A few years ago, one of my summer interns requested an exit interview. We had already wrapped up the required end of internship commitments, but she wanted to know more. I’m always impressed when people go above and beyond, risk reaching out, risk sharing what they want, or risk asking hard questions. So, of course, I said yes. After talking about career advice, she asked, “How did you get to the point where you just don’t care what anyone else thinks about you?” That sparked a moment in time that I still to this day reflect on. Honestly, I’ve worked hard to focus on what really matters in life and not give my energy to worrying about what others think of me. Not caring about what others think has taken time and effort; it’s a daily readjustment, and a daily choice that is critically important to success. I’ve identified five key areas of my life that have majorly impacted my ability to practice confidence in my choices and not care about the naysayers – and I’d love to share them with you.
1. Know Thyself
In my early twenties, I cannot say I was winning in the self-awareness sector. I had no idea that it was even possible to live a life free of the burden of other people’s opinions. Trust me, I still have room to grow. This is something that I’ve had to work hard to develop in order to get to where I am now in life, but I will not stop. Looking back to a time when I would receive terrible advice, and not only listen to it, but take it, I am so thankful for the beauty of growth.
I was so unsure of who I was when I started in my career. I once met with a woman in the industry who told me that I should dye my hair brown, wear it in a ponytail, and wear less makeup. And the crazy thing is, is that I did it! I felt like an imposter every day. This woman’s advice came from her own experience, and although it was well meaning, it did not serve me or my goals in any way. It was in this time that I had the revelation that I first had to know myself, accept myself, and love myself. I had to understand my core values, and know how to stick with them throughout my personal and professional life. I needed to stop hiding my talents, and who I was, because others couldn’t quite see my vision.
We are all given unique gifts that not everyone recognizes. Instead of apologizing for using them, we need to shift our mindset to apologize for not using them! When I started to refocus on myself and my values, I had to set boundaries. Setting these boundaries involved removing people from my life who did not align with who I knew I was, and where I was going. I had to drop clients who were paying me good money, but whose values did not align with my own. I know there are some of you reading this who think you can maneuver and massage relationships like this to make them work, but please hear me when I say, this will exhaust you, and this will hold you back from where you are going. When I was compromising and not being true to myself with these clients, there was always struggle, stress, and anxiety. Once I had clarity of my true core values, I knew the change was going to be difficult, but very much so worth it.
“Instead of apologizing for using them [our unique gifts], we need to shift our mindset to apologize for not using them!”
2. Faith & Family
The true catalyst for me has been my faith and my family. This may sound cliché, but when I started living for an audience of One and decided to stop living for the acceptance and approval of others, my life changed. Once I knew my core values, I had to self-reflect and find out whose opinion really mattered to me. To know, believe, and truly be in a relationship with God has given me confidence to take the path that may be narrow, but is focused on living for the one opinion that matters the most. His.
Having my daughter Skylar made me realize even more of who I am, and who I want to become. Living life for other people was exhausting (and honestly, overrated) and caused me so much inner turmoil that distracted me from where my focus needed to lie. In order to thrive for myself, and show up for my daughter in the best way that I can as her mom, a change of mindset and counsel was needed. I strongly encourage everyone to have a handful of people in their inner circle whom they can confide in and trust for quality insight. I trust certain individuals in my life, and I consider their opinions because I value their character, thoughts, and ideas.
3. Daily Mindset
Not caring about what other people think is a mindset shift. For me, it’s a daily refocus. I choose every day to not worry about other people’s opinions; some days I’m successful, and others I struggle. My morning routine of quiet time and meditation, prayer, and gratitude for a new day, as opposed to checking the latest social media updates, has been a game changer. These quick, morning meditations have given me time to set the tone for my day, to check in with myself, my goals, and my intentions. In order to get to where you want to go, an understanding of what that process looks like and how it can be achieved is necessary. When you focus on who you are and where you’re doing, it’s easier to ignore distractions that don’t align.
Life is short. Time is limited. Using this limited time wisely is not up for debate. I used to let so much outside “noise” cloud my focus: I’d spend hours on social media looking at other people’s “perfect lives.” I would constantly check on the status of likes and comments whenever I would post. I compared myself regularly to the “standard” for a perfect body, looks, life, and the list goes on. The conclusion I have come to is that it’s exhausting and it leaves you feeling even emptier. Invest in something that will fill you and your dreams.
I’m not saying that when you refocus your life, you will never have stress. But I can say that you’ll become more aware. You’ll notice your trigger points. You’ll listen to your inner voice. Your responses will become more focused. And the list goes on. I chose to walk away from working with one of the most successful players in the NFL because of the fact that another individual who worked with him had nothing but nasty things to say. Maybe he was just having a bad day. But regardless of the reason or excuse, this impacted me when I worked with him. I couldn’t spend any part of my day or energy on that negativity. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but I walked away. In all honesty, before I refocused on what really mattered, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have bit the bullet for the money and the notoriety. Endurance to keep chasing where I saw myself and where I wanted to go, gave me the confidence to act on what I knew was right. Refocus gives you endurance to evaluate where you are, where you want to go, and what has to change in order to reach the end goal. Stay the course.
Once I recognized that I needed to readjust my lens in life, it became so much easier to ignore people’s opinions. If you struggle with worrying about what others think of your choices, please take time to reflect on your core values and other areas in your life that may need to be refocused. Your reasons will look different than mine, but hopefully it’ll lead to the same place–freedom. Self-awareness is such a powerful thing. Once you’re secure in yourself, you’ll be free to think, and breathe, and live, as you see fit. This freedom will require you to be proactive; find a podcast, find a book, find others who are on the same path, and fill your mind with inspiration to push you towards your future. Trust me, with discipline comes freedom, and there is nothing like the freedom of not caring what others think.