How to tell people you're changing your life...

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. Even from your closest friends. Even your family.

My advice about telling people your new career plan? Well there are two options.

1) Don't. Don't tell them. That is, until you have a firm idea of what you want to achieve or how you want to change things. If you consider other people's advice as important, you often take it, and you are fearful of arguing a point especially when it's not Quite clear in your head, just hold off for a while. Not forever. Just until you can't go on 'pretending'. This is really only an option for those people who are pretty self-sufficient and aren't jointly responsible for children, a mortgage or another financial committment to which they are tied. This is a 'Don't spill all your ideas too soon kind of an idea'. A little thought can be blown away by a skeptical friend. Don't keep it to yourself without telling anyone. But pick your confidantes carefully for help and advice.

2) Tell hand-picked confidantes. Tell them they are hand-picked. And tell them not to shout it around. Your original ideas and thoughts will merge into something different. Even if you've gone around telling people that you're going to be  a dentist and you want a life in suburbia in the South of England, it's ok if you actually want to be a personal stylist to the stars. Or if you decide one day you want to be a fisherman and you have even gone out and bought the books, equipment, stool, hat, and bait, but then realise that actually it's something you might want to keep for the weekends and your ideal work is more suited to writing about the wriggly water creatures you encounter. Or maybe you've told people you are going to be an airhostess, and then deciding you want to be a makeup artist. But be ready for people to challenge you on 'What happened to your other ideas?' 'But you haven't got any experience in that?' and 'What are you going to about [insert money/your mortgage/latest boyfriend here]. It's ok, they just care about you!

I didn't struggle to tell people when I had a plan. Telling someone the plan is not half as hard and coming up with the plan. It's while the plan is still in beta, you're still working it out, your ideas are not yet formed. You know you want change but you're not exactly sure what it is yet.You appear as though your head is in the clouds and you're 'not being practical'.

It's tough when you're friends and family (or school careers coach!) are more traditional thinkers when it comes to careers. Introduce them gently. Hint at some ideas and the steps you are taking to reach the ideas (either investigating them as possibilities or achieving them). If anyone displays anger or cruel criticism, withdraw from the conversation and be strong in shutting your thoughts to that person's words. In most cases, if there is initial resistance to your ideas, if you persevere, the people around you will see you're in this for the long run and will come to be great supporters of your change. But ease them in.

Here's a few lines on the subject:

"I've been thinking about how to push my career forward and I've come up with a few possibilities....I've learned this exercise in how to focus your thoughts by really expanding my thinking to include some unusual ideas..I won't neceessarily use all of them."

"I'm considering doing a course in ....By diversifying my knowledge I hope to add to my experience and offer something further."

"I'm looking into exploring new areas of interest and I'm going for coffee with Ali's friend as he works in that industry."

It's about knowing what you want inside and that knowledge being more important than other people's views. It's about deciding to step out even though you know you'll have to work round your family's skepticism. It's about deciding to do it, because deciding Not to to it is not worth thinking about. Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, has a few tips on people who are change HATERs. Maybe you have come up with your own ideas of how to deal with criticism of your new direction? If you'd like, add your own tips in the comments below.

This is your life. Yes, it gets more complicated to work out where more and more people are dependent on you. But if inside you, it's what you Have to do, take the plunge and don't just keep it to yourself.


A note for Scanners

See what I hid in those examples? If,  like me, you are a scanner, that is, you have many different interests and you think you'll never have a life in which you can cater for them all, the first thing is to allow yourself to get the ideas out there. It's ok to like space exploration and cooking and reading and dissecting insects. Give your talents paper space. Perhaps you don't need to change your whole career, only part of it.  Looking at the first example: perhaps that person likes: dentistry and helping people but wants to include their love of meeting celebrities and love of clothes within their career. And perhaps the airhostess loves being able to 'create a look' each day? And the fisherman who adores writing but only wants to write about fish.

Take the things you love and write them down. And with an ideas hat on, brainstorm your ideas around those things in terms of careers. Or just write down WHAT you love doing around them. Writing/talking/creating videos? Seeing flowers, drawing flowers, smelling flowers? Taking words and making pictures? Find themes, even though it might not seem like there are themes at first.

More scanner links to help you out: Emilie Wapnick, Barbara Sher and her book Refuse to Choose, Scanners Night