How easily are you discouraged from doing something you want to do? How quickly do you bend to pressure? My nephew, Cameron, recently served as a great reminder that sometimes bucking popular opinion is the right way to go.

Cameron was enrolled as an arts major at a college in New York City. He was enjoying school and seemed to be doing well. One day he announced that he was taking a break from school and would not enroll in classes the next semester. I and other family members were pretty upset to hear this. “When you stop taking classes, you never go back,” I warned. “My friend’s child left school and still hasn’t figured out what to do with the rest of his life,” said another family member. We all had stories of people we knew of who left college and never completed their degrees – and we didn’t want that for Cameron.

Cameron stated his case explaining that he wanted to hone his skills on his own, strengthen his artistic technique and then re-enroll as a stronger, more skilled artist. “You can do that while you take classes!” I insisted. “Stick with it.” “No,” he said. “I think I’ll feel better about my art if I do this, and I’ll be much more competitive with the other students.” I shook my head and promised I would not say, “I told you so,” when the time came.

Fast forward, I recently sat down with Cameron and he showed me two sketchbooks – one from before he left school and another current sketchbook. He has redrawn characters from the earlier book and, as he said he would, he has truly honed his artistic skill on his own. If he had listened to me and other family members, he might still be struggling along, frustrated with his work and feeling as if he was falling behind in school. Instead, he is now proud and confident in his abilities, with renewed passion for his art. He made the right decision.

At work and in our personal lives, too often we let the naysayers get the best of us and discourage us from pursuing a dream, taking action on an idea, or making a choice that may be unpopular. But there are actions we can take to find the resolve and determination we need in the face of resistance.

  • Connect with why it is important to you – what values does it uphold?
  • Find an ally or cheerleader – who can support you?
  • Map out a plan – what steps do you need to take to make it happen?
  • Be willing to take a leap of faith – what have you got to lose?
  • Recognize self-doubt – what self-talk is getting in the way?

Sticking to your guns and doing what you want is easier when you anticipate the arguments against it and commit to moving ahead no matter what.

Where do you need to quiet the naysayers and go for what you want?
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Photo Credit: Cameron Phillips

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