All too often, we feel angry or hurt when we face resistance in life. It’s not because we are weak. It’s just that, it is difficult to hear criticism regarding something we feel so strongly about. Imagine telling your parents you’re not going to college because you want to be a yoga instructor. Or that you’re quitting your job to travel the world? What if you announce to your friends that you do not want to ever have children? What might happen? Many times, we are faced with some type of criticism. People might say you’re making a bad decision. They might think you’re crazy. They might even be angry with you. Are they wrong for feeling the way that they do?
The answer is no.
Loved ones want the best for you, so remember that opposition from those people come from a place of love. Its not because they don’t want you to be happy, its just that they can’t understand why you want to do this thing. It’s actually quite simple.
Each person walks to the beat of their own drum.
Each person, depending on his or her own life circumstance, creates their own idea or vision for their life. And as a result, there are many versions of ‘the perfect life’. When you announce something that is somewhat nontraditional (i.e., “I never want to have kids” or “I want to quit school and try to become a famous musician”), it is challenging for a person who doesn’t share that same value or life vision to be excited for you. If the person you are speaking with values financial security, then they will likely evaluate your announcement from a financial perspective (i.e., how will you earn income?, what about saving for a down payment of a house? what about saving for your retirement?). If the person you are speaking with values stability, career or family, they may also question how your plan will help achieve their goals.
That was NOT a typo.
I intentionally wrote ‘their goals’. Because its just that. We all do it (myself included). We judge or evaluate things based on our values. We wonder why someone else would buy a house when they could use that money to travel the world. Or why someone would forgo a high paying job to become an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter what you think. If that person wants to spend their money on a house or wants to be their own boss, let them. Hopefully they are staying true to their own highest value. You agree? Great! Then why do you get so bent out of shape when someone criticizes your idea?
It’s difficult for us to accept the idea that not everyone (including the people we care about the most) will be 100% supportive of our goals in life. Although I believe that we must all live our own lives, I do understand the sting felt when our loved ones are not fully supportive of our dreams. If you’re the same way, consider these points before, during and after you make an announcement about your plans:
Who is your audience? Knowing your audience is key because as I’ve mentioned, each person has their own set of values and those values determine the lens from which they view your news. If you are speaking with your parents, they may be concerned about your career, financial situation, safety, etc. So when you make the announcement, try to explain how your choice will address these issues. How will teaching English abroad help you develop a professional career? How will moving to New York City to ‘be discovered’ impact your financial stability? Being able to explain your goals and dreams in terms of their values will help them better understand what you are trying to do. It may also help them get on board with the idea too.
Is this goal really what you want for yourself? When faced with opposition, consider the points being made and really think about whether or not you want to move forward with your plan. Opposition is great because it helps us defend our position. If we’re not truly passionate about it, we’ll probably give up quickly. If that happens, then maybe it wasn’t such a great idea. If you make it through all the opposition and move forward with your goal, congratulations. You are now in the minority as most people give up when faced with opposition.
How much is their approval important to you? You should anticipate opposition and then be prepared for the fact that they may not ever be on board with your plan. Can you be okay with this?
In short, opposition is a blessing because it allows you to be certain that your goal is truly what you want. Do your best to communicate your plans in terms of the values of who you are speaking with. If you win them over, great! If not, don’t worry about it. Just like you won’t think everything they do in their life is a great idea, don’t be so distraught when they don’t love all your ideas.
Your Turn: When have you faced opposition when trying to work towards a dream? What did you do to overcome it?