You should’ve heard what other people (relatives included!) told me when I said I was giving up my successful law career to be a full-time relationship and career coach:
- “What about all the time, money, and energy you invested to become a lawyer?”
- “But you’re licensed to practice in THREE states!!!” (as if California, Illinois, and Florida would suffer crushing droughts by having one less lawyer in their overly-saturated pools of graduating and practicing attorneys)
- “What will your former colleagues think when they hear you gave up on law because you couldn’t handle it?”
- “You don’t have any skills that translate to anything other than practicing law.”
- “A life coach? What is that – a glorified cheerleader who gets paid to pep talk people?”
Not to mention the laughs I got, the wide-eyed reactions, the heads shaking in disbelief and disapproval. Were my feelings hurt? Certainly. Did I care about their reactions? Yes. But did I care enough not to do what my heart was telling me, just so other people would approve of me? No freaking way.
It’s crazy to me how many people turn their backs on their dreams because they fear what other people will think. But guess what? What other people think about your life is not your business. Your business is to figure out what you really, really want in your life, why you want it, and then pursue it like the Tasmanian Devil in sight of Bugs Bunny.
Not convinced yet? Well, here are four very good reasons why you need to follow your dreams even when (and especially when) others don’t approve.
- It’s your life, baby.
Will the people who disapprove of your choices pay your bills? Will they be your therapist when you feel overwhelmed with sadness, discontent and regret for choosing to live your default life rather than pursuing your passion? Will they be there in five, 10, or 20 years to peel you off of your bathroom floor when you break down one random Tuesday after another soul-crushing day at your unfulfilling job?
Didn’t think so. So don’t let them make your choices today. Why would you let two minutes of another person’s thoughts affect your entire life? And remember this when you’re tempted to judge others’ life choices: Only you know what matters to you, and the same goes for everybody else.
- Naysayers are projectors.
People who are unsupportive are often in delusion or denial about their own decisions. They’re simply jealous of what you are doing—what they wish they had the courage to do. People will either support you, be indifferent to you, or disagree with you. Only the supportive people count, so surround yourself only with THOSE people.
- Something magical is brewing when resistance is strongest.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Fear is a good sign because it means that what you want is important! Worrying about what people think is an extension of this fear. Our fear seeks critics to be proven correct—that what we want is out of reach. This fear will try to trick you like a thief and rob you of your dreams. Don’t let it!
- Statistics don’t mean sh*t.
Ever heard of the term “skillionaire?” Neither had I until I listened to a TED Talk earlier this week. A “skillionaire” is someone who demonstrates that success has no prerequisites. And there is a boatload of living, breathing proof that you don’t need an Ivy League education to succeed in anything; you don’t need connected parents to propel you forward; you don’t need any of the things people tell you that you need to achieve your dreams. Cases in point: Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Louise Hay, Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. What do they all have in common? They all lack college degrees. Did that hold them back from being uber-successful? Heck no! If you want to be an entrepreneur, writer, entertainer, motivational speaker—whatever it is—and you keep hearing how you’ll never make a living, remind yourself of the above success stories.
In a world packed with cynics, don’t be one of them. Be too busy doing your thing. Focus on your dreams and turn those dreams into your reality. Do the work. And the only person you need on your side? It’s you. Because no one, besides you, gets the final say in your life.