Raise your hand if this has happened to you:
You want to try something new and exciting (and maybe a little scary or unconventional), you don’t really know all the logistics, and when you share your idea with your well-meaning friend/family member, they talk you out of it by listing all the steps it will take to get there and all the ways that it could go wrong. Oh, and it’s probably way too risky and the cost will outweigh the benefit.
This? Is what I call the Keeping It Real conversation.
Way back when I was just under a year into my business, it occurred to me that it was time to step out from behind the safety of my computer screen and get my art and products in front of real, live people. So I decided that I would join a few local craft fairs and get involved in the local art community.
I shared my ideas with a good friend. She was not involved in the art community. She did not own a business. When I told her my plan to get more involved and get my work in front of strangers, she proceeded to have the Keeping It Real conversation with me.
She basically told me that it wasn’t worth it, and that I shouldn’t get my hopes up that this would be a viable source of income or grow my business that much. I think she meant well, but...
Luckily, I’d already made up my mind to do it. And it was such a powerful business decision that opened so many doors for me and allowed me to take it to the next level.
I’ve had a lot of well-meaning people since then have the Keeping It Real conversation with me. I’ve had people tell me that my business is a hobby. I’ve had people tell me not to turn my hobby into a business. I’ve had people tell me that I should just find another architecture job. I‘ve had people ask leading questions, trying to get to the bottom of what I do exactly. I’ve had people tell me to not get too cocky when I said I felt like I was figuring this business stuff out.
I’ve heard it all.
The fact is, I don’t want to keep it real. I want to do things that I've never done before.
I see this happening a lot, though. Well-meaning people giving advice from a place fear. They have a hard time imagining why someone would drop everything that makes practical sense in their lives to pursue something that may be financially risky or compromise their reputation. Most of the time, their advice is an attempt to protect you--someone they care about--from being hurt or disappointed.
Wait! Don’t start yet until you have every single detail in place.
Wait!! What if you’re WRONG?! Better off just not doing it at all.
Wait!!! What if you don’t make any money?! It’s not worth it.
Fears of doing it wrong, being underprepared, or not making enough money are NOT good enough reasons to stop taking steps toward your dreams.
You’ll make mistakes. And you’ll live, and grow, and even prosper because of them.
It’s a great idea to have a little planning in pace, as long as you're not obsessing over the details to the point that you're not doing anything with your ideas. You could spend days, months, years perfecting your pitch and researching, but you won’t start making progress until you start taking action.
So, what do you do when the well-meaning people in your life try to keep it real with you? Here's what I suggest:
1. Tell them why it's important to you to do these things.
You don't need permission to pursue your dreams. But you can be open with people about what motivates you to take these risks and what you see as the outcome if you pursue your dreams freely.
2. Consider the source.
If you are facing the Keeping It Real conversation from a friend or family member, chances are that they want to protect you from being hurt or disappointed. You can appreciate their concern while continuing to do what is most important to you.
If this comes from someone you don't respect, or if you feel that their intent is malicious, ignore the conversation completely. Also, stop hanging out with them or discussing your ideas with them. Surround yourself with those who have your best interest in mind.
3. Share your wins, openly.
The more you can share all the good that is happening, the more people will relax and stop trying to tell you what to do. This is also a great way to build a community of support around what you want to do, and may lead to less fear-driven feedback. Let people get excited with you.
4. Stand firm.
You are the one person responsible for the course your life takes. There may be people that try to direct your every move, but you will have to set boundaries with them. Make it clear that you hear what they have to say, but the decision is ultimately yours.
5. Look inward for approval.
You don't need approval from others to do what you love. In fact, looking outward for approval is a fruitless effort (trust me, I've had lots of practice). You have to be okay with what you do, whether or not everyone else is. People may or may not come around and all that matters is how you feel when you lay your head down on the pillow at night.
And the next time someone tries to keep it real with you, take heart in the fact that you are doing something amazing! You are doing something meaningful! And you might even inspire someone else to keep it less real along the way.
. . .
Has someone tried to Keep It Real with you about your business dreams? Tell us about it in the comments. How did you handle it?
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p.s. Are you on Periscope? I've been using the app a lot lately to share my thoughts on doing what you love and a little behind the scenes process of some of my work. Follow me there @caseydsibley!