Setting Goals Without Support

Setting Goals Without Support

It’s that time of year. Many of us set goals for the new year. We dream of where we’d like to be at this time next year, and we start making plans to get there.

Maybe you’re doing that. Maybe you’re dreaming about the new year and setting goals for yourself. If so, that’s great! It’s important to set goals, to have something to work toward. It’s important that we grow. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.”

But what if you’re setting goals and the people around you aren’t supportive? What if your friends and family don’t encourage you – or maybe they even actively discourage you? What can you do?

First, it’s probably a good idea to pause and consider why they don’t support your goal? If they haven’t said why, then ask them.

Maybe your loved ones truly don’t think your goal is what’s best for you. If that’s the case, it’s time to do some serious soul-searching. Is this goal genuinely in your best interest? Is it good for your mind, your body, your emotions, your future, your relationships? Listen to their objections and weigh out whether there’s any truth to what they’re saying. Then decide if your dream is really what’s best for you.

Maybe your friends and family feel judged by your goals. Sometimes people take our choices personally or feel that our choosing a different path is a judgment on them. If your parents didn’t go to college and you really want to, then they might feel like you’re saying they aren’t good enough. If your significant other is working in a trade and you want to pursue a master’s degree, they might think your goal for yourself is a condemnation of their choices. Sometimes people’s lack of support is rooted in their own insecurities.

Or maybe their lack of support is rooted in their fears for you. If you want to drop out of college and become an entrepreneur, your family may be afraid that you’re choosing a hard path or that your business might not work out. So even though it might feel like your loved ones aren’t supporting you, maybe they’re coming from a place of love and concern. Knowing that can help you respond with love and grace.

After you figure out why your family and friends aren’t supportive and you decide to pursue your goals anyway, you can try to talk to them and explain yourself. You might not change their minds, but you’ll have said your piece. Then it’s important to remember that you can’t control other people; you can only control yourself.

If you’re going to pursue a goal without the support of your family, partner, or friends, what might help you?

  1. Use their negativity as motivation. Some people work harder and find more success when they feel like they have something to prove. Channel that into the fuel you need to work hard.
  2. Journal. Write down your goals and what you’re doing each day to reach them. Make note of each bit of progress you make. Choose positivity. Let your own written words be the encouragement you need.
  3. Believe in yourself. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Educators call this a self-fulfilling prophecy. We often reach the goals we believe we can.
  4. Find a supportive community. We’re not saying break all ties with your family and friends, but you can create a new community of support. Find a mentor. Seek out others who are pursuing similar goals, then encourage each other.

It might feel more difficult – and lonelier – to pursue goals without the loving support of your partner, your family, or your friends. But it isn’t impossible. And as you meet goals along the way, who knows? Maybe your people will come around. Maybe your passion and hard work will win them over.

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