1) Safeguard your goals from them
Imagine you’re trying to create a beautiful, grand sandcastle at the beach. Now, imagine someone pouring water on top of your castle every 1 minute. Will you be able to build anything in the end?
No of course not. Each time you get anywhere, your creation gets demolished instantly. At most you’ll end up with some clumpy looking lump and a very frustrated you. All the efforts you’ve put in have gone to waste.
That’s the same thing when you listen to the naysayers. Being discouraging and skeptical in nature, they tend to talk about the downsides and horror stories of the “dangers” surrounding what you plan to do. Every second you spend listening to what they have to say about your goals is just like pouring acid over your dreams. In the end you have to spend extra time and effort to combat the damage they’ve done. It’s not even worth it in my opinion.
Your goals are too precious to let other people taint them. Protect them. Don’t give naysayers the opportunity to damage your dreams by not even raising the topic in the first place. I’m actually very selective about who I share my goals with. I rarely talk about them unless people ask, and even then I share selected parts as relevant to the conversation.
2) Eject the naysayer from your life (if you can)
If possible, eject the naysayer from your life. Generally naysayers serve as a shroud over life’s possibilities, so spending too much time with them is only going to limit your own potential.
3) Evaluate the naysayer’s background
One thing I look at before I consider anyone’s words is how the person is doing in his/her own life. Is this person’s life the kind of life I want to have for myself? Does this person have knowledge and expertise in what he/she is commenting on?
If the answer is no, then I’ll discount what he/she says. After all, this person is where he/she is precisely because of his/her own knowledge and advice. By following his/her words, it can only get me to where he/she is, not where I want to go.
This means that if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthily and your overweight colleagues are telling you to ditch the healthy salads and eat junk food for lunch/dinner, maybe you should reconsider. If you want to set up a business and you’re getting “advice” from friends who have never set up any businesses in their life, maybe you should put less weight in what they’re saying. If you want to quit smoking but your peers, with their daily coughs and bad breaths, keep telling you to take one more puff, it might be wiser to ignore them.
4) Ignore them – Tune out
If you’ve evaluated the naysayer’s words and concluded that these are not relevant to your goals, then simply tune out. Just because they say something, doesn’t mean you have to take what they say. As Buddha has said before, if someone offers you a gift and you decline it, the gift is still that person’s. Likewise, if someone wants to offer you their 2 cents, you can’t stop them from doing that, but you can choose not to accept it.
5) Don’t engage in the discussion
The naysayers are as staunch in their stance as you are in yours, and there’s no need to seek any agreement too.
In your replies, keep it simple and short – with “I see” or “Okay”.
Don’t assert your stand, don’t try to probe why he/she said what he/she said, don’t try to explain yourself either. The naysayer can come up with all sorts of reasons why he/she is right and why you’re wrong, which is just a waste of time.
Switch topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there. Also remember tip #1 – make a mental note to safeguard your goals from them in the future.
6) Surround yourself with enablers
Rather than face negativity, surround yourself with positivity instead. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so choose the best 5 people you want to spend time around. In Day 19 of 30DLBL: Create Your Success Network, we work on building our success network of 5, which are the 5 people whom we want to emulate in real life.
Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your goals if you told them. Think about how you can increase the time you spend with them starting from today.
If you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. Think of the people out there in this world who are doing what you want to do, then increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on. Back when I was still in my corporate job, I knew absolutely no one in real life who was in the same situation as me. I didn’t know anyone who had branched off to pursue his/her passion either. There was no reference point for me in my list of contacts. After I quit my job, I immediately surrounded myself with the best-selling self-help books, connected with other personal development bloggers online and read related blogs that would help me in my journey. Doing this made me feel like I had a whole network of people supporting me in my goals.
Remember you’re not alone in your goals – there’s Personal Excellence which you’re reading now, and over 350 articles in the archives. There’s also Personal Excellence Forums, where many amazing people hang out there. The forums has been the birthplace of many positive habits and improved lives since it was launched last year.
7) Think back to your vision for yourself
Last but not least, think about your ideal vision. What is your ideal vision for your life?
Whenever you get distracted by naysayers, it’s only because you’ve taken your eyes off your goals. If that’s the case, all you need to do is to look back at them. Recall what exactly you want to achieve. Think about what exactly you want to get out of your life. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it to put them on hold because of a couple of naysayers. The answer is always a clear ‘no’ to me.
Don’t deny yourself of the life you should live just because of these people. At the same time, make sure you’re not being a naysayer to others.