I’ve have had a family emergency (perhaps two) this past month and I’ve had to put some projects on that metaphorical back burner.
As you know, when life happens certain parts of our lives can slow down or even be put on pause temporarily but it’s always important to keep moving forward even if we just think about what our next step will be and then the first chance we get, take some action.
I wanted to take a few minutes and share something that happens to me a lot. I’m sure you can relate. Maybe you can add something that I’ve missed?
As you know, anything you do starts to become public knowledge to the people around you. You come across strangers that want to give you their input on your goals and your life but it can be a bit much sometimes. Everyone has an opinion and some can come across quite strong but is it really something that I should take seriously?
I used to get all kinds of parenting advice from strangers in the grocery store when my daughter was a toddler. She was pretty tiny and complete strangers would tell me that I should feed her more often! I had all kinds of input on ways to “fatten up that baby”. Please. Take care of your own life and I refuse to justify myself.
Ever since I adopted the lifestyle of becoming a business owner, the most random people would call me or even email me articles and advice that I really should follow. It was always accompanied by a remark that stated “if you try this you might actually make this work” and “good luck I hope you can make this happen for once”. Um, excuse me? Do you have any clue how much business I bring in? I may not be a millionaire but I do have great results because of my troubleshooting abilities and my creative network of people. I see a steady increase enough to know that I am doing something right.
I am very open to ideas but when business is going so well that I have enough work to keep two people busy full time, I’m a bit put off by their assumption that I have a limp idea that never worked. I dislike it when people that talk down to me. I always wrote a very nice reply graciously thanking my caring friend for his (or her) time and assured them that I am so busy I will have to make time to see if I can work that strategy onto my dance card. I may have exaggerated a time or two, but this was years ago and I wasn’t nearly as mature as I am now!
I don’t know why I felt the need to justify myself, but I was pretty much offended. Ironically, each and every time the advice was from individuals that never once made an effort to do much of anything except sit around and complain. Now, it doesn’t effect me. I like to learn from my mistakes as well. Yes, it is possible to make mistakes even with people telling me what to do!
Have you ever had someone pick apart your efforts and tell you that you’re going about things all wrong? Of course you have. Same here! The more projects I take on the more people seek me out to tell me that I should do things his way or her way or that I’m just plain wasting my time. One thing my childhood taught me was to have a very thick skin so to speak and I can handle criticism and put downs really well without it effecting me for the most part, but you might be quite a bit more sensitive and pushy people might stop you in your tracks and terrified to try anything new.
What happens to your overall mood after hearing unsolicited advice? Do you feel energized and willing to try new things, or have you gotten so frustrated from being tugged in so many different directions?! I used to take notice of what anyone told me thinking that I was being open to new ideas when in reality I was trying to please everyone and even though I was doing what was being suggested no one was ever happy with me results. I learned the hard way.
Here are a few things for you and I to keep in mind the next time someone is trying to give you his or her two cents.
Does he or she have my best interests in mind or is he (or she) just being critical? And needlessly bossy?!
If someone has your success in mind, it may be a good idea to read the next few suggestions and see if the advice can be something adapted to your process. Don’t get me wrong, it can be really good to get input from another point of view but don’t automatically take it seriously when someone says “you’re doing it wrong” or “do it this way”. If you don’t know this person and you are getting the feeling that they just want to give an opinion, thank them and don’t take it too seriously. But make a mental note that you might be able to learn something from their experience even if you learn how to approach people when YOU want to give your input. And for heavens sake if you are getting the results you want don’t change! If it ain’t broke…you know the rest.
Has this person taken action towards success in his life/ her life?
From time to time I hear advice from people that don’t quite take initiative to make their own dreams a reality. It’s never the right time, the right mood and it just isn’t going to work right now for them. Since it’s not up to me, I let them be. I don’t have time to motivate everyone but you and I must consider the source of where this information is coming from. Even if the advice comes quoted from an Anthony Robbins book it doesn’t mean that you need to take heed and change your direction especially if the person making their lips move never take initiative on their own. If you’re talking to someone that hasn’t taken steps toward success, don’t take it too seriously. Look at their fruits of their labor and ask yourself if you want the same results.
Don’t let it destroy your energy. Stay on track with this strategy…
There have been times that a flippant comment about my goals has ended the day with my shoulders slumped and my goal list in the trash. Not to mention some hardcore pouting and tears that spilled out and onto my frowny cheeks. All because one person thought I was headed in the wrong direction and cut my dreams apart. If I listened to every piece of advice, I would still be a confused mess and my other half would avoid me as if I had influenza.
So try this…pick 1, 2 or even 3 people in your life that are taking active steps to their goals. These are people that you notice trying new things and adapting their strategies when they need to. Staying strong, positive and active even if it’s just little steps at a time. People that speak encouragement but the truth. These are the ones you want to take notice of if you are given advice. You can also run ideas by them to see if these are really things that you want to consider or if you need to write it off as needless input.
Sorry, I’m definitely not against advice but you do have to think about who you listen to and who you smile politely and just thank for their comments. If you wear your heart on your sleeve and try to please everyone your dreams are no longer yours but it’s a tangled ball of yarn that you alone are left to unravel after everyone has gone.
Does he or she understand where I am coming from?
If I can’t walk in your shoes, I will never truly know how you feel. I am really good at empathizing but I still don’t know exactly what you’re going through. I will cry with you and laugh with you and even listen to your life story if that will make you feel better.
When one of my friends or people in my family are having a rough time I always (and I mean ALWAYS) hear, “What should I do, Dionne? I need your help.” Most times I don’t give advice that is wanted. Usually the expectation is that I will just take care of the problem and be the hero, but I don’t work that way. I might ask you questions to help you figure out the way you want to go, and by talking to you I let YOU decide what your plan of action could be and it’s up to you to make it happen. I am not your maid.
When I’m asked a question, I give an answer. Oddly, my answer is usually met with a justification or the real funny thing is when I’m asked for advice and then completely disregarded. My only wish is that my advice or time in conversation will get you to think of the direction you want to go and help you think of ways that you want to get there. Don’t just do what I say! THINK, DAMMIT! I don’t hand out solutions I teach you how to find your own. And we can talk about it and learn together. So it’s kind of like art. Don’t always take it for what it looks like at first sight. Use what’s between your ears and don’t waste it.
Who was the last person that freely gave you input on your life direction? Think about the following questions while you think about that interaction:
- Did he/ she have my best interests in mind?
- Does he/she show positive signs in his/ her life?
- Is he/ she someone that I trust to give me advice that is worth my time?
- Should I take notice and adapt my goals to his/ her suggestion?