Have you always wanted to be an actress? Open your own restaurant? Get a Ph.D.? Backpack across the world? Whatever your dream may be, there will always be people who try to kill it. But don’t let them. You need to pursue it anyway. Here are 3 ways other people will try to shoot down your dreams, and 6 things you can do to overcome it and make your dream come true anyway.
Dream Killer #1: People may criticize you for pursuing your dream.
Let’s face it. Most people are very judgmental. They view life in terms of “black and white” or “right vs. wrong” instead of seeing the world in shades of gray. If your point of view is different than theirs, you will probably hear why you are wrong. You will receive criticism. Don’t buy into it, because if you do, it will just break down your dream. When people criticize others, they are coming from a place of fear. They may be thinking, “What if he/she succeeds? Then maybe I will look like a loser in comparison.” But that’s their problem, not yours.
Dream Killer #2: Some people will tease you about your dream.
Teasing is just a different form of criticizing. Sure, it seems like it’s all fun and games. Yes, it may even look like the other person is really supporting you because they will have a smile on their face and say, “Oh I’m just joking! Lighten up!” Masking criticism with teasing is still criticism. It’s just dressed up nice and pretty. So make sure you recognize it when you see it.
Dream Killer #3: Other people may even ignore or avoid talking about your dream. And they may even avoid talking to you altogether.
If pursuing your dream makes others uncomfortable, they may just take the avoidance route. Maybe talking about it just reminds them of how they are not going after their own dreams. Or maybe they are such a pessimist that they simply cannot see how anyone’s dream could ever be realized. But again, remember that this is their problem, not yours.
Here are some things you can do to follow your dreams anyway:
1. Thank them for their opinion.
Instead of getting defensive when people criticize your dream, thank them for their opinion. This will disarm them. People do not expect kind, loving words to be directed back at them when they are purposely trying to tear you down. So when you thank them, say something like, “I appreciate you sharing your opinion with me. It gives me something to think about. However, I am still passionate about pursuing my dream, so I will take your advice into consideration in the future if I need to do so. But for now, I’m going to continue on.”
2. Talk to them about it.
Many people aren’t used to talking through their problems when they have major disagreements. But this is a very valuable way to clear the air. When you begin the conversation, do it non-judgmentally. Say something like, “I get the impression you do not think me pursuing my dream is a good choice. Am I right? I would like to talk to you more about it and explain why I am so passionate about it.” Refrain from becoming defensive and approach the conversation with a “team” mentality instead of a “me vs. you” mentality.
3. Ignore talking about your dream to avoid their negativity.
If talking it out doesn’t work, then you are not obligated to go out of your way to talk about your dream with them. If the topic ever comes up in conversation, you can gently remind them that since they are not supportive, you would rather not talk about it. If you continue to be exposed to their negativity, it can affect you–but only if you allow it to. Simply avoiding the topic might be the best option with some people.
4. Sever ties with them.
If you can’t talk it out or successfully avoid the topic, then you might have to completely stop seeing them. Obviously, this depends on the type of relationship. It is not likely or advisable that you sever ties with your parents or family. However, if it’s a friend or a co-worker, perhaps having their “naysayer attitude” out of your life for good might help you stay focused on your dream.
5. Listen to them.
Sometimes people seem like they are criticizing when in fact they are simply offering some advice based on experience. It is wise to listen. That doesn’t mean that you have to follow what they say, but gathering as much information and opinions as you can is actually a good thing. Being open to advice will allow you to be flexible with your strategies to achieve your dreams. Maybe something they say will help you in the long run.
6. Keep going anyway.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: don’t give up!! It’s way too easy to believe all the negativity and buy into the fact that your dream is unreasonable. Remember, nothing is impossible! If you want it badly enough, you will find a way. Keep your passion, and you will definitely make your dreams come true some day!