1. Knowing the path and walking the path are two very different things.
The next time someone beats you down with unsolicited criticism, ask yourself whether that person simply believes they know the path you’re walking, or walks that path themselves. Most of the time, the people that are dumping on your dreams fall into the first category. They may believe they know what they’re talking about—thanks to the internet, everyone is an expert—but chances are, they know very little from an experiential standpoint.
So, the next time someone decides it’s their place to rain on your parade with a one-sided conversation about all of the barriers you’ll never be able to overcome, reflect on how much of an expert that person really is. If you find yourself face-to-face with someone who’s actually been in your position, congratulations; you may have found yourself a mentor! If you’re face-to-face with an armchair expert, brush them off.
It’s easier for others to bash your dreams than it is for them to work toward their own. Don’t listen to people that no longer thrive off of improvement and change.
2. Surround yourself with people that light a fire under your ass.
Take a minute to think about your friends and family. It’s likely that that group is made up of two different types of people:
Type 1: The person that you sit down with on Friday nights and always expect the same story from. They’ll talk about their 9 to 5 and how much they hate (or possibly love) it. They’ll tell you about their significant other, their family, their plans for Saturday night, and how much they’re dreading the next work week. There isn’t a whole lot of variety in their lives, but things are still pretty decent. You enjoy spending time with this type of person, but never find yourself overly excited about life after speaking to them.
Type 2: The person that you sit down with on Friday nights and always expect exciting updates from. This person is always striving for growth and investing his or her time in interesting projects. There’s always something new going on in this person’s life, and spending time with them makes you feel like you can (and should) do something exciting and significant with your time.
The first type of person will always have an important role in your life. They’re your friend for a reason, after all. He or she will always keep you grounded.
Meanwhile, the second type of person will be there to light a fire under your ass. He or she will keep you moving and growing. This type of person will not only support your goals, but will keep you excited about achieving them. Surround yourself with as many of these people as you can. You need them.
3. Always maintain committed ambition rather than naïve ambition.
Realize that if you really, truly want something, it will not just fall into your lap. Words mean very little. You have to work to make things happen. Ambition is an important thing to have, but you need to commit yourself to mapping out and executing your plans in order to make changes. Don’t be the type of person that ignores the process and expects to fudge your way through and achieve results.
Successful people take the time to learn the skills necessary to reach their goals. Realize that you’ll probably start by taking baby steps rather than giant leaps toward success, but as long as you’re working, you can feel confident while you brush aside the negativity and snide remarks of the dream demons.
4. Take time to consider what your life would be like if you’d listened to every person that’s ever rained on your parade.
What if you hadn’t bitten your tongue and pushed past the people that told you that you weren’t capable of achieving things in the past? How brutal would your life be today? Use your past experiences to fuel your ambition. Realize how much it would suck to fall into complacency, to give up on your dreams and work for someone else’s instead.
Kudos to all of the people that are brave enough to do their own thing. It takes discipline to brush aside negativity and stay focused on your goals.
Stay excited, surround yourself with people that fuel your excitement, and never become the cynic who’s heard “you can’t” so many times that they start to believe it.