For the longest time, I delayed telling my parents about my plan to go full-time RVing. I went back and forth with myself on when was the most appropriate time, how I should bring the subject up, and what exactly I was going to say. In the end, it just sort of came out while we were on the phone. I got about the response I had expected: they didn’t think it was a good idea, but said it was my decision, and wished me luck.
When you start telling people about any big unconventional dream that you have, there are a variety of responses you might receive. Some people will be excited for you, tell you to go for it, and encourage you along the way. Some might not ‘get it’, but will still wish you the best, and still others might be neutral and not have an opinion either way.
But then you’ll come across people who won’t be supportive. Maybe they’re against the idea because they’re genuinely concerned on your behalf that you’ll fail or it won’t work out, my parents fell into this category. You could try sending them materials on the subject as well as give them a run down on what your plans are so far, and answer questions they may have. A lot of times people fear what they don’t understand, so helping them to understand might ease these fears.
Once they realize that this isn’t just a whim and that you’ve put a considerable amount of thought into it they may come around, or maybe not. Either way, you shouldn’t stress yourself out trying to convince someone that this is a good decision for you. Some people just can’t see that reaching for something outside of the norm can be a valid and in fact very fulfilling choice.
Then there are the naysayers. When you tell someone in this category about your big plans, you’ll get a strong negative response. It’s possible they might mock or criticize you behind your back, but often they’ll be quite open and clear that there is no way you can accomplish x, y, or z, and then proceed to tell you why. Trying to reason with these people is usually pointless. They’re convinced that they are right, and it’s not worth the time and effort to argue with them. In fact, the best response is often just to walk away, even though it may leave you feeling frustrated.
The reason why some people react this way is interesting to think about. After all, assuming the person in question isn’t a close relative, your success or failure likely would have little impact on their life, so why should they be so concerned about whether you can do it or not? Here are a couple of theories.
Perhaps they’re pushing their own insecurities off on you. They could be too afraid to follow their own dreams, or they don’t want to put forth the effort to try, so when you tell them of your plans it makes them feel inadequate. No one likes feeling inadequate, so these people rationalize their decision not to try by deciding it’s impossible to do. To reinforce this belief, they then attempt to bring down anyone who does dare to try.
Or, maybe they’re mistakenly convinced that your success would mean their failure. Clearly, in some instances like competitive sports, there can only be a certain number of winners. One team wins, the other team loses. This is also true in traditional employment, where the farther up the ladder you get the more privileges there are to be had, but the competition for these positions gets fierce. Some people believe this competition extends beyond that, that life is a zero-sum game, and only a small number of lucky winners get to live out their life’s dream, therefore they try to shoot down others trying to do the same to increase their chances.
Whatever the reason, the farther you get with your big idea, the more likely you’ll be to attract the attention of naysayers. Sometimes they will make you doubt your intentions, abilities, and determination, and you might find yourself wondering if you can really accomplish your dream.
To combat this, find and connect with people who are supportive of your decision and want to see you succeed. The environment we place ourselves in plays a huge role in our lives, and choosing to surround yourself with positive people can make a big difference. If you’re just starting out on your path and don’t have anyone in your immediate circle of friends who qualifies, try making it a priority to find other people who are trying to accomplish the same thing as you, and introduce yourself. This way, you’ll have people to bounce your ideas off of, as well as a built in support network for the times when the naysayers and fatigue start to take their toll.
If you’ve encountered a naysayer before, how did you deal with them? How do you approach bringing up your Big Idea with new people who might react unexpectedly?
Image courtesy of Lata Pita