream, the nay-sayers grew wide-eyed and began to outline the lengthy list of why It Would Never Work.
“You’re too young,” was the most common nay-say, followed by some variation of: “Most businesses fail in the first two years.”
This time, there were no tears on the bedroom floor. This time I felt the fear, I recognized the anxiety, I listened politely to the nay-sayers, and then I politely dismissed them from my business.
After all, none of these people had started their own businesses. Let alone at the age of 26.
This was my second, less difficult lesson: you can choose whose opinions matter. And, for me, it makes sense to choose people who are living their own dreams, following their own hearts, living the life they choose. I chose not to make other people’s fears my own.
I also learned that it gets easier. The more you follow your dreams, the more you build confidence in your ability to make those dreams happen. And the less the nay-sayers weigh on you.
I hired someone to design my new business website that week.
Finally, fast-forward with me once more to 2011, when I’d been successfully self-employed for a whole year.
I was dreaming again: dreaming of taking my small business and my small dog and traveling around the world.
Boy, did those nay-sayers not like that idea.
But this time I was ready for them. When they said that traveling with a dog was impossible or that I’d lose all my clients or that I wouldn’t be able to work, what with all the distractions of Scotland or Paris or Prague, I listened politely and promptly forgot about their objections.
Because by then I knew that just because they presented a problem, didn’t mean I couldn’t find a solution. Just because they were afraid to leap off the edge and into their dreams, didn’t mean I had to be.
Which brings me to today:
Today I am in Paris. I still have my successful little small business. I am a writer. And I travel full-time with my dog.
So when it comes to your nay-sayers, remember that it isn’t their life. It’s yours. All yours. And what you do with it and how you do it is all yours too.
And also remember that your nay-sayers are people. They’re nay-saying because they’re scared. And the best way to handle them? Kindly thank them for their input and continue your course. And when they timidly peek their own dreams out into the light, be there to encourage them to battle past their own fears and nay-sayers.
Your life will be all the richer for it.
Author Bio: Gigi Griffis is a writer and humorist with a penchant for snuggly puppies, new places, and Italian cooking. In May 2012, she sold her stuff and took to the road with a growing business and a pint-sized pooch. You can read all about her adventures on her travel blog, you can hire her to write awesome stuff for your website, and she’d love to be friends on Facebook.