Changing your mind

Flaky. I don't much like the word, and I dread people thinking it of me. Flaky is someone who is unreliable, easily distracted, can't decide, and forever changing their mind. One of my favourite childhood books is about a little girl who goes to a school she doesn't want to go to. She is determined to be difficult. She tells anyone and everyone that she is going to leave after one term, as she will have 'given it a go' as she promised her father. By the end of term, the other girls at school have shaken the issues out of her, and she is sitting with the quietest one of all discussing her next steps, and expressing aloud her wish to not be such a strong person so that she could change her mind and stay at school. Her friend replies that actually it is not a sign of weakness to change your mind, but a sign of strength.

I think I have sometimes allowed myself to be confused by these two ideas; that is, being the one that 'can't decide' as 'flaky' and being 'strong' to change your mind Yet, when you're determining your ideals for the future, when you're carving out the path, when you're just making choices, things do change. You have to adjust, follow up different avenues of investigation.

Changing your mind for your whole career sometimes feels like you're admitting that you made the 'wrong' choice, and you've had to change to the 'right' one.

If you've read about unconventional living, standing out from the crowd, being different, standing up for something, or even just holding a strong view, you know you'll get people telling you you're wrong. Even shouting at you or saying nasty things. Even dismissing your views as fad-like and unsubstantiated. People will say it won't work, you'll fall on your face.

Even from your closest friends. Even your family.

I would guess mostly the most fervent protesters are merely those who love you but want to protect you, and know that you will ignore them and do it anyway. But they want to have a go, because they want to see if you'll back down. So they can avoid saying 'I told you so' when it looks like you're not going to succeed.

The best way to combat this (yes, it feels like a war) is to collect a few people who have gone ahead, who are with you and support you. New acquaintances become friends very quickly when you're in the same place. Those who are starting their own businesses or changing jobs alongside you can be the people who can pull you through the bad times and then look to you when you are thriving and they need the same support. Even if it doesn't feel like there are many around you, keep looking. A good place to start may be online communities such as Careershifters.org or Escape the City, but make sure you can meet some people offline as well as online.

Tim Ferriss has written an article on the haters - those people who hate what you're doing. I find this very heartening when confronted by people who don't like what you do. You must not give these people head space. Dwelling on what other people have said which is negative will drag you down.

'What other people say' can be one of  the strongest barriers to action. Even if it's what people say in your head. But if you can get past that fear, you'll be surprised at what people actually DO say.