One of the biggest challenges we face when pursuing goals and dreams is risking the backlash that can result when others can’t envision those same goals and dreams that we can see so vividly. And naturally, we desire to share our visions for the future with those individuals closest to us. Let’s face it. Our family and friends can be our biggest advocates or our harshest critics.
For today’s discussion, I’m going to focus on the “harshest critics” and how to manage those tough moments when the support you’re expecting to receive from those you love (for something you love or would love to do) is lacking. Check out some of the rhetoric that you might hear from your critics (originally appearing in my debut book, Playground Instruction for the Growing Adult):
Others aren’t necessarily going to pat you on the back. In fact, they may try to discourage you, tell you that you’re wasting your time and energy, that your time would be best spent doing something else productive, and that what you’re trying to do has been done by so many other people that the market is saturated to the core and you’re just too late. They may say that what you’re trying to do isn’t going to amount to anything . . . that you never finish what you start . . . that there’s no way you can make a living doing the thing you love. Or, the others simply act disinterested altogether and don’t bother to look into the life processes you’re attempting to undertake.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of such language, then you’re in for an installment of “The Art of People Business” that will, hopefully, direct you in navigating through future negative sentiments that may come your way. And, here we go.
How Family and Friends React to Your Vision
Yes, your family and friends love you. This statement is not in question or meant to be challenged in any way throughout this article. However, the roles your loved ones play and their behaviors, involving your current and future endeavors, ARE the topics of discussion. If truth be told, family and friends can love you and, at the same time, display some very complex human behaviors that can be difficult to internalize. And those behaviors may come in the form of that pushback (or lack of attention) you might receive, regarding your vision. Here are some examples for you to be prepared for:
- skepticism – negative and doubtful about the undertaking you’re pursuing
- envy – desiring the passion you have for the pursuit of your undertaking and not willing to acquire their own passion by their own merit
- resentment – bitterness directed at you for pursuing your undertaking
- disinterest – not interested in looking into the undertaking you’re pursuing
- too busy with the day-to-day – too much going on in their own lives to look into the undertaking you’re pursuing
- misunderstanding – don’t understand what it is you’re pursuing
To be truly transparent with you, I ain’t even gonna act like I’ve never been guilty of displaying some of these behaviors with my own family and friends or play like I haven’t experienced them being directed toward me. Behaviors, such as the ones just mentioned, are quite prevalent throughout the daily interactions that we engage in as human beings. And, if these human interactions and reactions are so commonplace in life, how do we, as visionaries, prepare for them and help soften the blow when we’re on the receiving end? Well, I’ve got a couple of sections in this article devoted to solutions and they’re coming right up.
Communicating Your Vision
Lack of communication has bitten many-a-person in the rear when it comes to developing and maintaining relationships. So, it’s safe to assume that not communicating your vision to family and friends can lead to some of those undesirable reactions you’d like to avoid.
When it comes to communicating your vision, it’s imperative that you engage in interaction that is two-way. In other words, clearly communicate your message and make sure your listener comprehends what you’re saying by having him or her relay what was heard and what was understood from the message. Then, allow the listener to ask you questions to help clarify and solidify the message in his or her mind.
By providing as much detail as you’re comfortable in delivering, you allow your loved ones to base their opinion of your future goals on your information instead of making up their own assumptions (which will more than likely be different than reality). Here are a few suggested items that you’ll want to communicate in order to help your vision take shape in your family’s and friends’ minds. You’ll want to let them know:
- what it is you’re doing or you would like to do
- why you’re doing it or would like to do it
- what outcomes you’re expecting to see and how you and others will be affected by these outcomes
- the costs in time, money, and resources to pursue your vision
- how he or she can be involved in your vision (which leads me to the next section)
Involving Your Loved Ones
Generally speaking, when people feel like they’re in the dark about things, it’s usually because they weren’t given an opportunity to be involved with those things in the first place. Participation is key to a person’s buy-in in any type of endeavor. So, I’m a firm believer that the more your family and friends are given those opportunities to be involved in the pursuit of your vision, the more buy-in they’ll have toward your goal-setting and goal-achievement process. And the more support they’ll be willing to give to your effort, the quicker you can reach your vision.
It’s your process, so you control the amount and kinds of involvement that you allow from your family and friends. But, don’t forget to be perfectly clear in communicating how they can assist you through your process. Otherwise, you might find yourself receiving the kind of participation you’re not truly looking for. Here are some ways to involve your family and friends:
- Welcome their feedback – ONLY if you’re comfortable in receiving constructive criticism, because you’re sure to get it in droves (if you allow it). I personally think feedback is a great way to involve family and friends in your process. It’s always a good idea to have checks and balances in anything you do. And, receiving critiques from others can draw your attention to areas in your process, where improvements are needed.
- Assign Accountability Partners – an Accountability Partner is a person who will hold you responsible for doing what you say you’re going to do. And, family and friends are likely choices for fulfilling such a role. Just remember to be specific in communicating how you would like them to function in their roles. (And don’t get upset with them when they actually do what you’ve asked them to do.) For instance, you can have your Accountability Partners be responsible for monitoring your progress and successes toward goal achievement, rewarding you when you meet benchmarks along your process, reprimanding you for not meeting expectations, etc.
- Accept resources from others – allow others to contribute their time and energy to assisting you in your endeavor. And if they’re not able to give of themselves, allow them to offer money or tangible resources toward your goal-seeking efforts. Sometimes, folks just want opportunities to invest in the ones they love.
Well, I’ve given you my top suggestions for handling the delicate topic of lack of family and friend buy-in when it comes to your vision . . . your dream in-the-making. And, I want to leave you with some food for thought.
If this topic of discussion is plaguing you right now, I encourage you to write down these 3 calls to action (in some place you can look at daily) to help guide you through your current and future encounters with negativity, lack of interest, and pushback from your loved ones. Let these calls to action be a constant reminder to let positivity reign in your life.
Guard your spirit.
Don’t take it personally.
Don’t let their hang-ups be yours.
REMEMBER: don’t let your family and friends project their negative attitudes on to you. Close that negativity off. Don’t accept it and don’t appease it. If you’re passionate about your pursuit, then give it all you’ve got, even if the naysayers are doing everything they can to put out that fire to succeed that burns so deeply within. Live your life and strive for your goals. You’re the only one who can take the action to do it.