Making a fresh start has its scary moments, no matter how you slice it. There are plenty of potential fears that pop up any time you bring change into the equation.
Change is freaky. Full stop.
But one of the most significant fears is less about the change itself, and more about the potential repercussions of shaking things up.
For real, any time you do something out of the ordinary, people are going to notice. More than likely, they’ll also let you know what they think of your big ideas, whether you want them to or not.
But what happens when your heart is begging you to take a chance on an unbeaten path, but you stay at the starting line for fear of what the neighbors might say?
That fear of judgment often results in NOT taking the leap, staying in a safe place…and eventually living in regret.
And let’s be honest. If you’re living in a small town, other people’s opinions often seem to sound a lot louder than they might if you lived in the big city!
Think of it. There are fewer people around to divert the attention and disburse the energy. And if you try something outside the norm, you might draw more attention to yourself than you would in places with more distractions.
And with that attention, of course, comes other people’s opinions, judgments, and assessments.
But does this mean that if you’re living in a small community, you need to stay in line 24/7 for fear of standing out TOO much?
That is a choice that you can make if you want to. But if you’re a Groove Seeker like me, I believe we can do better.
The truth is that you can create the life you desire no matter where you live. But there’s one major step you can take that’ll make that dream-chasing a lot easier, especially if you live in a place where gossip is heard more clearly than in others.
And that, my groove-seeking friend, is letting go of what other people think.
You might’ve heard of the book “Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware. She was a palliative care nurse for many years, working closely with hospice patients and providing end of life care. And after years of communicating with patients at the end of their lives, she started to see several trends. She discovered five major themes of regret, which ultimately became the foundation of her bestselling book.
Now, you may be wondering what regrets of the dying have to do with making fresh starts. But as I reviewed this book, I discovered that three of the themes struck a chord with respect to new beginnings and daring dreams.
The more I thought about this, the more I made the connection between pursuing big goals and deathbed regrets. And it made me remember that we have the power to take action now to avoid that future “if only…”
So let’s start right now! I’m sharing three of the most significant regrets today. Three regrets that might help you achieve the ultimate liberty in life: freedom from the opinions of others.
Regret #1: I wish I would’ve had the courage to live a life true to myself rather than the life that I thought I should live. Far and away, this was the most common regret. At the end of their lives, most people’s biggest regret was holding back on their dreams for fear of the judgment of others.
Something to think about if you’ve ever feared a negative reaction to taking a new pathway, right?
Of course, drawing this conclusion might seem a little bit easier when you’ve got hindsight on your side. But what if you could create that perspective right now, even if only a little bit?
Easier said than done, naturally as most worthwhile things are.
If you’ve ever let the threat of other people’s reactions stop you from following your path, you’re in great company. (I’m pretty fun. Really.)
God gave us intuition for a reason. Those quiet whispers of your heart happen for a purpose. All you need to do is find the courage to listen to them and follow their lead.
And, of course, recognize that people in our world are going to weigh in on the decisions we make, whether we like it or not.
So no matter what other people might say, remember that what you think and feel matters the most. Let other people have their say, but answer to your guidance before you put someone else’s opinion in charge of your life.
And here’s a little newsflash for you, too: we all tend to think that people spend a lot more time thinking about us than they actually do. But believe it or not, people usually aren’t as fascinated with our lives as we think they are!
Sure, if you do something radical or unusual, you might be the talk of the town. For awhile. But eventually, the new will wear off, the story will die down, and someone new will take center stage.
You are ultimately the only one left with your decisions and your choices. So unless those people with their harsh opinions share your thoughts, your home, or your life, don’t let them drive the bus.
Regret #2: I wish I would’ve had the courage to express my feelings. Another common regret was that many people spent their lives suppressing their feelings for the sake of keeping the peace. They wished they would’ve been more honest, spoken up, and stood in their truth without fear.
What was usually the result? People ended up living mediocre lives, never fully expressing themselves, never blossoming into the person they were capable of becoming.
Now, if you’re a woman living in a small town, I bet that the fear of speaking up is something you can relate to at a deep level.
I’m on several committees in my town. And in many of them, I’m the lone woman. So you can imagine that sometimes speaking my mind puts something of a target on my back.
We’re talking about being labeled things like “ball-buster” or “tough broad” (both of which I’ve heard a time or two!)
Maybe you’re afraid of people saying things like “who does she think she is,” or thinking that you’re “too big for your britches.” Those fears are legitimate.
When you dare to speak your mind, you run the risk of being labeled. That’s just part of the deal.
But truly if you want to live a fulfilled life, you have to accept a few risks.
The truth is that no matter what you do, someone out there isn’t going to like it. Nobody can be everybody’s cup of tea. And that’s the beauty of it right there–you don’t have to be everybody’s favorite flavor!
We all have unique gifts. It’s up to you to find your talents, nurture them, and find the courage to use them. Not only does the world need your special talents, but you need to express them. After all, stepping into your truth is what living a fulfilled life is all about.
Regret #3: I wish I would’ve let myself be happier. This one might sound a little bit strange at first. But let it sit for a moment. What does this communicate to you?
Many people don’t realize until the end of their lives that happiness is a choice. Instead, they hold onto old ways of thinking, outdated habits, and comfortable thoughts. And of course, nothing new grows in a comfort zone.
Every day you can choose to be happy. And the more often you decide to be joyful, the more likely that happiness will become your new normal.
When you take responsibility for your happiness, it translates into following your heart with a lot more ease. It means trusting your intuition and pursuing your dreams, no matter how crazy others might think they are.
Now, I’m not going to lie–the moment you decide to make a big change is often when you get the most intense objections from others…
You might hear people say things like “smart girls wouldn’t do that,” or “you must not care too much about your family if you’re going to spend that much time away from them.”
These are the kind of comments that are best left to the people saying them. If you hang on to that kind of nastiness, it comes at a price. It’ll eventually rob you of your happiness, not to mention the courage to pursue your truest purpose.
People with that many negative opinions are living a negative existence themselves. Not exactly the kind of people you want to put in charge of your happiness, right?
At the end of the day, keep this one simple truth at heart: what other people think of you is NOT your business. It’s theirs. And the more you mind your own business, the less you’ll fear what others are saying. That will ultimately create more space in your life for what YOU want!
So take these messages from the dying to heart. Recognize that it’s your life, and you need to live it YOUR way. You’ll be that much closer to living a fulfilled life. And with as little regret as possible.
What are YOU going to do this week to help you let go of other people’s opinions and start going for your dreams? Leave me a comment and let me know!
P.S. Love discussions like these? Then get your sweet self over to the Groove Seeker’s Community! It’s the place to be to connect with women just like you, who are living big lives in their small towns. Join us right HERE!