This is part 3 in my Motivation Mojo series:
Unless you live your life as a hermit in a mountain cave, you cannot escape being surrounded by people. Your coworkers, immediate family, members of your church, the friends you cherish – these are the people who live vicariously through you, who want to enjoy your successes with you and encourage you to be your best. Some people, whether consciously or subconsciously, can’t stand to see you do better than them and will try to hold you back. Then there are the people who just can’t understand why you want what you want, especially if its a different choice than they’d make themselves.
In the end, the intent behind a person’s negative words doesn’t matter. The fact that they mean well doesn’t take the sting out of their deflating words. A casual remark, unsolicited advice or unexpected criticism can infiltrate your thoughts and cause you to doubt yourself and the validity of your goals. This is doubly potent when you already doubt yourself and are trying to hold your dreams together in your mind.
Erect Your Own Fortress
Here’s a familiar scenario:
You: Mom, I’m so excited. I’ve been rehearsing my routines every chance I get and doing alot of networking. Well yesterday, I met an agent who I think could really help me make it as a dancer.
Mom: Well… that’s nice sweetie… but don’t you think you’re a little too old for this?
You: *stunned silence*
[that bright, shiny bubble that your dream resided in has just popped…]
Mom: Most of the girls who really make it have been dancing since they were 5. You know how hard it is to pay a mortgage off the kind of money you’re gonna be making? And what about all those student loans you gotta pay back. How do you plan to do that? When do you plan on settling down and starting a family? You should be grateful for the job you have, in this economy, and you wanna up and quit and be a dancer….
[At this point, your dream jumps out of your brain, slits its wrists and slinks off to a quiet corner to die alone.]
Here’s the thing.
Your mom (or best friend, or the old lady at church, your significant other or whomever) means well. She wants you to live a happy, comfortable life. She’s probably remembering what its like to struggle and wants more out of life for her baby. Plus she knows how smart you are and what you’re capable of.
Nevertheless, she’s totally projecting her fears on you: fear that you won’t make it, fear that you’ll be hurt, disappointed and disillusioned from not reaching your goals (even though her words hurt you more than anyone else’s can), and fear that she’ll never be a grandma at the rate you’re going (which just might be the greatest fear, depending on who’s mother we’re talking about here).
When your plans are in their infancy, you can’t afford to be subjected to these kinds of questions. Because you’re not prepared to answer them confidently and dismiss them from your mind. Casting the shadows of doubt and uncertainty over your fledgling dreams will not help them sprout and grow; in fact, they’re more likely to die a premature death if they’re exposed to the light too early.
So what can you do?
Keep your plans to yourself.
That’s right, my friend, sometimes discretion really is the greater part of valor. So keep your big mouth shut. Don’t waste your breath talking about something that you haven’t mentally nailed down yet, because you’re opening yourself up to unnecessary criticism and naysaying. Most of the time, I’d say keep your lips sealed about your goals until you have a rock-solid plan of how you’ll reach them. Honestly, I think its best to keep totally quiet until the goal is accomplished, but that can be difficult.
Know who is safe to share with.
You pretty much know how the people closest to you are going to react. If I say anything to my mother about prolonging the likelihood of her becoming a grandma, she’s going to pull out those missing weapons of mass destruction on me. That’s a fact. So why would I set myself up by sharing those things with her? Because honestly, no matter what she says, I live my life for me. Its pointless for her to raise her blood pressure.
I’m not advocating that you lie to your loved ones. But I am advocating that you be smart about who you share certain things with. Begin to practice the need-to-know filter system with your personal information: if they don’t need to know (are they paying for it? Doing you a favor to help you get it? Are they going to help you hide the bodies?) then save your breath to cool your tea.
Let’s be totally honest here – people don’t tell you everything about their lives. Why do you feel the need to do so? Sometimes it does you more harm than good.
Be selective with what you share.
If its not possible for you to keep your goals to yourself, then it might be possible not to divulge everything. For example, if you dream of moving to another part of the country, I’d advise to at least give the family members that need to know that information. Don’t tell your aunt Ruby who is not only going to have something negative to say, but will probably call you names like uppity and ungrateful. Its not like she’s helping you pack boxes or throwing you a going away party. Why does she need to know?
But it’ll probably get back to Aunt Ruby, right? And then she’s gonna tell others who have nothing positive to say about you or your plans. So when you discuss with the family members that need to know, make your plans sound as positive as possible, even if you’re feeling doubtful deep down about them. If you want to move to meet more eligible men, be creative and say you’ll gain new opportunities to improve yourself and grow as a person.
Say you’ve always wanted to know what life is like in that state. And you’re not lying at all. But if you say you’re moving to get a man (and there is nothing wrong with that!!) then you know you’re setting yourself up if you tell your family that. Its none of their business why, they only need to know the select information that pertains to them.
When I turned 30 last year, I embraced the benefits of being a little older and wiser. One of the biggest lessons I realized was how much other people’s opinion and thoughts about me really didn’t matter. People don’t spend the time thinking about us that we imagine they do. Once they spew their hurtful words, they likely won’t even ponder the conversation or our goals again. So why give them the opportunity to unconsciously dampen our enthusiasm?
Another point to keep in mind, is that these offhand remarks often become the echo that repeats in our mind about why we shouldn’t pursue a goal. We’ve seen how much work it can be to control your mind – don’t give it another thought that you have to work hard to control.