When you make a decision to do something new – change careers, launch a new business, or start a new way of eating or working out – you will most likely encounter someone with an opinion. Cue unsolicited advice from someone close to you: a family member might tell you that the idea is too risky, your friend might argue with the premise of your plan, or a partner may express tremendous skepticism. I want to offer you permission not to believe their opinion.
Here’s how I think about it: Let’s say I’m a long-time vegetarian. I’m at a party, and my friends, family, and strangers who don’t know about my eating habits walk around eating their meat hors d’oeuvres. When they offer me something from their plate, I simply say “no thank you.” I am not persuaded by how much they like the appetizer, because I am committed to my vegetarian lifestyle. Even if they tell me how wonderful the meat tastes, or how concerned they are that I am not eating enough protein, I just simply say “no thank you” and move on with my evening.
I don’t need to explain myself, defend my beliefs about vegetarianism or describe my macronutrient intake for the day. I have the right to eat what I want and say no to eating what I don’t want.
It’s the same when people offer opinions about what you are doing.
Step one: is not to get mad at them for having an opinion. Adults are entitled to have an opinion or judgement on anything. They don’t “have” to be supportive of you or agree with your opinion.
Step two: is not to engage with the opinion. Simply notice it and move on. If someone offered up an hors d’ oeuvre with meat and you’re a vegetarian, you wouldn’t spend time debating whether or not you should eat it, or get upset because they offered it to you. The same can be true of someone’s judgement of you or your decisions. Thanks, but no thanks.
Where we get ourselves in trouble is when we get upset with the person for not believing in us and our decision, and start questioning whether it was the right decision in the first place.
Doubt sets in and we use their opinion to halt our forward progress and lose momentum (and end up giving 10x less, as I talked about in last week’s post). Someone else cannot possibly know what is best for us. They can offer advice, opinions, and criticism, but it is up to us to decide what we want to think about ourselves and our choices.
As an entrepreneur three times over, I have faced my fair share of skepticism and judgement from others. I used to let it in and it wreaked havoc on my pursuits. Because when we let in others’ judgements, we use it to judge ourselves even more harshly. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Now I simply notice the judgement and move on. I trust that even if I fall down and make a mistake, I will learn from it and get stronger.
I give myself permission not to believe other people’s opinions. I keep walking down the road I’m on, because nothing slows you down more in business or in life than starting and stopping every time you second-guess your decisions. You are the only one in control of your own life: now go forth and create something epic!
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