"What will people think?" 6 tips to stop worrying and live more boldly.

So, I have a brand new business and website. I still can’t quite believe it’s real. It wasn’t so long ago now that I was feeling really stuck. I knew I wanted to change something, but I wasn’t sure what to change, where to begin or how to begin.

I felt stuck. I was toying with the idea of changing my work/career direction but then BAM! The thoughts came. Loud and Clear.

“You can’t change things now, you’re too old!”                     
“You can’t change things now, you’ve already changed too many times!”

 Pfft. It didn’t take me too long to blow those two off.

But then the next one shouted,

“YOU CAN’T CHANGE NOW, WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?

Indeed. What will they think?

It can be such a paralysing question. It’s interesting, as I wasn’t worried about what my loved ones would say – as they are supportive of me and my choices…I was actually worrying about the invisible and unknown thoughts of random people who are not in my inner circle. Acquaintances. These thoughts would strike upon me at various times: when I considered a career change; when I was about to hit publish on a blog post, or even just as I was about to start writing. Not a word would pour out of me. I was censoring my words, ideas and opinions. Trying to play it safe, appeal to everyone and not offend or upset people. It was completely frustrating, kept me small and stuck. In other words, it kept me safe.

I wish I could say exactly what the moment was when I stopped caring and just went for it. I’m definitely not immune to having the ‘what will people think?’ thoughts now. But, I have noticed they crop up less and less.

Looking back, there were a few things that helped me move into action, stop worrying about what others think and simply do what I wanted to do. I’m sharing them in the hope you find them useful.

1.       Identify your needs

Find some quiet time and space to go within. Journal write, or create a vision board. Listen to some of your favourite quiet music. Consider where you are now in life. Where do you want to be? How do you want to feel? What do you want to be doing differently? What is missing that you can’t let go of? What is your heart calling for you to do, explore, release, chase, seek, be?

2.       Seek inspiration.

A book that really helped me was “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brenè Brown – it’s been a total game changer for me. Brenè urges us to let go of what others think by making a commitment to being our authentic self.

This is described as a daily practice where we are “cultivating the courage to be imperfect; to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made from strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”

So be real, strong, gentle, kind and believe in yourself. Let that goodness grow inside of you and keep at it every day.

3.       Do a risk analysis

 Ask yourself. “What will the cost to me be if I don’t step up/make a change/do xyz?”

For me, I knew if I didn’t pursue my new path in coaching, publish my website or write from the heart – I would feel stifled. Stuck. Small. Not aligned with my values. Inauthentic. I decided I couldn’t risk to have those feelings grow bigger or spill into the rest of my life. Especially as a mother. I wanted to model living with courage, joy, clarity, peace and fulfillment to my children.

When I look up from my computer, I have a sign that reads “The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.” It drives me.  

Brene Brown warns against the risk of hiding yourself and your gifts from the world:

“Our unexpressed ideas, opinions and contributions don’t just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness.”

Equally consider, what are the potential gains for you to make a change?

4.       Do something different – start small

Take frequent small risks. Say yes before you feel 100% ready. No-one is ever 100% ready! Where is the magic sign that says ‘yep, here you go. Ready!” Hint: There isn’t one. It’s an arbitrary measurement from your ego. I found that by saying yes to the little things, I gained momentum and confidence and found myself saying yes to even bigger things. Things that previously would have felt out of my league or too scary to contemplate. (But they were precisely the big things I deeply wanted to do!).

5.       Give yourself permission to feel

Talk about the fear with someone you trust. Journal write. Hide under a blanket with some chocolate if you must. Allow yourself to feel the fear. If you try to resist and keep it pushed down, it will just keep shouting at you, trying to make you get smaller and smaller and smaller.

It’s natural to feel fear, worry and doubt along the way. It’s a sign of you stretching and growing beyond your comfort zone. Even though fear may be present, you can still take action. It does not need to dictate to you what you can and can’t do – even though it will give it a red hot go!

6.       Seek support + accountability.

Finding a person who is going support you and challenge you to keep growing and extending yourself is invaluable. Perhaps you can team up with a friend and be each other’s cheerleader? Surround yourself with people who make you feel capable, confident and inspired. Don’t underestimate the power of spurring your friend on too!

Perhaps you might consider working with a coach to help you hone in on your goals, set actionable steps, inspire and motivate you and help bypass the blocks and fears that are trying to get in your way.

Are you contemplating making a change in your life? Are you tangled in concerns about what others might think?

Post a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.