This article was originally published on Noomii.com on October 8th, 2013.
When you’re venturing onto a new career path it can be hard enough to keep your own fears and worries in check.
And then you have a conversation with a loved one that goes something like this.
“I’m thinking about becoming a musician,” you say, your heart on your sleeve.
“That’s stupid,” your beloved replies.
The wind goes right out of your sails. You’re moored.
To get yourself going again (or to avoid this situation in the first place), you want to cultivate your support systems, an often overlooked strategy for goal achievement.
In a study aimed at measuring the impact of recruiting your friends to achieve goals, individuals who participated in a weight loss program with the help of their social support were 175% more likely to have lost weight and kept it off 6 months later than those who had no social support.
So where do you want to be in 6 months? Struggling to fiercely and independently go it alone? Or, succeeding with a team of people cheering you on?
If you would prefer to have the social support, this article is for you.
Over the past four years, I have helped numerous trail blazers, and here are some of the strategies that have worked for them to stave off the naysayers and build support for their unconventional career choices.
1. Share Selectively
In the early stages of a new career idea you want to be extra judicious about who you share your dreams with.
Do you know someone who is generally positive, optimistic, and supportive? Someone who lives in the world of possibilities and gets excited by new ideas? That’s an encourager. And they are the people you want to be discussing your plans with when your ideas are new and tender. An encourager’s presence alone has the potential to fan your tiny spark of an idea into a strong, steady flame.
Note that encouragers are often found outside of your immediate family. After all, the people who are closest to you are the ones who will be the most affected by your potential career change. They may therefore be more resistant to your idea, simply because we all have a tendency to resist change.
Also, be particularly careful of sharing your ideas with people who both have a discouraging tendency and hold a big place in your psyche (like parents or revered professors). Nothing will stop you short faster than their disapproval.
2. Let Go of Convincing Everyone to Get On Board with Your Plans
People often wait for permission from authority figures before going after their dream careers. Or they only want to do it if they know that their loved ones will be 100% supportive.
If someone in your life isn’t behind your new career idea, they probably aren’t going to change their mind anytime soon.
Avoid wasting your breath trying to convince them that your idea is fantastic, and don’t make your choice to go after your dream conditional on someone else’s approval. Doing this puts you in a powerless position and prevents you from actually trying your idea out in the real world.
Instead, try to accept that this is how your loved one feels at the moment, and put your energy toward building your support network through other, more viable avenues.
3. Work With A Coach
Good career coaches are not only supportive and encouraging, but they also have a multitude of frameworks and techniques to help you stay on track with your career goals.
A casual acquaintance who provides encouragement can make a difference, but a structured coaching relationship can really take your career development efforts to the next level.
Since a coach is an objective third party they will not have the same type of agenda or preconceived notion of you that a close relation might have.
Make sure to find a coach who you respect, trust, and feel comfortable with. And don’t hesitate to look around for a coach who will be an excellent fit for your specific situation.
4. Seek Out Groups of People Like You
While your career path may be unconventional to most, there are undoubtedly other people who are already gainfully employed in your chosen field. There are also people who are aspiring to make it, just like you.
By finding groups of people in your chosen industry you will expand your network, learn useful information, and increase your sense of social acceptance for your desired field.
When you join an organization be especially diligent about connecting with groups and group members who are successful. They will have the most to offer you and will help lift you up.
5. Surround Yourself With Inspiration
One final technique for adding another layer of support for yourself is to increase your connection to people whom you admire, but are unlikely to ever meet. These will be people (alive or deceased) whose lives and messages inspire you to be your best.
Create a collage of their faces and your favorite quotes. Look at it often, and use their wisdom and encouragement to your advantage.
Getting any career off the ground takes courage, patience, and persistence. It also takes people to encourage you when you’re feeling down, connect you to helpful resources, and inspire you to strive for more.
Help your chances of success by taking one step to consciously build your support network today.