One of the biggest obstacles to defining your own version of success and pursuing it is often the lack of the right kind of support from those around us. Although it can be difficult to admit, sometimes those close to us aren’t excited about changes we’re seeking to make or new paths we’re wanting to pursue. Sometimes people close to us can be discouraging, which doesn’t feel very good.

It’s really hard to achieve your goals if you don’t have supportive people—with the right kind of support—around you. So to understand if this is an obstacle for you, ask yourself a few questions:

Who is holding you back and reining you in? Often this happens when someone’s own insecurities and fears are projected onto you, or it happens because they have selfish interests in your fulfillment of expectations related to them. In effect, those people may be keeping you down and dimming your light. In my life, these are the people who have told me I’m “just not ready” to take on new roles or projects at work when really they don’t want me to move on to a new role because it would have made their own life more difficult. These are the people who encouraged me to stay in an unhealthy relationship because “he’s so nice to everybody.” These are people who have discouraged hobbies that were fun for me (including stand-up comedy) because “it’s just not really appropriate.” 

Who is helping you be who you want to be? Who are the teachers, neighbors, family members, and colleagues who support you wholly and without judgment? Who are the people who cheer you on when you’re doing something ridiculous that you enjoy immensely? Who are the people who want to support you in what YOU want to do, not just support you in what THEY want you to do? In my life, these are the people who encouraged me to write a book, to move to different countries, to get on a surfboard more often, and to do other crazy, fun, memorable things that I really wanted to do! 

I didn’t always have supportive people around me. At one point in my life, I realized I was surrounded by people who wanted something from me – time, access, resources, talent. I was surrounded by people who were trying to hold me back for their own reasons. And I was spending my time trying to convince these people that I was worthy of their support. I tried to be more of what they wanted me to be, I tried to please and appease them, and I tried to play their game.

Then at some point, I realized that there are SEVEN BILLION PEOPLE on the planet and that surely a few of them would support me rather than hold me back. This was humbling because I realized I had been surrounding myself with unsupportive people and I was trying to get them to support me, which was never going to happen. I realized a better use of my energy would be to look for new people in my life. And it took several years to find people who support me in the way I needed to be supported. 

I encourage you to pause and consider who are the people in your life who are supporting you in ways you need to be supported. Go find more of them. And for those who are not supportive, spend less of your time and energy on them. Stop trying to convince them to support you. Instead, spend your energy finding people who already do. They’re out there. It just takes time to figure out who is who because the first people to pop up in your life are often those who want something from you.

You’ve got to wade through the mishmash first and then find your supporters. And know there are always people in the gray area. You think they support you, but somehow you’re not really sure. And you’re not sure if they’d support you going in a new direction that is more in line of what is right for you. Maybe those people are not supporting you in ways you need to be supported. Perhaps you can ask them to support you in the ways you need and then see how it goes.

Find the support that you need because it’s essential to define your own version of success and pursue it. It’s out there. Go get it.