The Courageous Conversations to Have with Your Partner about Your Ambitions
Friend, are you ambitious but afraid to go after your wildest dreams because of what your partner might think or say? Do you ever think you’re “too much” for them? Do you feel scared to listen to that inner voice of yours telling you to go after what you really want but find yourself holding back because you’re afraid your partner may not support your ambition?
You are not alone
There are a number of reasons why we may hold back from expressing how we really feel about our dreams and ambitions. I’ve been married for sixteen years and sometimes I still think I am “too much.” Here’s the thing, what I’ve learned is that I am not “too much” thank you very much. My “too muchness” is a gift and I’ve learned to embrace it. My “too muchness” is what keeps me and my family very hopeful. Over the last several years, I realized that in order for my ambitions to become a reality, I would need to have some courageous conversations with my husband AND my children. I was nervous, but I knew by having these conversations I would feel better and excited to once and for all do what I’ve been destined to do.
For me, it wasn’t just acknowledging that I felt scared to have conversations around my ambitions, but it went deeper than that, it was important for me to understood why I was scared and nervous in the first place. It’s my curiosity that gets me asking the why questions and I’m glad because it gives me a reason to do my research (on myself) and that’s what I’ve been doing the last 6 years and wish to share what I’ve found–perhaps it can help you if you are ambitious and in a similar situation as me.
In the midst of our day to day lives
it’s easy to not stop and think about the emotions that come up for us and why we feel nervous or scared about our big God-like goals. Our society, our culture, our conditioned beliefs can keep us from understanding the real reasons we are fearful, even of our own dreams and desires. And, when we don’t take the time to dig deep, it can very well keep us in this stagnant-like energy and scarcity mindset.
My self-discovery journey has taught me this…understanding our limiting beliefs can give us much clarity. Clarity connects us to our purpose. When I learned that I had a self-limiting belief around the area of success, I learned why I was nervous and scared to talk about my wildest goals with the one person who I trusted the most. To the one person that I knew would be the easiest person to talk to, yet I found myself holding back. I was nervous to say what I wanted to say because I knew if my partner supported my goals, it would become real for me. I knew if my partner said yes to support me, it would mean CHANGE was on the horizon. Change was the real reason why I was scared. Losing control of the “comfortable” and “safe” life was scary.
Now, on the flip side, I also knew that if my partner did NOT support me and my ambitions, CHANGE was also on the horizon. Was I willing to sacrifice my dreams for a “safe” life together? Was I willing to suppress my emotions of hope and happiness with the work that I really wanted to create? Was suppressing even an option or would I be reminded every day of my life that I was not walking in my truth and purpose and if I did that, would that then slowly start to cripple me? Was I willing to sit back and let opportunities pass me by because of the lack of support from my partner? Was I willing to give him an ultimatum to choose me or a safe life? Can I build up the courage to have conversations about this?
These are the kind of questions that can very well come up for ambitious souls in a partnership. They sure did for me. I’ve found a way to avoid the ultimatum and very eloquently and straight forwardly have conversations on how we can make my ambitions and our partnership work.
Before I go there, it is important to mention that my “too muchness” along with my partner’s stability and maturity is the glue to our oneness as a partnership and a family. I say this because for those of us looking for the support and acceptance from our partners, it is important to look at the totality of who we are and who they are during the times we have our courageous conversations. Are they in a capacity to understand us? My husband was not as mature sixteen years ago, and neither was I. As a young girl I have had a mentality of think bigger, better and differently. My husband knew this about me early on. What we did not know is this mentality would remain and come up often in my life with everything I got involved in. Lucky him! 😉 To be fair, lucky me too that he matured throughout the years and has been able to understand my visions as we evolved.
For context, my ambitions have been to start a business (or two) and these conversations with my partner started happening about a decade ago, but the conversations got more serious about five years ago at age 31. Between then and now, we make sure to create the time to revisit these conversations because every time, it leads to new perspective shifting and understanding in the phase of our lives that we are in.
The questions that lead to important conversations between my partner and me.
Question one, me to my partner: Can you support me?
Note: Support can mean many things for many people. Here are two ways “support” looked like for me:
- Can you support me emotionally?
- Can you support me financially while I go from full-time to part-time work?
Emotionally: Looking for comfort when it gets hard. I also asked my partner not to give up on me, and when it looked like I wanted to quit, I asked him to keep me accountable. This was the emotional support I needed and still do.
Financially: For many aspiring entrepreneurs, scaling back from full-time to part-time work is ideal (but not always necessary). Very important to have a plan here. I have done both, leaving a job too soon (no plan) and going back to a job (with a plan) to eventually scale back again. During this time of transition, it was important to know that my partner was on board to help me with this change. He picked up extra hours at work, he picked up a few weekend gigs and I did what I could to supplement income with my business. If your partner is not in a position to support you during a transition like this, which was also the case for us at some points in our lives, the next question became: what can we both do to create a healthier financial plan?
This definitely sparks up a conversation! For us it’s important to think in terms of, what can we ADD as additional income that can help move us forward. There’s something about ADDING to our income that feels expansive versus cutting back, feels scarce. Not to say we do not cut back when necessary, but we’ve learned that if we are in a mindset of expansion, adding income teaches us creative ways to welcome and receive abundance, it’s not easy, but it is doable. When it becomes doable once, it can become doable many times. When it becomes doable many times, it becomes a habit and habits shape our lives. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Question two, me to my partner: What do you need from me to gain your support?
I know it’s not easy for someone like my partner who thrives in traditional 9-5 work, who loves routine and appreciates systems and processes to then fully support someone who is the complete opposite…like me. You feel me? Does this sound like your partner too?
So, this question is important because you get to understand each other’s perspective. I know why my partner thrives in this kind of environment and he understands why I don’t. Asking the question about what our partner needs from us is a real game changer because we learn what they need to “buy into” our ambitions. This is what came up for my partner…
- “I’d like to know your plan”
- “I’d like to know what’s going to make your business successful”
- “I’d like to know if you will be able to follow through with this idea”
So, I proved over and over again that I had and continue to have what it takes to have these three needs checked off. To be able to do work that I truly love and be able to be stepping into my truth everyday with my partner is so liberating. Did I always have a plan? No! But I had the tenacity to find a way when the plan was not in my favor. When I discovered that I could actually create something out of nothing, make sales and handle my business was a day I will never forget. Making five figures in one day was a day I will never forget (we both happy danced.)
Ask your partner what they need from YOU and try, try very hard not to take it personal or get on the defense if they actually come up with a list for you. I took it personal for a hot minute, like, “how dare he not trust that I can follow through,” but then I learned how to use his list as fuel and accountability for myself. Give them results just like you would a business partner. Here’s another advantage, the more they know about your business, the more your partner can get you business—literally! They become your #1 unpaid business supporter. 😉 I cannot stress this enough…DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO. If it doesn’t work out, try again until it does, if of course, you feel you still want to and not because you feel like you have to prove your partner wrong.
I learned that if you have someone in your corner cheering you on, such as your partner or a friend, it feels great to prove them RIGHT. If proving someone wrong works for you, go for it, if it serves as your motivation, go for it, no judgment here. However, if you feel like you don’t have someone of support in your corner, guess what? You have yourself and proving yourself right changes you, in a really good way.
Question three, me to my partner: What scares you the most about my ambitions?
Note: Getting to understand our partner’s limiting beliefs is also key. This conversation can help expand the thinking around what’s possible in a partnership and a family (if you have children.) This is what came up for my partner:
- “If you get burned, I get burned.”
- “I don’t want you to get taken advantage of.”
Who I do business with is VERY important to my partner, doing business with the wrong people will feel like a low blow and he’s not sure how he would handle that, or if he could even handle that without losing his S#$T! My partner used to strongly feel like women were easily taken advantage of in business, getting the short end of the stick.
These concerns are understandable. Like a parent or someone who loves you, what they want is to protect you. I get it. So, I proceeded with caution (most of the time). Did I get burned? Heck yeah, I did. Was I given the short end of the stick on deals? Yes. I’m the first to admit, being a woman changes the dynamic, especially when I was first starting out in male dominated industries. But guess what? We both got through these challenges, and they became lessons. The defeats although not easy, have made me more resilient, stronger and smarter about business. There’s still plenty of room for growth. Trust me when I say there were some deflating moments. Did I prove my partner’s fears right? Yep, sure did! But the beautiful thing here is we helped each other in the difficult times, and getting through is what helped his thinking about women in business. Now he feels women are transforming the landscape of business. Changing the way business is done, and since he feels this way, he is more comfortable letting me continue while the iron is hot. Phew! Thank you, other ambitious women for paving the way!
For those of you with children
Here’s a tip…talk to them too! I used to hold back because I didn’t want them to think “mommy was all over the place” but as soon as I let them in on what I was up to, they bought into it too, and they would, and still do, hold me accountable. My children holding me accountable gives me the motivation and fuel I need on the hardest days. I know my reasons for wanting what I want and why, and now that they do too, we find ourselves dreaming bigger, talking about and visualizing our future, and there is no better feeling in the world. The family that manifests together, grows together.
If you are scared to have the courageous conversations, please know that I am rooting for you. I hope you find this blog helpful and useful. Only you know deep down what is best for you and your partner –if you find that you need to look deeper within to find the root of what is keeping you feeling stuck, I invite you to visit Emerge Mastermind: A Mastermind I have created to hold space for ambitious women. If you want to reach out to me personally, please send me a direct message to @ColibriAndCo or reach me via email: email@example.com.
Cheering you on!