Ignoring the Naysayers - Undergrad Success

Ignoring the Naysayers

Ignoring the Naysayers
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Your family’s and friends’ questions seem appropriate enough, but you can’t figure out why they have to bombard you with them. It has gotten to the point that you’re beginning to despise the words “what,” “why,” and “how.” “What makes you think you can be successful in that profession?” they ask with a frown. “Why would you want to start a business when you have a good job?” “How are you going to live off of that amount of money?”

Their statements (repeated so many times you have all of them memorized) are even more irksome. “You’re living in a dream world if you think it’ll be that easy.” “It’s going to take you forever to rise up in that company,” they say. But you dismissed those questions and comments. Well, you had dismissed them until their litany of discouraging words made you start to rethink your plans. After all, your loved ones wouldn’t question career and life choices you feel strongly about unless you were really heading in the wrong direction, right?

Wrong. Only your heart can lead you in the right direction. Other people can push you toward the path you need to take, but at the same time, they can also push you backward onto a road going nowhere if you allow them. You begin taking those backward steps the moment you start questioning your goals and dreams because of someone else’s fear of change, failure, or success. But instead of letting certain people call you naïve and reckless for setting your sights high, you have to call these people out for what they are. These people are naysayers. And naysayers stand in your way of success—however you choose to define it.

Our society is filled with naysayers bent on telling people why they should settle for less than what they desire and deserve. What’s worse is that sometimes it’s our most cherished family and friends who offer us incredulous looks and discouraging words instead of the smiles and good wishes we hope for.

Yet this is not unusual. Most people who consider themselves successful will tell you that they didn’t get all the pats on the back they expected as they strove for that success. They received unconstructive criticism, crazy looks, and a whole heap of whys instead of why nots. And they got this from the people whose opinion mattered the most—their mom, dad, grandparent, sibling, teacher, aunt, uncle, best friend, mentor, and significant other. But they’re where they are today because they had the courage to ignore their naysayers instead of ignoring themselves. That is so very hard to do.

When faced with important decisions, we want to have the support of others. We want to be cheered for and bragged on for taking the initiative to better ourselves. But we have to realize that sometimes those cheers and bragging words just aren’t going to come. More important, we have to realize that a lack of support doesn’t mean we’re making the wrong decision. It simply means we’re making a decision that someone else would not make. That’s okay because we have our own lives to live.

Whether you’re venturing into a super competitive field, opting for one you love but that doesn’t pay that well, or considering starting your own business, don’t let anyone’s doubts stand in the way of your ambitions. Of course, you should listen to those you trust and respect. It’s wise to take heed of all the warnings you are given. But then you have to ask yourself what you want. The question should be what will make you content and proud. Envision the future you can have if you do what is necessary to achieve your career goals. And then, despite what the naysayers say, go after what you have envisioned.


Pointers on Overcoming the Naysayers

  1. Make up your mind: Naysayers cause us so much trouble because we’re still waiting for their approval and blessings. We feel like our decision has to be justified by someone else in order for it to be the right one. We wouldn’t feel this way if we would just make up our minds about what we’re going to do, and then stick to that decision.
  2. Don’t ask naysayers anything: We usually know how someone is going to respond to something. So why do we request advice from people we know will give us a negative response? Don’t ask naysayers how they feel about such and such or what they think and what they would do. You open yourself up to negativity by asking the wrong people for advice.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people: Positive people may tell you that they don’t agree with your decision, but unless they fear you are at risk of self-harm, they will offer you their support anyway. You should gravitate toward and surround yourself with these people. Negative people, however, will shoot down your decisions and continue to criticize you even after they know you’ve made up your mind. If you can’t remove negative people from your life, then at least avoid them while you’re trying to make an important decision.
  4. Ask for support: Ask for the support you’re seeking from the naysayers you truly need support from, such as your parents. Tell them that you’re not seeking their advice or approval; you just want and need their unconditional support.

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Chaz Pitts-Kyser is a writer and speaker with a passion for empowering young professionals and women to achieve personal and career success. She recently published her second book, Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College, a must-have resource for women starting out in their careers. Chaz is also the founder of Careeranista, a company and website created to inspire, support, and educate women.

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