Are you a dream dodger?
Let’s be honest.
It’s a huge challenge to keep the fire of desire going when we have a meaningful dream. To give ourselves the permission we need to recognize, validate and answer a calling. It means challenging behavior and familiarity we’ve grown accustomed to. Though a way forward and the outcome may be uncertain, learning how to be true to your calling will light up your life.
We know full well how to get in our way. Fear and doubt wrestle and create resistance when we get the first inkling to make change where it matters.
As if that’s not enough to keep us from moving in the direction of our dream, there is an abundance of distractions, de-railers, feedback from others. Bidden and unbidden. When we bring it on, unquestioned, even well-meaning feedback has the power to dunk our deepest desire in the dustbin.
So, what can we do about that?
This is what I’m going to address here – how to stay devoted to your dream in the face of feedback from others. It applies whether feedback takes the form of praise or criticism.
When it comes to your Very Important Dream, you can learn to recognize what’s happening. You can choose what parts to take on and which to discard on the basis of what feels true to you.
Here are scenarios from two coaching clients who are struggling to get beyond external feedback on their dream:
Suzanna makes a long distance move. Before she goes, does the work to clarify her desire. It is to transfer well-honed, highly specialized skills and long tenure in one field to a related one that has a greater sense of urgency and purpose. A friend she trusts tells her, “You will need to take any job to get your foot in the door. First get yourself established, put in a year or two, then go after what you really want.”
Ryan has headed a company for 30 years. He is exhausted by what it takes to keep it going. Wants to pursue something else though what it is eludes him. A trusted colleague tells him, “This is who you are. What you know. What you’re good at. Just keep doing it. You can always go work for someone else.”
Perhaps one of these remarks rings familiar.
Perhaps, too, have you confided in someone a dream to grow, only to have them throw a bucket of icy water on it.
It’s tempting to shut down a dream on the basis on what someone else says.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In coaching, we get curious. examine the scenario together from various perspectives, get into action from there. Feedback can be well-intentioned AND not necessarily hold true for us. We get to choose whether it holds true, in this moment forward, for us.
How to do that?
Start by recognizing that the other person speaks from their experience and understanding of their experience. In other words, feedback tells us more about the other person than it does about us.
In the first scenario of the expat, she notes that her friend tends to avoid taking risks that initiate change. Not so with my client. She has demonstrated quite the appetite and capacity for adventure. Despite that she has not flexed these muscles in recent years, she is wired in this way, with an inner drive to tolerate risk and make a meaningful contribution in the world of work.
In the second scenario of the business owner, he notes his friend did the same job throughout his career until retirement. But my client is curious and creative.
Though these strengths were underutilized, he still has ideas, varied interests, a large network and focus for things he enjoys. What his friend says tells us more about the friend than it does about what is possible for my client.
In both scenarios, another person’s viewpoint triggers the fear of not being able to achieve, what, for them, has deep meaning.
The inner critic dances with delight. To cease effort means to be spared looking foolish. If it won’t work out anyway, why bother?
In the past, both clients have left it there, on the doorstep of desire. Footsteps come and go, they watched other people achieving. They cover up their own traces of desire until no longer vibrant or accessible. Fortunately, those days are over.
Your dream demands an intentional, activated response now.
How to remember the seed that got you energized in the first place? I’ve chosen a couple of tips to help you stay on track and keep going in the direction of your dream.
Regardless of what others say.
Ask yourself a key question to keep you on track. One question I ask myself is, what impact do I want to make here? I encourage my coaching clients to keep visible a burning question that has meaning for them. When we remain curious about what drives us, others voices are less likely to drown out our own. We get to choose what to amplify or where to turn down the volume.
Create a sense of urgency. Sometimes a sense of urgency is baked into a situation. Other times we must create it. By when will you contribute or do you want to feel a certain way?
By when will you start to create a legacy to be remembered? By when will you see yourself in a healthier environment than you’re in?
The shocking truth about tending to your dreams is that you have what it takes right now.
You don’t need to be someone else in order to rise above the feedback from others. You get to listen, pause, then decide what is true for you. It will allow you to stay focused on your dream.
The first client is in interviews with potential to work in a stimulating field of interest. It is scary and it is energizing.
The second client left his 30-year occupation for good. He’s embarked on taking what he knows and leading in a new way. His work includes a side hustle that increases his brand visibility and impact. The feeling and accomplishment he’s dreamed about for so long.
Does your acting on your dream matter deeply to you too?
Of course, it does.
Will you tend to your needs first and run others’ feedback (praise and criticism) through the filter we just discussed?
Set the intention to stay devoted to your dream.
Promise to never ditch your dream out of fear or the say-so of others again.
That’s what makes for work and life that feels aligned and true.
Do you have a dream that tugs at you? Tell us what works, and what doesn’t, as you take steps to allow it to come true.