A couple of days ago I took a step that felt pretty bold but very exciting: I’ve shared my new website and blog posts with all my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. People started to visit my website, likes trickled in from my FB page and I could track the number of people who read my blog posts. The rush I felt was amazing, but I was filled with doubt at the same time. Was this the right time to let people know what I’m working on? Should I have waited?
When I looked online for some guidance, I was overwhelmed with all the different opinions on the subject.
Some say the real difference between people who walk the walk and those who don’t can be gauged by how much a person is talking about her goals. According to this view, people who are really successful and tend to achieve their goals are usually the ones who keep their cards close to their chest and keep quiet about their goals - until they actually achieve them.
These are the people, who just smile enigmatically on meetups whilst everyone else is shouting their plans from the rooftop - and apparently these same people are also the ones who eventually surprise everyone around them when they suddenly emerge with their already worked-out big thing.
So should you say something or should you just keep at it quietly, until you have something to show for it?
If you try to find the answer online, you’ll soon be confronted with controversial advice:
Don’t say a word, because if you fail, the naysayers will have a field day;
Tell everyone, so their raised expectation will keep you accountable;
Keep quiet and then launch your new thing (let it be a book, beach body or new business) with a massive bang, once it’s all ready to go;
Talk about your goals, because that will keep your brain engaged and focused on it;
The high you get from talking about your dreams will actually prevent you from actively working on them;
But you need to have a support system, so get people on board;
Although your family and friends may try to talk you out of your grand scheme, so maybe it’s best if you keep it to yourself.
Is your head spinning yet? Mine started to.
The trouble is that this isn’t a purely academic question: we have to deal with this each time we set our heart on a goal. Why? Well, partly because more than likely you don’t live under a rock and if you try to achieve a new goal, your nearest and dearest will probably notice it. As part of your journey you’ll start doing things: go to the gym every other day, eat healthier, attend evening courses or whip out your banjo/sewing machine/acrylic paints etc. People who care about you will eventually notice. Even if you don’t seek their approval, you will need their acceptance of the new situation.
But there is another issue why you need to figure out how and when to share your goals with others: sooner or later you will bump into an obstacle, or you have to face some negative reaction from the ones you love the most, or simply your enthusiasm and drive fades (which happens more often than we like to admit - life tends to have an effect like this on goals). Moments like those will make you yearn for a support group that is aware of your situation and ready to help - but how can you get that support, if you’re technically not supposed to share your goals and dreams with others too soon?
So what is the right strategy? What would benefit you and those around you the most? Let’s take a look.
The most likely opposition
Although we all dream of having supportive, encouraging family members and friends, this isn’t always the case (sadly). I would even go as far as to say that the ones closest to you can put up the biggest fight when you try to achieve something new.
It usually boils down to the fact that by embarking on a new journey you are starting a process of changing, and that often scares the sweet bejesus out of your nearest and dearest. They realise that by doing what you’re doing, you will change somewhat, and change usually scares people. That safe cocoon that was your family life or friendship is changing: maybe you’ll be out of the house some evenings doing your thing, and that affects the routine they’ve gotten used to.
Or maybe your best friend will suddenly question how she fits into your new life now that you have all your other projects on.
The bottom line is, that whatever you’re trying to achieve, it comes with change, and change scares people. People subconsciously see it as a threat, but they often don’t even realise that.
So how can you ensure that your family and friends would become supportive of your goals?
In her book, Wishcraft, Barbara Sher suggests to involve our loved ones in our quests. She says that more often than not, our closest ones may end up feeling shut out if we only share with them our amazing ideas and triumphs. As an alternative, she suggests that we should gently involve them in the new aspect of our lives.
That requires something that doesn’t necessarily come easy: to share with them our worries, doubts and insecurities, and enlist them to help in small (or big) ways. This way they will suddenly feel needed and it makes them feel good about themselves and about your goals and dreams you are pursuing.
Once you have your close ones on board, you’ll have a lot easier job to achieve your goals. It is possible though that they won’t be so supportive, in which case you’ll have to do two things: you’ll need to communicate very clearly why your goals are so important to you, and they’ll have to be just OK with it. The other thing is to work out the logistics involved in the new situation so your dubious family members won’t become an obstacle.
The opinion of our loved ones is very important to us, we want to be supported and accepted by them, but sometimes it doesn’t happen instantaneously or it doesn’t happen at all, and it can be hard. If that’s the case, my suggestion is to tactfully avoid the subject of your new endeavours with them, because in order to keep up with your plans, you’ll need to shield yourself from constant criticism and discouragement.
On the other hand, you’ll need support and positive reinforcement on your journey, so you’ll need to find the people who can provide you with that. And that’s why it’s very important to build
Your Support Network
Here’s the reason why I have an issue with the silent-type, overnight success stories. They’re simply not true. Even those diligent, quiet heroes, who seemingly became an overnight success had probably years of hard work, trial and error behind them, and more than likely they had a support network. Even the most successful person has to deal with doubt, massive obstacles or disappointment, and it’s incredibly hard to deal with those without having some people in our corner.
What I’m talking about here is a mixture of mentors, who can offer you insight and experience and people who are probably in the same situation as currently you are and who are willing to support you. It’s a cocktail of guidance, emotional support, brainstorming for good ideas and being there for you when you need it the most. We all need this, often desperately, and those, who don’t ensure their access to such a support network often fail on their journey. This is the nourishment the seed requires once it’s been planted.
Isolation is a dreamkiller.
This is one of Barbara Sher’s key messages, and she went on and proved it to be true, many-many times. That’s why she created Success Teams and this is why I’ve decided those years ago to become a Success Team Leader (and now run my own Buzz Teamz): because it works and there is nothing more rewarding to me than watching people to flourish as they go after their dreams.
When we go after something new, there is a lot we don’t know and even more that can stop us on our tracks, so having people on the ready to support us can just mean the difference between giving up and succeeding. I know, talking about difficulties, or admitting that we don’t know something is not sexy, and probably not as Instagram-ready, but it’s the reality of going after our goals, and we need to have strategies available for times like that.
Whatever it is you are trying to achieve, make sure that you surround yourself with the right people. Join some Facebook groups, or courses, visit meetup groups and make sure that you have access to people who can help and support you. And don’t forget that the best way to have these people on your side for a long time is to return the favour, and help them on their journey, either by sharing your knowledge and experiences or by providing emotional support. The more you help others, the more support you will get in return.
Have those precious people in your life, and make sure to pay forward whatever you receive.
Isolation is a dreamkiller. If you want to see your dream become a reality, you have to have people who support you. So yes, do tell people about what you want to achieve.
But be selective.
Tell those who need to know, and then find your tribe where you can enter into a supportive, give-and-take relationship with likeminded people.
It will truly change your life, for the better.