There is nothing that can more quickly burst your bubble over a splendid plan you are cooking up than worrying about what everyone else will think. Want to leave your job, the coffee group, the country, the country club? Want to join the navy, the revolution, the circus? Your soul might be screaming hell yes! but the handbrake goes on the instant you consider what other people might think about your choice. Fear of criticism is inertia-inducing. It stops us in our tracks and it can suck the energy and enthusiasm out of a new direction in double time.
Other than considering the people whose lives are directly impacted by your decision - with whom I hope you would talk through your splendid plan with courage and compassion - here are four good reasons to dial down that fear of what everyone is thinking about you.
1 It's none of your business what other people think about your new course of action. Totally none of YOUR business. What they think is property of them. It's a thought (or your assumption of what their thought might be) and it lives in their head. Not yours. Therefore not your business.
You cannot control what goes on in other people's minds so let other people own their own thoughts and take your focus somewhere more productive.
2Most of the time we are making assumptions about what they might think. Which may or may not be true. Your assumption of "What on earth are you thinking? Big mistake!" could be a "Go girl!" if you actually asked the question. Don't spend time worrying about an assumption. You really have better things to do. Like working on your splendid plan!
3Pretty much no one did anything of serious significance that was not criticised first. Man was never going to walk on the moon. Decca said The Beatles were crap. JK Rowling's Harry Potter was rejected by over a dozen publishers before Bloomsbury signed her.
Being criticised is often part of the journey to success. Can you be brave and embrace that uncomfortable facet of the ride?
4They are pretty much not thinking about you that much anyway. People are thinking about you and your life choices about 90 per cent less than you think they are. They are totally tied up in their own stuff, in their own heads. Probably worrying about you judging their life choices! That "dance as if no one's watching" line is on the money, because most of the time no one really is. The majority of other people's mental space is occupied by wondering if they are hitting the beat themselves. So don't sweat it.
The key is to not let the fear of criticism pull you off your course. Expend your mental energy where it can be of the most benefit. Hold fast and execute your splendid plan with enthusiasm, tenacity and passion. Own your choice. People take their lead from you. So talk about your choice with clarity and conviction. Lead the way, and they will follow. Be bold. Have faith. Back yourself. Leap.