Do You Need Your Family and Friends to Support Your Dreams? (The Answer Might Surprise You)


“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” – Alice Walker

When I initially made the decision to quit my full-time job back in 2009, the first person I told was my mom. I could tell that she wasn’t 100% sold on the idea, but eventually she came around. “You can always go back,” she said.

When I told my grandmother, however, I received a more panicked reaction. All of a sudden, my typically supportive Grama turned into a shrewd news reporter. She immediately launched into this “who? what? when? where? how?” spiel, followed by a few worst-case scenarios. I think I finally ended the conversation with, “don’t worry Grama, I know what I’m doing.”

In reality, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was scared and anxious and all I wanted to hear was that everything was going to work out and I wouldn’t end up homeless on the streets of DC.

But as I went through the process of talking to each of my family members and friends about my decision to take the leap and build my business on a full-time basis, I received mixed reactions. At the end of it all, I was left feeling unsure about whether becoming self-employed was really what I should do.

Four years later, I can see so clearly that if I had waited for everyone in my life to get on board with my decision, I would still be at my full-time job. I would still be sitting in my cubicle wondering if I could make it on my own as an entrepreneur.

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, this is the truth, whether you like it or not.

You can’t make your family and friends support you.

I get it. We all want the total package. We want to be able to pursue our big goals with the full support of our friends and family. But the reality is that you can’t force people to support you. You can’t make them understand just how bad you want this. This is YOUR dream, after all, not theirs. It’s not their job to drop everything and coddle you and make you feel good about your decision to change your life. So you have to want to succeed more than you need people to validate you. You have to do what you need to do even if you don’t have a cheering section behind you.

You may want their approval, but you don’t actually need it.

Let me put it to you this way. You’re not going to die if your family and friends don’t believe in your vision as much as you do. Sometimes, frustrating as it may be, the people closest to you have to literally SEE you living your dream before they will be able to support you. That’s why it’s useless to wait for their approval before you take action. Challenge yourself to distinguish between needs and wants when you talk about your expectations of others. You may WANT their approval, but you don’t actually NEED it. In this way, you can stop attaching your success and happiness to the opinions of other people.

It feels so good when friends and family members support your dreams. But if they don’t, you have to learn to be OK with that, too. Stop getting so upset when the people you love let you down. Instead, use that energy to find a new group of friends, colleagues and peers who are willing to walk with you on your new path. Ultimately, you don’t need anyone to be happy for you if YOU are truly happy for yourself.

Leave a comment: Have you been waiting for your family and friends to start supporting you before you move forward with your goals? How can you begin to let go of your need for their approval so you can live your ideal life?



Comments & Feedback:

  1. Once I realized (pretty early on) that I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill the “finish school and go to college + get a good job” dream, I knew I was going to pretty much be on my own emotionally. For much of my self-employed life, I’ve had to deal with passive-aggressive and overt displays of disapproval and disappointment from relatives. At this point, I’m no longer looking for their understanding and their support. The best way they’ve been able to help me is by not getting in the way.

  2. Monique

    This article resonates with me…In 2009 I graduated with a B.S degree in Organizational Management. I am the first to graduate from college in my family. Since, I was the first to graduate I assumed that my siblings would get on board with me, be happy for me, and celebrate with me. Once, I discovered that they could care less about my accomplishment, I was heart broken, because they celebrated everything and everyone else. I pondered what did I do, or said?I replayed scenarios over and over in my mind about what I could have said, or what I did? I was upset for a while. There I was a first generation graduate, my children attended my graduation and were able to see me make history in our family, and I was heart broken, because my siblings were not there. It took me a while to forgive them and get over it, but I did. I had to realize that graduating from college was my dream and not theirs. It’s my dream to graduate from college, because my grandmother desired to, but never made it past the second grade. It is my dream to be an example to my children. Once I realized that it was my dream and not theirs I gained a new perspective on life. I no longer relied on them to affirm me and my endeavors. I stopped relying on them to say ” that’s a good idea, or you should do it” I do what I desire to do and what I know I am destined to.

    Now, I am about to graduate with my Masters, and I am celebrating with the people who want to celebrate with me. Even if they didn’t celebrate with me I have already made plans to celebrate myself! My graduation gift to myself is to take me a cruise to the Bahamas and I am making it happen.

    • Tonya Hanna

      Building your support knit is extremely important and also gets challenging on your way to be all you can be. I am in total agreement with meshing with like-minded people from levels to direction. At the end of the creation of my legacy i know family will be the rewarder of some of my hard work without them there would be no me…..

  3. Great article! In this sense, I would call myself blessed and lucky because I came from a family where entrepreneurship was the ultimate goal. If you weren’t a full-time business owner, your goal was to make your side hustle the full-time job.

    When I told my family that I wanted to start my company, they were very supportive and still are.

    I know I have friends who are jealous. I use their jealousy as fuel when I’m tired or unsure. Sometimes, not having support can be your best motivation.

    • Tonya Hanna

      Continue to have the correct reaction to the haters because they could not understand the entrepreneural spirit unless it was within. Thanks for sharing your story it has given me guidance and understanding of how to follow my dreams with or without support.