Ask HaviNote: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. This person got in by a. being one of my clients or students, b. flattering the hell out of my duck, and c. making life easy on me by being clear about what the question was and what details I could use.

So. This is a weird, complicated double Ask Havi because I have two people in seemingly opposite situations with the same problem. Namely:

“What do you say to those people in your life when … “


When they bug you. When they won’t leave you alone. When they think you should be following their advice.

When they can’t understand why you would do things your way and not their way.

Or when they aren’t saying anything yet but you’re worried that they’re going to. Hard!

Right. Different situations. Same issue. Different advice. Same principles.

Person #1:

“I’m taking a break from doing my thing because I decided I need to go back to having a ‘real job’ for a while. I’ll still be working on my thing and thinking about my thing, but won’t be engaging me in a full-time way.

And I’m worried about people giving me crap about it.”

Person #2:

“Everyone in my life will not stop asking me when I’m going to quit doing my thing and go back to a ‘real job’. It’s driving me crazy. They keep hinting that maybe now is the time and why would I take the risk of keeping it up.

They don’t understand that — for me, at least — there isn’t any real security in a job, and that doing my thing is something I truly believe in and am invested in.

I know I can make it work, but all my energy goes to these people and their worries.”

And … exhale.

Starting at the beginning.

First off, hugs all around for the hard. Because ack. Hard.

Both of these situations are absolutely challenging and frustrating, each in its own way. It completely makes sense to me that either one of these things would be all kinds of stressful.

So … I’m going to take them one at a time. I’ll tell you what I think and what I would say. And then maybe do a little summing up.

And, as always, take the stuff that’s useful for you and ignore the bits that aren’t. And go ahead and rephrase whatever I say into language that works for you.

The person who has a job and feels weird about it.

My thoughts.

There’s nothing wrong with a job. Lots of people have jobs. Lots of people take jobs while they’re working on developing their thing.

Let me quote (with permission) the wonderful Susan Marie on this:

“I am very boring on the subject of jobs. Just this: jobs that help people pay bills and be independent and move forward are a good thing.

We learn things from them. We combine jobs with other things. They surprise us.

And we who work in the arts often put together very quirky combinations of things to help ourselves be financially independent. I will try to avoid spraining my ankle as I jump down off of this soap box.”

Yes! Also, did you ever read Andrea J. Lee‘s book Multiple Streams of Coaching Income?

She has a whole chapter — a really good one — called Coaching Day Jobs. About why it’s actually a great idea for coaches to get jobs doing a non-coachey thing. Because that’s where you find out what it’s like to use coaching skills in a non-coaching situation.

So yeah. Absolutely a legitimate thing to do.

What I’d say to people who asked.

“I get that you’re feeling anxious when you think about me not doing my thing, because you need to know that I’m going to be okay. And I appreciate that.

“Right now this feels like the best way for me to create a safe, supportive environment to grow my thing and take care of myself in a conscious and steady way, without burning out.

“So this decision is really about allowing me to take the time to figure out what my next steps are, and to make sure that I don’t get depleted. Because the only way I can grow my thing right now is through me getting the support I need.”

The person who doesn’t want that job and is sick of being asked when she’s going to take it.

My thoughts.

Totally legitimate.

And man, when you’re working on growing your thing, there’s nothing harder than constantly being challenged on it by the people you need cheering you on.

I’ve been there. It sucks.

What I’d say to people who asked.

“I get that you’re feeling anxious when you think about me doing my thing, because you need to know that I’m going to be okay. And I appreciate that.

“Right now the thing I need most to guarantee my success is a safe, supportive environment. The only way I can make this thing work is if my energy goes to taking care of myself and my business, and not to external things.

“Which means I need you to be a strong, steady source of support that I can count on. I totally get if you can’t do that right now because you feel anxious — I’m just asking that if you can’t, that you not bring up your worries with me right now.

Because right now I need to grow my thing and take care of myself in a conscious and steady way, without burning out. And in order to do that, I need my focus to be on surrounding myself with things that support me in what I’m doing.”

Principles! We like them.

So yeah.

Both of my answers were kind of the same.

That’s because of the principles involved. As follows.

1. Acknowledge feelings.

Their feelings (the anxiety and worry they have about you being okay).

And also your feelings (frustration).

Sometimes you just acknowledge your own feelings to yourself because they won’t be able to hear it right now. And sometimes you can try to explain it to them.

2. Express needs.

Their needs (to know you’re going to be okay).

But mostly yours (to be supported).

3. Set boundaries

You need support.

If they can give it to you in any form, great. If they can’t, great.

But they are going to have to stop doing things that are actively unsupportive, like telling you that you’re going to end up sleeping in a cardboard box if you don’t listen to them.

Because right now you’re surrounding yourself with support. They can be part of it or they can go away until they’re ready to be part of it.

4. Use feelings words instead of thinking words.

When you say, “I think X”, someone can argue with you and tell you that you should be thinking Y.

When you say, “I feel anxious when I’m not sure if I’m getting the support I need”, no one can argue with you about what you feel.

They can’t tell you that you don’t feel anxious. It’s what you feel and that’s that.

5. Emergency use: the internal-knowing thing.

Okay, this one is tricky. Because some people use the internal-information thing in a slimy way, yes. But it’s still a useful technique.

If you say you meditated on it or you prayed on it, and this is the answer you got from your heart … people can’t argue with that either.

Personally, I would never use this if it weren’t actually true. But yeah, go meditate on it. Go sleep on it. Go ask yourself what the answer is.

And then give it to someone else in a form where they don’t get to argue with it.


It’s all harder than it sounds.

It all takes time.

Eventually (she types hopefully) we’ll get to the point where we care less what they think. That’s the sovereignty part.

In the meantime, we get to work on our stuff in the soft (all the emotional bits) and in the hard (systems!) … and we take lots of notes.

And did I say this part already? Hugs for the hard!

Comment zen:

We’ve all got our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We try to respond to each other with as much kind-hearted understanding as we can stand. Lou Reed lyrics (still) welcome.

The Fluent Self