Have you ever told someone about a big goal or dream of yours, only for them to turn around and say, “That’s crazy!”, “That’ll never work!” or “Yeah right, let’s wait and see.”
Getting laughed at, criticised or told to “be more realistic” hurts - we all crave acceptance and validation from other people, to be reassured that what we’re doing is the “right” decision and that we can succeed.
It’s a feeling I’m very familiar with. From when I ran my first 100m on my artificial leg to my next challenge at the Norseman, many people have doubted whether I could achieve anything an able-bodied athlete can do.
When you’re surrounded by doubters and haters, it’s hard to stay positive and motivated towards your goals.
But after years of doing what people say I can’t do, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about what it really takes to stay on track to your dreams.
1. Don’t tell everybody about your goals
There are many reasons why people will try to discourage you from pursuing your goals, and none of them have anything to do with you.
Fear and insecurity are big ones. Some people think they know what’s best for you and will throw doubt on your dreams based on what they fear themselves.
Others might see you as a threat to their own sense of achievement and self-esteem, and project their insecurities onto you. Have you ever noticed how so many successful entrepreneurs and famous celebrities mention being bullied at school?
Insecure people don’t want to imagine what it would be like if you did succeed: all they see is someone that’s doing better than them.
The key here is to share your goals only with the few that you trust: an inner circle that will be there to lend you a helping hand and encouragement when you need it.
On the flip side, another good reason why you shouldn’t tell everyone about your goals is that it could actually reduce the likelihood that you’ll work to achieve them.
Sure, it feels great to share your grand plans with a bunch of friends and bask in their praise. But this premature “celebration” of your goal can start to feel like you’ve already done all the hard work and cause you to slack off!
2. Become your own biggest cheerleader
You can’t rely on others to motivate you all the time, and why should you expect them to? After all, this is your dream – it makes no real difference to them if you reach it or not.
From building better habits to positive self-talk, motivating yourself to get ahead in life and pursue bigger and better goals starts from within.
Think of other people’s acknowledgement and admiration as an extra reward for your hard work. It’s nice to have, but it can’t be your main source of fuel for the entire journey you need to take.
3. Remember your “why”
There are times when you may even doubt yourself. Are you throwing away a good job or risking your reputation in order to do this thing? On the off chance that you achieve this goal, will it still be worth it in the long run?
To stay committed to a goal, I always remember why I set out to do it all in the first place.
If your “why” is important and convincing enough to you, it will trump every word of discouragement and setback that gets thrown your way.
No matter how long the road becomes between now and the day you finally achieve your goal, your “why” will become your most enduring source of motivation. At the end of the day, you don’t need other people’s approval to go out and get what you want from life.
Until you choose to take action, you won’t be able to prove how wrong all the doubters and haters were about you – so don’t waste another second debating whether you can or can’t until you do!