The year of “yes”!

Diva Barbra Streisand had to overcome naysayers!Do you dream of things you would like to do only to become discouraged before you even get started?  Darlings, it could be the company you keep. Too many people these days seem to get a kick out of squelching each other’s dreams and ambitions. There are many reasons for this behaviour; some are relatively benign, but some are not so nice. But why not learn to ignore them and make this year of “yes”.

 
Surround yourself with those who will help you and celebrate your accomplishments. And say yes to accomplishing your dreams.
 
Dream-killers
You may want to lose weight, get in shape, find a new job or change careers. Perhaps you want to learn to play a musical instrument or even write a book. A dream or goal can be almost anything you desire. Maybe you want to fall in love, go to Europe, or climb a mountain. Maybe you have several goals — or one big one. Make a list or vision board and get started on your plan to reach your goal.
 
Avoid negative people. A smart friend of mine calls them “dream-killers”. They will rain on your parade, sap your energy, and crush your spirit, if you let them.
 
Overly cautious
Some are people are just naturally cautious. It might be their nature, or perhaps they were brought up that way. There is nothing wrong a little prudence. A friend with a head for details can be helpful — if they’re supportive.  But there is a difference between fear and caution.  Fear can paralyze you.  It can also be contagious. Fear can stop your from becoming all you can be. Take your fearful friend to therapy, but don’t let her into your head.
 
Fear of being left behind
No one likes to talk about it, but sometimes friends are afraid they will be left behind. This can happen if you start to lose weight and get fit. The friend who feels "left" will often engage in sabotage and other negative behavior.
 
Darlings, this is not to say all your larger friends will feel this way if you lose weight. There are plenty of happy and healthy people who are bigger than a size 6. They eat well, exercise, and don’t binge; they are living large and loving it.
 
What I am talking about are co-dependant buddies with bad habits. As you trim down and start to garner compliments your old pizza-eating pal may not feel great about your sexy new figure, even if you don’t show off. If you have invited your friend to work out and diet with you — and you probably have– I say move on. I know it sounds harsh, but if your friend is really a friend, she will make peace with your new look and fitness habits.  She may be inspired to make her own changes too. But if not, don’t feel badly. If envy is what’s driving you apart, then conflict is inevitable. Good friends help each other and encourage each other to reach higher for happiness.
 
Career envy
It’s not only weight and fitness that can bring up negativity and naysayers. Career and creative endeavors can be a minefield in friendships. In this economy, it is only wise to be on the lookout for alternate streams of revenue. Even professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, are looking for new ways to explore their careers and enhance their earning power.
 
Countless experts on television and in magazines are ready to encourage you to explore and exploit your talents. So, when you finally attempt something new, the negative reaction of some of your nearest and dearest may be a shock. If you decide to change career, write a book, become a chef, or do anything new and creative, get ready for a few naysayers.  Maybe your friend is jealous that you have the courage to try or of your talent – who cares? Avoid those who are purely negative and dismissive. Learn to separate them from people who offer good advice. Maybe you should proof read your article and tighten it up a bit, if a supportive and experienced writer suggests it. Or if a chef or business friend suggests that culinary school will help you further your cooking career, this is not being negative. 
 
Beware the “under-cutter”
But be aware the friend who “helps” to feel important. She can kill your dream without meaning to. I have a friend who does this to friends and colleagues all the time – even though many of us have tried to correct her. She will recommend a mutual friend who is a brilliant artist. But then she tells the client that our friend is “very poor,” making our friend sound like a loser, which she is not.
 
 She will describe other working professional women as “housewives first” for no other reason than they have good marriages and work from home offices. She just slips these remarks in when talking about seasoned professional women. Ironically she also works from a home office and is married.
 
I have noticed that that she engages in this offhanded professional under-cutting when she feels threatened and less-than-accomplished. She undercuts her friends to feel more important. It often backfires, but it is an awkward and bad experience –especially for those trying getting a new venture off the ground or who are trying on a new professional identity. If you have a friend like this, her help may be too costly. If she undercuts you, never engage in an argument. Just restate your credentials later in the conversation if it is important, or follow-up later with people you want to do business with. This behavior often backfires. The person engaging in it looks needy and unprofessional. She tried this tactic on me once. We were having cocktails with a high-powered woman we both knew socially and professionally. She instantly knew she had misstepped, as the other woman looked uncomfortable. I said nothing. She apologized later. I accepted her apology, but I also knew she had damaged her own reputation – not mine.
 
Outgrowing friends
One of my young friends recently had a terrible expirence. She has been working hard to establish her freelance career. To meet an important deadline she had to work all night on her birthday. She was fine with this, as was her very supportive partner. One of her old friends decided to barge in to confront her about her supposed neglect of a mutual friend. As this young woman berated my friend, her deadline drew nearer. My friend finally had to threaten to toss her out. Needless to say this was not a ‘Happy Birthday!’ The irony is my friend is a sweet person who hates conflict. She is not neglectful, but she is outgrowing these girls who are not settling in to adulthood with careers or relationships. My young friend has grown-up dreams to pursue, and that leaves no time for sitting up all night drinking and smoking.
 
Single White Female --Roomate from Hell Briget Fonda and Jennifer Jason LeighGrown-ups outgrow friends, too. I had a friend who had been involved in every crazy business under the sun – some successful, some scandalous. I did not always approve, but I stood by her. Once I was telling her about a project of mine. She was very rude and dismissive. I said goodbye and never spoke to her again. It may seem harsh, but I had never treated her badly through all her many dramas and failures. And as it turns out, that idea led to a successful venture. But that is not the point, when she was so rude; I realized I had outgrown her.
 
Darlings, I don’t know why some friends are negative, competitive, or envious. It is not nice to think about. My advice is to move away from those that don’t support your dreams; there will be plenty who will. Some friends are fine, if you never discuss work. I have a few like that. I love them no less.
 
If anyone undercuts your dreams or self esteem with nasty remarks – even playfully– rethink the friendship. Find mentors who are a good fit for you. You can find good, talented people to help, teach, and encourage you. Seek the company of those who offer sound advice. Shun the negative. Good mentors may not always tell you what you want to hear, but they won’t smash your dreams. They will help you to reach your goal.
 
Darlings, a life without dreams is not fully lived. You can get what you want, at least some of the time, if you are willing to work for it. So dream, plan, and scheme, and make this the year of “yes”.
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