Going after opportunities and experiences that inspire and intrigue you is hard enough, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The last thing you need to hear are the naysayers giving you very good reasons you shouldn’t take that risk. Yet, dream distractors show up and we all need a way of protecting against them.

You know the comments I’m talking about—

“You have two kids, a spouse and a mortgage. You need to focus on what’s most important here.”

“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. This is going to take more time and skills then you have.”

“If you go for it, you won’t have time to enjoy your life anymore.”

“You don’t have the experience, education, certifications, or connections for doing this kind of work.”

“If you really want to do this work, you’ll need to go back to school, get another masters degree and then start at the very bottom of a company like Marriott. Maybe in twenty years you can do this work.”

That last one, I heard six months before accepting an opportunity to do the work I craved… at Marriott. No joke. Turns out, what I needed more than anything was a bit of naivety and a relentless willingness to show up, share, and learn.

That wasn’t always easy, mind you. I made plenty of mistakes, and I still do. I wish I didn’t, but I do. And—it’s worth it. I promise you, it’s worth it.

Had I agreed with that well-meaning man, I doubt I would have spent the past fifteen years helping leaders give candid, compassionate feedback that is proven to provoke potential, across generations.

I doubt I’d even be writing this blog right now. Instead, I’d still be distracted with all the reasons I couldn’t progress toward my inner calling.

While getting rid of the naysayers is nearly impossible, you can guard against them by—

  1. Zoning Out when they talk. Seriously, unless you know they are your cheerleader, zone out. And then, get out—walk away, change the subject, and refuse to talk about your dreams with that person.(Cheerleader, defined: people who enjoy listening to your aspirations and consistently look for ways to help you, opposed to the people you really want to be supportive, but never have been.)
  2. Tuning In when you hear the stories of people who have succeeded, even though the odds were stacked against them. Listen closely when your supporters show up and help you see what you’re doing that works, what doesn’t work and what you might want to try differently. Follow up with the introductions and seemingly small opportunities that show up.

Most of all, keep progressing because no one has every element of what they think they need to succeed. No one gets it right the first time, 100% of the time. Sometimes you get lucky and score on the first try, but more often, you find out what works by experiencing what doesn’t work.

The holidays are the perfect time to listen closely as you begin thinking about the experiences, opportunities, and skills you crave. When you hear one, pause and write it down. (In case you prefer structure when setting goals, grab this free and easy-to-use goal-setting sheet—instructions are at the bottom).

Here are three from my own list:

  • In 2018, I complete my first marathon.
  • In 2018, I am selected to speak for at least one Forbes conference.
  • In 2018, I publish my fifth book—working title: Candid: A Proven Process for Giving Feedback That Provokes Potential.

Unlike me, keep your list private—between you, your higher power and your biggest cheerleader(s).

Once you’ve written it down, begin immediately taking small steps every day toward your goal. For example, now that I have my marketing materials for my new keynote speech, I am submitting myself as a speaker for Forbes and other inspiring conferences… now. Yes, now.

Not January 1, 2018. Now. Why?

Because it’s the tiny little steps taken over and over again that will net you the results you’re ready to achieve. No one needs to know that you’re doing it, and it’s best to get started while your emotions/drive are high.

Give yourself time to think (dream), write it down, and then take the smallest of actions. Of course, share with your biggest cheerleaders along the way, too!

And then…

Refuse to listen to the distractors in your life. Since you’re not even sharing with naysayers, you won’t have to worry about them. But, you will still hear the naysayer inside your head seeking to distract you with chocolate and oh-so-important-text-messages-that-aren’t-really-that-important.

We all have them. Recognize yours, and then keep progressing.

Remember: small, focused actions added up create the kind of results you crave.

In fact, that’s exactly how I went from not knowing how to swim four years ago to swimming five miles in the open water just a few weeks ago. It’s also how I went from fear of fundraising to raising nearly $25K in four years.

Write it down, and then take one small step every day toward your goals. Enough small steps added up and the next thing you know the naysayers will be looking to you as a great inspiration.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

P.S. Have you gotten your free e-copy of Provoking Greatness? It’s my gift to you through the end of 2017. Happy holidays! Simply send me an email at Misti @ MistiBurmeister.com. Subject line: e-copy of Provoking Greatness, please.