I just got back from one of my two-day on-the-road Soul Sessions with a client down in beautiful Palo Alto, California. As a way of relaxing, recharging and unwinding (and before I jump on my flight back home) I always make a point to sit down, grab a bite to eat, reflect on the day and relax with a good book.
I got to thinking about a powerful conversation that came up during our time together. It had to do with one of the primary reasons that prevents people from pursuing their passions or living the extraordinary life they've always wanted; the fear of judgment from other people.
I wrote a blog post on this when I first launched my business, but always find it's a powerful reminder when people are on the brink of making a massive change in their lives.
It started just over a year ago when I announced publicly on my social media channels that I had started my own Lifestyle and Wellness Coaching business. I immediately started to feel panic and anxiety rocket through my body.
Not because I was overwhelmed with the work it would entail or that I was nervous I would fail, but the biggest hinderance that had been preventing me from sharing it publicly was the concern that people would judge me. I thought they'd think it was sheer stupidity that I'd leave a job in the sports marketing world. I thought they might think I was having a quarter life crises, or making up a fake career.
However, I knew that if I had any hopes in making it happen - I'd have to feel through the fear and do it anyways.
So I posted.
Then I sat their quietly, nervously and watched the minutes go by on my phone. After 30 minutes, I thought I would check the status of the post to see if people approved, disapproved or even cared in the slightest. (How silly it is to reflect back on these moments in time, realizing how little people actually care at all).
Pleasantly surprised, I saw a number of new messages in my inbox; congratulating me, expressing their excitement for me and one particularly uplifting message from someone who shared, "If anyone is made for this type of work - it's you!" I felt momentarily uplifted, my shoulders relaxed and I sighed in relief.
And then I noticed one other post... and immediately... I felt uneasy.
I scrolled down to see eight simple letters that completely altered my confidence and state.
8 simple letters that said: “Hahahaha”.
Someone was very publicly laughing at me. At my business. At my ‘big picture’. At my vulnerability. The very thing I was terrified of, when I first decided to share.
Isn’t it wild how much power a complete stranger’s opinion can have over your belief in yourself?
All of my fears that were building up from the previous year around creating a blog, sharing a side of me I often kept private, registering in a life coaching course and publicly announcing what I wanted to do with my future regardless of how terrifying it was (while helping others do the same) finally came to fruition in the form of eight, simple, meaningless letters.
It’s funny when your fears of being laughed at finally happen, you begin to realize it’s actually not that big of a deal.
People move on.
The world keeps spinning.
You live to see another day.
And how silly that I can look back now and recognize that this was what almost held me back from going in the direction that every ounce of my body was telling me to pursue. Further, this was the exact area with which I wanted to help other people. The ones that felt like they were being pulled in a certain direction but fear of failure, self-doubt and most commonly – judgment from others - held them back. A new career, a new business, a new direction in its entirety. I wanted to help anyone and EVERYONE who ever let someone else hold them back from pursuing any massive and exciting risks they wanted to take in their life.
After all, what a damn shame it would be if we spent our whole lives living for the approval of other people.
So, a few key points to ponder this week my dear friends, if you are on the verge of taking big risks or making big changes with that beautiful and incredibly valuable life of yours:
1. There will ALWAYS be people that laugh at your dreams, your vision, your big picture, or something that you feel you were born and meant to do. You can’t control that, or them. What you can do is use them as motivation to prove to them, others and most importantly yourself that you can absolutely create a life that wholeheartedly lights you up. However, there will ALWAYS be people that put you down, criticize you and make you feel small. So you might as well get criticized for doing something you love.
2. We will ALWAYS be naturally inclined to take the easier path, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it. We are wired to choose a safe, secure and comfortable life. But before you decide to forgo a path that you know in your heart you were meant to pursue - I'd like you to picture yourself many years from now when you are at the end of what I hope is a long and healthy life. Can you imagine ever saying to yourself with your last dying breath, “Wow, Sarah.. good work, excellent choice, I am so content that you played it safe all those years ago. I’m happy that you stayed in a life that didn’t bring you fulfillment or excitement, that you didn’t pursue your idea, your ‘big picture’ a new career or your dream business that made you light up and stoked to get out of bed in the morning, because other people laughed at you. If we ever get the chance, let’s do that again”.
No, likely not. As the saying goes, you regret more in life the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. I like to believe that the universe simply throws critics in our path for the sole purpose of asking:
“How badly do you really want this?”
3. Be grateful of your critics, because they are the ones that remind us that we should never have to settle for a life of mediocrity. A life where you are so unsatisfied and unfulfilled in your life, you get pleasure from laughing at others. When we are pursuing our passions and completely and utterly totally blissed out from our own life and existence, our mindset changes dramatically. You no longer compare yourself to others, laugh at others, or are envious of others. You begin to be happy and excited for them instead because you're so excited about your own path, you don’t have space for anything else.
So just a quick little reminder today - is to never forget to do the things you've always wanted to do. Now is the time to begin them. Life's far too short to live by someone else's definition of success.