Lately, I’ve heard a few different people mention that they feel like they’ve got zero support in their quests. One friend mentioned that her friends and family not only doubted her goals, they offered little to no positive encouragement. She was hurt, and disgusted. Does it feel impossible to reach for your goals when no one supports you?
Here are three things to keep in mind when it feels like you’re all alone in your pursuit of awesome:
They don’t know what it looks like.
Let’s be honest: the majority of people don’t take a lot of risks or put themselves in vulnerable positions. Because of this, the majority of people also don’t know what it looks like to do so. Remember, something like three percent of adults even write down their goals for the year. So it’s just unusual to see someone striking out in an intentional way. If they love you, they’re likely worried you’ll fail and end up hurt. That’s how their well-meaning warnings can pierce your heart.
Try not to take any of this personally. I mean, unless you want to filter out their love and concern and ditch the rest. It’s not that anyone in this camp wants to hurt you, they just have no earthly idea how to respond to you because they don’t have any context or experience with a similar situation. You can choose to keep your dreams and ambitions to yourself and avoid any blank stares or awkward conversations. Or, you can divulge your grand plans and do damage control by investing a lot of time reassuring the ones you love that you won’t end up in a tailspin if things don’t work out according to your strategy.
But, what about me?
I know–it’s not fair to have to do so much emotional maintenance for others when you could be spending that effort pouring everything you’ve got into accomplishing your goal. That’s why I recommend keeping your ideas and aims close to your heart for a while. Doing too much explaining will have you walking the razor’s edge of doubt and fear, and I want you to allow a wide berth around those emotions. Also, it’s really cute to watch people respond when they found out you’ve achieved something huge. They’re just so amazed! Basking in amazement is way more fun than arguing your position 🙂
They don’t know how afraid you are.
Like we discussed above, most people don’t know the fear, doubt, and confusion that can hit someone reaching for stretch goals. So when they’re not supporting you, it may be that they have no idea you even need encouragement. To them, you seem like one bad dude, drop-kickin’ doubt and throat-punchin’ fear on the daily. But this illusion can be isolating. If your circle of friends sees you as ultra-tough, they’re more likely to give you space when you actually need check-in’s.
Make it a habit to text one or two people in your inner circle on a weekly basis. You can say something like, “Hey, it’s Motivation Monday, and I’m feeling like garbage about my __________. Send some motivational vibes this way, please!” And don’t forget to extend similar support for them, too.
They resent giving up on their own dreams.
Now, people in this group fall into two distinct corners. In one corner, you’ll find those who are unconsciously resentful that their lives didn’t go the way they hoped. Due to circumstances, real-life plot twists, or unfortunate decisions, they’re so far off their own target, they’re as disoriented as a possum in the daytime. (Sorry, had to throw in one Appalachian simile.) So if they’re mean or cold or passive-aggressive, don’t hold it against them. They’re in pain. And no matter what they say to the contrary, it will do their heart good to see you win.
Then, there are the folks in the other corner. You just need to avoid these people, period. You know the ones. They’re hateful to be hateful, despising you for acting with intentionality and hope. Maybe their hope was stolen by truly tragic circumstances, but they gave up even trying to regain it, probably long ago. In most cases, this crew blames the universe, the community, their oppressors, anyone and everyone, and totally denies their role in the loss. They’ve lived off their bitterness for so long it’s like a drug–they need it, they don’t want to quit, and they’ll lash out at anyone that threatens their access to it.
The truth is…
This is hard, but you can’t help them until they want help. Most of the time, you just need to cease any contact with them. In rare — RARE — cases, you might feel such a heavy obligation, you could say something like, “I know you’re hurting. This [helpful resource] really helped me during a painful time.” Pray for them, but keep your distance. Trust me, anything else you do to try and help will only cause further damage, and maybe even end up derailing your own goal. Be there if they show signs of changing, but don’t let a drowning person pull you under deep waters. Throw them a lifeline–that’s it.
Here are some things you can do to find the support you crave:
Join a group!
Find a Facebook group, local organization, or club to join. They’ve been where you are, and you’ll find people who are keen to lift up and support newbies.
Talk about it.
Is it possible that your circle just doesn’t know how much your ambition means to you? Think about it. If you’ve been so embarrassed by your daring goal that you giggle or self-depricate, isn’t it likely that your friends and family think this is just the latest in a string of short-lived trends you’ve tried? I know this is so hard, but it’s up to you to communicate your plans. And you know what? It gets easier to talk about your work if you practice 🙂
Get clear about your motives.
Stop for a minute. Really stop. Are you doing this to impress someone else? If your motivation for achieving your goal is to have an Instagram-perfect life, because that’s what everyone is doing, then you need to re-prioritize. This is too much work for such a small payoff.
But if you’re shooting for the moon because you’ve known–even when you were a little kid–that this is your calling, then you’re on the right track. Find a way to remind yourself of this, every morning. That way, no one’s careless comment can ever hurt you. I mean, what’s a two-star review compared to the satisfaction of finding *and accomplishing* your purpose?! It’s a grain of sand in the ocean.
NOW YOU: Was there a time you felt you were ascending a mountain all by yourself? What helpful resources did you discover, and where did you find encouragement?
Click here to get free access to the writer's resource library!
Want to remember this article?
Click to save it to your favorite Pinterest board!
I love this post, Cole! So much of it applies to ME! I kind of wish I’d kept my goals and ambitions quiet for a while. Now I feel like everyone is tapping their toes, shaking their heads and making that weird tongue-clicking noise, thinking, “When you gonna produce?”
And you are right, we dreamers are different creatures for sure. That’s why we have to stick together.
One more thing, are the goal-setting worksheets mentioned above the same ones you gave me when we brainstormed at North Bend recently? If so, I LOVE them! I’ve filled them out and review them every day. That process really really helps!
It’s hard to know when to share and when to hold your dreams close! On the one hand, it’s great to get accountability, but on the other, it’s just so risky. Tell the wrong person and they might stomp on your brand new hope, crushing it like a spring flower 🙁
These are the goal sheets I emailed you to beta test for me–thank you!!