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Stop Listening - Res 38


The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.

At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.

For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.

Res 38: Stop Listening

When I was 18, I told someone whose opinion I placed too much value in all about my ambitions with The Smile Project. I told them about how I wanted to do more than post Happiness is statuses on Facebook. I explained the big vision and told them how I’d been working on it for a long time. They told me it was stupid. They told me it would never work. And they told me that it was a silly idea to even entertain.

It crushed me for only a moment before I went right back to the drawing board, and made my dreams happen. Five years later and I run a nonprofit organization that is beyond what I could have ever hoped for as a recent high school graduate.

When I was 20, I signed my very tiny college up for a national service competition through the nonprofit We were up against schools that were 40, 50, and 60 times our size. Multiple people told me I was wasting my time and that I had no idea what I was up against.

I rolled my eyes, did the work, and led my school to take 3rd place overall and win the Spirit Award. I heard their criticism and I knew it was a challenge, but I rose to the occasion anyway. I did not care what they had to say.

When I was 22, I took a volunteer position for a nonprofit and suddenly felt incredibly unqualified. I was in over my head and the number one person reminding me of that was myself. Every night, I waited for the organization to realize I was just a kid who dreams too big. Every day, I worried my actions could never amount to anything.

I was making pasta the other day, watching the water bubble to a steady boil when I thought back to these examples. I’d had my share of people doubting my abilities on account of I’m “too young” or “too ambitious” or, the most hurtful in my opinion, “too naïve.”

I’d heard it all before. But something had changed. This time, I started to believe them. I let myself buy into the idea that maybe I was really was too young or ambitious or naïve. And the number one person who was drilling this into my head was myself.

Resolution #38: Stop Listening

But I was all of those things and more when I decided to start The Smile Project. I was younger and less experienced when I took on the Ivy League giants in the college competition. I was young and naïve, sure, but that also made me bold and invincible.

I’m done listening to anything that tells me I can’t. I’m done entertaining the voice of reason or the nagging idea that I might not be enough. I’m through wondering if it makes sense. I’m dreaming a little too big for that.

Love always,


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