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People always have something to say – go ‘head on, brush your shoulders off and keep stepping!

People ALWAYS have opinions - our perfectly imperfect brothers and sisters on the planet have their own thought processes and their own frames of reference. What they see as "ordinary" may well be extraordinary to you - or vice versa.

If you put too much stock in other's opinions, paying too much attention to the voices all around you instead of to your own voice, you can get distracted and lose your way. I've got some tips and some action steps to help you "brush your shoulders off" and keep on climbing toward a new, more accomplished phase of your life.

Tip #1: Spend time with Positive People

Leave the Negative Nancys and Normans off on the side of the road and you keep on stepping toward your goals. Listening to negative people who don't KNOW how to succeed and just want to make sure you don't pass THEM by will eventually depress your spirit and kill your drive.

You have a choice as to where you spend your time - make an intentional decision to spend more time with positive people. Hang around the folks who are putting their finite time on this earth into positive pursuits, not the ones bemoaning their circumstances and talking themselves OUT of trying anything new or extending themselves.

Tip #2: Show the naysayers how WRONG they are

Human beings are funny - in a strange way, not a humorous way. They have opinions about you and your efforts because they don't honestly believe you're capable of reaching your goals - after all, they haven't reached THEIR goals, and they don't even have a good plan on how to start!

You don't have to justify or even discuss your goals and your journey with people like that. There are people out there who will cheer you on even if they don't understand your goals or know how you're going to ultimately succeed. They'll cheer for you because you're following a dream, you're putting in the work, and you've got a whole heap of "Don't Give Up" in your heart and soul.

When your consistent, steady positive action begins to bear fruit, just smile to yourself and keep on steppin!

Tip #3: Be your own Best Friend, not your Worst Enemy

When you describe your efforts and your journey, do you sound like a critic or a cheerleader?

If you downplay your abilities and accomplishments, you're giving permission for others to do the same. Build your sense of confidence in yourself - for instance, celebrate your wins (small and large) in your daily journal entries. Write about what inspires you, what makes you want to MOVE, and what you're doing to get closer to your goals. Write about what makes you want to shout about your accomplishments from the rooftops.

What good things are you accomplishing on your journey through life? Can't think of any? Put a plan in place to create reasons for you to cheer yourself on. Did you make someone else smile today? Ya Hoo!

Deepen your self-confidence, and even when the naysayers come around, their negativity will roll off your back like water off a duck!

Tip #4: Reflect on, but don't be stopped by, other's opinions

Give this a try: if you're hearing about multiple people's opinions about you that all say the same thing, give it about 5 or 10 minutes of consideration. Could THAT many people really be seeing you inaccurately?

The answer may still be yes, but by taking a few minutes to analyze what's being said - over and over - you might just see what's causing this group of opinions. You may find that something truly IS a problem that you hadn't considered.

No one is perfect - absolutely no one, and perhaps you DID do something ill-advised or outside of your character. Even if you didn't see it, perhaps others did. Try to reflect on what's being said, and if there's a kernel of truth in it, hold yourself accountable. 

If a change needs to be made, YOU are the one to do it. You don't have to announce it, just get to work and make it happen. Those who were watching you closely enough to see (and talk about) what you were doing will also see the changes you've made - if they have eyes to see.

Another approach is to take what others are saying about you and consider it none of your business. When you do the double-check and decide that you're not hurting anyone or throwing up roadblocks for anyone, you can move on with your life, chase your dreams, and not be concerned about what others believe.

Tip #5: Don't try to please everyone - it's a recipe for failure and disaster

You can't please ALL the people ALL the time. No matter how hard you try, no matter how great your accomplishment is, someone will be unhappy, and they'll complain - often loudly! 

There are some people who will complain, no matter what - you can't ever please them, so why put your precious time and energy into trying? Even when you DO try - when you go above and beyond and put your own dreams aside to do what they WANT you to do, they'll still never be happy. They'll continue to complain and never give you an ounce of positive reinforcement.

Don't waste your time. If their criticisms aren't constructive - pointing out pitfalls for you to avoid or giving you good advice on how to avoid missteps - go 'head on, brush your shoulders off and keep on stepping toward your dreams.

Tip #6: Learn from your mistakes, and don't fear them

Are you afraid to make mistakes in front of others? It's understandable - public errors are often followed by lots of public opinions about what you could have done better. Those opinions MAY be helpful, or they might just be a hammer trying to knock you down a few pegs.

If you learn something from your mistakes, they can be turned into learning opportunities, and having the ability to do that will serve you well. Here's another place where your journal can be of help.

When you make a mistake, write about what happened, your thought processes, and what steps you took before, during and after the mistake. You can learn a lot by debriefing a situation that didn't turn out as planned. It might not feel like fun to do so right away, but doing the analysis shortly afterward keeps your memories fresh and the details sharp.

When you realize that documenting your mistakes and what you'd do to avoid them the next time, you'll be less afraid of them and know how to handle them.

Tip #7: Beware of "Do as I say...not as I do" from your "advisors"

Making public statements about your goals and dreams will bring out the "advisors" - some of which will be full of "If I were you, I would..." statements. The problem? If those very same people were faced with the same situation you are facing, they wouldn't even come CLOSE to taking the same action they are suggesting YOU take.

When you hear advice from others, take a moment and consider - when have THEY faced a similar situation? Ask them about it! Most people love to talk about themselves and asking them to share their wisdom on how they overcame a challenge will make most people start talking. Victories are more fun when shared!

If they haven't overcome a comparable situation, take their "advice" with a grain (or a pound) of salt. When you hear the phrase "If I were you, I would..." be careful. A motivational speaker I saw at a conference repeated the phrase "To know and not to do is not to know" multiple times during his presentation.

If they truly KNEW the "answer", but did not act on it, or never HAD to act on it, how good is their answer? Trust your own judgment and gather your needed and vital information, then make your own decision based on people who have literally "been there...done that" and have the "receipts" to prove it.

Tip #8 Refrain from being too opinionated about others and their decisions

Want to gain a bad reputation? Spend your time always criticizing others. Not only will you be shunned by the more positive-thinking folks in your circle, but you'll also cause others to WANT to criticize you.

"What goes around, comes around." If what people receive from you is primarily negative, they'll stop wanting to be around you. It can be easy to jump on the Negative Train - especially when others are already riding it and stating their preferences loudly and often.

If you're not feeling positive about someone's opinions or plans, be neutral. Wish them well, encourage them to follow their heart or their "first mind," but don't overtly discourage them. If they fail, it'll become obvious soon enough. If you see them headed for a cliff, by all means, pull them to the side and tell them about it, but try to do it in such a way that it doesn't feel like an attack. 

Most people don't react well to attacks (or perceived attacks) on their dreams and goals - they'll get defensive, and their ears will close - along with their minds.

Consider how YOU would want to hear such information and try to be considerate of their feelings. Tell the truth, yes, but you don't have to be OVERLY brutal about it.

Here are a couple of exercises for handling mistakes and opinions:

1. Write down three to five mistakes you've made in the past five years. When you describe them, try to remember the lesson you learned and what information might have helped you to avoid the mistake. Share this information with others in your field who are open to learning. In doing this, you become a leader by helping others to avoid the same mistake you made earlier. You become a resource instead of being someone others are afraid to admit mistakes to.

2. Think of two people you had strong opinions about in the past. They could be public figures, co-workers, friends, or even family members. Upon digging deeper and getting more information, were you right or wrong? Did circumstances shade your opinion one way or the other, and was the direction you went inaccurate? Try to use these experiences, and the next time you're compelled to formulate opinions about others, use what you've learned.

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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