Got a Big Dream? Get Ready for Naysayers, Cheerleaders, and Other People’s Opinions
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Have you ever made an unpopular decision?
I’m not talking about fish sticks over chicken nuggets. I’m talking about taking your life in a completely different direction much to the displeasure of friends, extended family, casual acquaintances, and bystanders.
If so, I can relate. My one-way ticket to Greece was quite the bone of contention, both professionally and personally.
Not a lot of people understand when you put the brakes on your life and say, “Wait a minute, this isn’t where I want to go!” and then you pull a u-turn right in the middle of the road and head off to parts unknown.
A lot of folks talk about saying “screw it” and moving to an island or a cabin in the woods or living out of an RV or traveling the world with a suitcase and a laptop. But I think more of them talk themselves out of it than actually take the steps to do it.
And I understand that too. There’s a lot of pressure out there. Pressure from your bills, debts, workplace, family, significant other, children…the list can go on and on. It’s a decision only you can make.
And if you do make it, hold on to your halo, Angel.
Not everyone approves when you make big changes.
There was plenty of criticism from people who didn’t understand or support what I was doing, which was certainly disheartening. I would have thought that people who care about me would be happy I was able to make a lifelong dream happen, but people don’t work like that.
I won’t even hazard a guess about why boundaries were crossed with such heat and even vitriol, but please know that you, my dear friends, and I are both allowed to live the lives we want, as long as the lives we want don’t involve sacrificing virgins or strange things with livestock.
Also, know there will be those who disapprove, but you are the one in charge of your life. Maybe the critics are jealous because you choose to soar. Maybe they’re genuinely concerned. Maybe they’re just not nice people. It doesn’t matter why, though, and it’s a waste of time to try and figure it out.
I didn’t even announce this to my dear readers on my other website until after I’d already been in Greece for a while because I know quite a few will take me less seriously.
But none of us should live our lives for the approval of others.
Thank goodness for my cheerleaders
For every naysayer, there were cheerleaders, without whom I might not have taken this drastic and wonderful step. Those friends I could call at any time day or night and say, “This might sound crazy but…” and they’d talk it through with me.
And my daughters are truly fantastic humans who really wanted to see me go do something marvelous. They were behind me every single step of the way.
Every woman on an adventure needs a cheerleader to gently pry her fingers off the reigns of control now and then.
And there were also the people who asked the good questions like, “Why not?” and “Have you considered this?” and “What will you do about that?” These folks are the kind of enablers that helped me to plan things just enough to avoid catastrophe but not so much that it sucked all the fun out of things.
I love you guys, you know it?
Other people’s opinions are irrelevant.
Good or bad, happy or sad, the opinions of others are, in the long run, only as relevant as you allow them to be. It sounds trite to say, but life is short. How long do you have left to chase butterflies, daydream believer?
I decided that the age of 50, with an empty nest, was as good as any time. I only have a certain amount of time to wander around the globe without too much worry about my health and breaking a hip and grandbabies. So I went, filled with misgivings, wishes, and a sense of adventure. You can choose any day to change your life. I chose October 16, 2019.
There is never a perfect time.
How often have you heard someone say, “One day, I will….”
Or, “When I get married, I’m going to…”
Or, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds, and then I’ll…”
Or, “I can’t wait to retire and …”
You need to stop hinging your dreams on “one day.” If I waited to get married or to lose 50 pounds or to retire or to meet some other requirement for me to allow myself to be happy, I’d be sitting in Virginia instead of in the shadow of the Acropolis. I deserve to be happy whether or not I meet these arbitrary goals and so do you.
Your dream doesn’t have to be a trip around the world or a blissfully nomadic existence, either, to make it something you deserve. You earn your happiness by taking the steps you need to take, whether or not you’ve gotten married or lost weight or had children.
You are not a side chick to Life. You are the center of it, and if you’re not, it’s high time you made some changes, regardless of whether those around you like it or not.
Dealing with the critics
It’s all well and good to tell you to just do it and forget about the critics but that isn’t realistic. It hurts when the people we love are discouraging about our dreams. Right to the core.
I can’t help with that, because feelings are what they are.
The advice I do have is that you have to set some boundaries. You need to decide in advance of your announcement how much criticism you’re willing to accept. If it’s coming from people who you love, then you can have some answers prepared if their questions come from a place of concern. But make it clear that you have drawn a line they shouldn’t cross. Be ready to exit the conversation if they do.
If you’ve got a dream and you’ve made a plan and your announcement is greeted with a dull thud or worse, you can rely on your boundaries to protect you.
You may even want to have your plans engraved in stone before you make your announcement. I didn’t make my announcement until after I’d purchased my plane ticket to some folks, and others heard after I’d arrived in Europe. At that point, what can they really do? Aside from make you feel guilty/stupid/otherwise bad, not a whole lot.
You can do this.
You’re an adult, and you are allowed to live your life. Stop waiting for the “perfect time” and just make it happen. Your dream may not be travel and that’s just fine. Whatever it is, don’t wait. Make it happen.
And if you don’t have cheerleaders in your life? Tell us about your dreams here in the comments, and we’ll cheer you on.