When considering a change of career or lifestyle, we tend to focus on ourselves – after all, it’s our own choices we’re looking at, our own dreams we’re trying to fulfill. But the reality is that the upheaval that comes with a big career change doesn’t just affect us, the individual, but has repercussions for the people around us as well. And the people around us may not be as enthusiastic about our decisions as we are.
At the start of the process, when you’re especially full of doubts and concerns, the last thing you want is to have those fears played back to you from everyone around you. So what can you do when faced with objections from your friends and family?
Recognise that it’s not about you
The first thing to realise is that other people’s concerns are just that: their concerns. The fact that someone else believes you can’t do this, thinks you’ll be ruining your career and worries that you won’t earn enough money is in no way a reflection of your actual capabilities or the fate that awaits you if you leave your job. This is about their comfort zone, their fears of the unknown and their own hesitation to do what you’re about to do.
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You also want to ask yourself who these ‘other people’ are – are the objections coming from close friends and family, or are they coming from acquaintances and colleagues? If the latter, then they really don’t know you well and you don’t need to care about what they think. If the former, then it’s important to recognise that it’s (usually!) coming from a good place: they care about what happens to you because they care about you! So while it might come across as a lack of faith in your abilities and a way of holding you back from going after your dreams, give them the benefit of the doubt and try to understand that they want what’s best for you.
It’s very easy to get excited about your new ideas and plans for massive change, and to want to tell everyone what you’re up to. Don’t! At least, not at the beginning. First, because it will come as a big shock to people if it’s out of the blue like that and, second, because your ideas and plans are likely to change many times before you settle on what you really want to do. If you tell everyone each time you have a new idea, you’ll come across as being wishy-washy and unsure of yourself and that will be invitation for others to make their concerns and objections even louder – as you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.
Instead, take some time to ‘incubate’ your ideas. As we said last week, the first step in this process is exploration so give yourself that time to get out of your usual environment, to learn about yourself and what you enjoy, and even just to take some time off to clear your head. Then once you have a specific goal in mind and you have crystallised the path you’re going to take, you can start sharing your project with carefully chosen people who are important to you. The more clarity and conviction you have that you’re on the right path, the more confidently you’ll be able to defend yourself against other people’s concerns – or, depending on who those ‘other people’ are, ignore them altogether!
Get them onboard
Now, assuming that we’re talking about people who do matter to you – close friends, parents, your partner – then their opinions and support are important. As much as I can tell you to ignore them and remind yourself that they’re well intentioned, hearing those objections over and over again is likely to wear you down over time. If you’re not careful, the fears and concerns of other people will continue to reinforce your own fears and concerns until you eventually abandon your plans and shrink back into your comfort zone.
So once you’ve had that incubation period and developed a bit more clarity on what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, it will be important to get these people on board. Especially if it’s someone who is directly affected by your career and salary – for example, your partner as well as older children – or if they are involved in your plans somehow – for example, you’re going to ask your parents or some friends if you can stay with them while you figure things out – then you’ll want them to support you. They may still have doubts but if you manage to convince them that you’ve thought about this thoroughly and this really is what you want, they will at least keep their objections to themselves and allow you to focus on your plan.
Find your tribe
Even when you succeed in easing the concerns of your friends and family and they let you get on with what you’re doing, the reality is that they are still very much anchored in their own comfort zones. They may not be the right people to guide you, mentor you and empathise with you as you explore this new world of entrepreneurialism, location independence and whatever other ‘unconventional’ lifestyles you’re now considering. So, again, however well-meaning they might be, they can’t necessarily provide you with the tangible support that you need.
This is why I always stress how crucial it is to go out and find new people who can fill that gap. These are people who are out there pushing the limits of their own comfort zones, trying to find a way to make a living, and a life, outside of the confines of the corporate 9 to 5 and doing their best to fulfil their biggest dreams. If you can find these people, find your tribe, then you’ll have a support network that will understand what you’re going through, cheer you on when you’re feeling down and celebrate with you as you experience success. (And, of course, my One Step Outside Facebook group is a great place to start!)
Remember, ultimately, that this is your life and you’re the one who’s going to live with the consequences – either of staying stuck where you are, dreaming of what’s outside, or of taking the risk and making a change. So it’s up to you to make this decision – and that’s both incredibly empowering and a little bit terrifying at the same time!
Come and find your tribe over in the One Step Outside community on Facebook, where you’ll also get access to live training sessions and other resources that will help you get the guidance and support you need to make this escape from the 9 to 5 work, once and for all.