The Weird Sign You’re On the Right Path

life advice, self-help, lifestyle, motivation, success, inspiration, woman power, self-actualization, happiness

You know the story.  Forces aligned, it was a combination of good timing and hard work, and now you’re receiving that award or writing that book dedication thanking family and friends: “I couldn’t have done it without you.”  And it’s true.  You couldn’t have done it without them.  You needed them, but not in the way you think.

Looking back on some of my more accomplished moments, though I had a lot of support in terms of my happiness,

It was the lack of understanding from family and friends that fueled both my frustration and fire.

It’s happened so often that I’ve taken their blank stares as an indicator that I’m doing something right.  Here’s how to take “no one gets meeeeeeee!” and turn it into success.


When starting out on a project, class, or whatever endeavor, it’s natural to share the news with loved ones.  On a basic level, this happens in conversation: “so what have you been up to?”  More deeply, we’re often seeking validation.  This is especially true of parents.  When it starts to feel like you’re explaining your passions and triumphs to a wall, guess where validation starts to come from?  Yourself.  This means you’re beginning to understand your work on a more nuanced level that is completely over the heads of your family and friends.  It also reinforces that you’re doing this for yourself and no one else.  I used to get really upset when my mom would dismiss my accomplishments.  I’d find my work published in a magazine (OK, it was a zine in a small bookstore on the outskirts of Japan, but STILL), and in the middle of my excitement, she’d get distracted by a gold backpack or something.  After a while, I stopped waiting for her to be proud of me and learned to be proud of myself.  I’m not saying to be passive-aggressive and stop sharing good news, but stop looking outside yourself for applause.  You don’t actually need it.  When you do get it (and you will), it will come from your peers.  And that’s called respect.

Find your people

It’s no one’s job to “get” you.  But it is your job to find people that do.  The hermit who built his or her genius in solitude is a rare case.  Most of us need to collaborate and be inspired by others and their work.  Also, there are always people better than you at what you do.  Find them.  Learn from them.  When your current support circle stops being able to relate, you need to expand in order to progress.  Shortly after publishing one of my first articles, I was talking about it with a friend and she asked me how it felt to write for an audience.  Puzzled, I responded, “well, aren’t we always writing for an audience?”  She said she had no idea, and it hit me that somewhere along the way I’d become a writer, and now needed to find others in the same position to relate to.  This isn’t a case for arrogance.  It is simply acknowledging your expertise and that your skills and creativity will stagnate unless you find others to challenge you.

Get good at explaining yourself

No matter how much you feel something is what you were “meant to do,” there will always be a time in the beginning when it’s new.  And let’s face it, at this point, you’re not good at it yet. You barely “get” it, so other people definitely aren’t going to.  Some pursuits are met with ready support: “When my little sister had meningitis, I saw how life-saving the medical profession was and so I decided I wanted to become a doctor.”  Other notions are less safe:  “I want to start an online clothing rental business with a friend.  We have no money, but think it’s a really good idea, and plus I’ve always wanted to start my own business.”  In either scenario, you are working on your personal elevator speech.  The longer you stick with something, the more people will ask “why?”  That means you get better at explaining – briefly, clearly, all in the time it takes to get to the next floor on an elevator with possibly the person who helps make your next big move.

Toughen up

Anything worth doing is going to be hard.  Your first taste of opposition may actually come from your inner circle.  If it is, consider yourself lucky because it’s great practice for the many hurdles you’ll face on the way to the top.  When I was deep in the weeds of launching a startup, three of my relatives staged an entrepreneur intervention, urging me to stop; that since taking this on, I looked as if I’d aged 100 years.  Their advice came from a place of love, but it still felt like no one was on my side.  And that’s the thing.  There are going to be times where the path is lonely, especially if you’re on the road towards something great.  Every time someone says “no” to you, there’s an opportunity to evaluate their reasoning and either adjust or keep going as you were.  It makes for strong conviction, which is what you need to accomplish big things.

Know what it’s like to “just know”

Have you ever felt like you “just knew” something was the right decision?  Well this is even more intense when preceded by people you love telling you that “you don’t know shit.”  This gut feeling resonates so deep, you’ll be able to call upon it next time you find yourself at a crossroads because it will be familiar.  Conversely, when you don’t have that feeling, it should be an indication that more analysis is required.  It’s an exercise in intuition and is not so different from bowling.  You know how you try to remember the feels of a strike so you can do it again?  What did my arm feel like when it went back?  Where was I looking?  At what point did I feel myself let go of the ball?  Same thing.  You start to understand and speak the language of your inner voice, because in the end, who else should you be listening to anyway?

  • Nicole Parise

    Love this! I am in the middle of switching my profession and this is so great! I am always explaining and it does get tiresome.
    xx nicole

    • Kristen Lem

      Best of luck to you on your transition Nicole !

  • I just recently switched professions and am lucky for all of the support I’ve had while doing it.

  • Joscelyn | Wifemamafoodie

    It’s nice to know we have people around us that have had a hand in helping us get to where we are today. It’s important to have a support system in place that have helped to push us along on our path to success!

  • Blathnaid Prenter

    I really enjoyed this pace – its really different! so inspirational – well written !

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you much for saying that ! I’m so glad you liked it (:

  • Karissa Ancell

    I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that I have to trust that I know what is best for me even when people I love disagree. I had to stop looking to family and friends for approval or I’d never be happy.

    • Kristen Lem

      I couldn’t agree with you more !

  • This is so true! We need to learn to trust our own intuition. I value my friends and familys advice but also value my own!


    • Kristen Lem


  • great post Jennifer….finding your people is so important..I enjoy your posts in the instagram pod!

  • I love this! I have had to learn to toughen up. I used to take everything to heart and now I don’t as often.

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad for you! Same here – gotta get that thick skin.

  • Hyla @hylaandpeterechols.com

    Love the toughen up tip! Its so true though if we want to live in the big world we have to be ok with rejection and not having everyone understand us.

    • Kristen Lem

      So true … and it makes us stronger. Glad you liked this !

  • LoveinTheAirForce

    I’m living this since none of my friends are military SOs or spouses, so a lot of the time it seems like I’m speaking a foreign language to them, so I’m CONSTANTLY explaining and trying to find my cyber-tribe of other milsos….

    • Kristen Lem

      I hope you are able to find a group to support you. Much love and luck to you

  • Nicole D’Amato

    I love these tips! Especially the one about self-validating. I’ve totally been in the spot where I’m excited to tell someone my accomplishment and they’re less then enthusiastic and I get hurt. But you’re totally right! I need to start self validating and toughen up 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    xo Nicole

    • Kristen Lem

      I’m so glad this resonated with you and that you’ll continue to find that voice in yourself to give you support (:

  • prettyandfun

    This post is so on point. With maturity comes the realization that when all is said and done, we have to value our own opinions, and trust our instincts. Kudos from others may be nice, but what really matters is how much we value ourselves.

    • Kristen Lem

      I love your comment about maturity – so true!

  • Carrie Chady Rundhaug

    You are so right about these. The biggest one of these is self validate. That is so important to getting on the right path and staying on the right path.

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad you agree!

  • Marta Nightingale

    You came with right conclusions. I read somewhere that the happiest people always coount only at themselves and aren’t expecting support from others, i.e. when it comes, it’s a perk

    • Kristen Lem

      Totally! I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s always great when I get support and positive feedback, but it’s never the driving force.

  • DogVills

    I totally agree! I need to learn how to toughen up, great tips!

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad you found encouragement here !

  • Kimberly Lewis (Lou Lou Girls)


  • I really loved reading this+ it’s a good reminder to believe in yourself and not look for validation from everyone else to do what you love.

    • Kristen Lem

      Yes Ellie yes ! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this.

  • ohmummymia

    Awesome tips. I love that post

  • Great tips especially “Get good at explaining yourself”

  • Nicky Peters

    Such a great post filled with insightful tips! Will definitely read this over a few times! Thank you for sharing!

    • Kristen Lem

      You are so welcome Nicky! Glad you’ll continue to reference this (:

  • Bill S

    Finding your people can be so important!! I love this, its crazy some of the things that happen on your path in life.

    • Kristen Lem

      Yes Yes ! So happy you relate Bill

  • DT

    Love this post… Great advice (I can relate to a lot in this post)

    — DT | Here I Scribble

    • Kristen Lem

      SO glad you can related and liked the post. Thank you !

  • Aziel Morte

    Great tips/guides! Thanks for this post 🙂

    • Kristen Lem

      You’re welcome! And thank you for the compliment

  • Veethee Dixit

    This is so inspiring. I really needed to hear this!

    • Kristen Lem

      thanks so much, and glad I could be your words of inspiration for today (:

  • Such an inspiring post! Great reminders for all of us as self-doubt often creeps in.
    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

    • Kristen Lem

      So glad to have inspired you!

  • Great advice! I was thinking about elevator speeches, and how to truly get your point across in a matter of a few sentences. An important skill to practice, blessings!

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you !

  • So inspiring! I know how it feels when your family and friends don’t really “get it”, while you are so excited. Well, my gut feeling is always my guide and I am always prepared to face the difficulties. I guess I have toughen up through the years. 🙂

    • Kristen Lem

      Seems like you have! Good for you!

  • Dia

    It is so important to find your tribe for sure. I know my friends and family want to be supportive but just don’t totally understand what in the world I’m doing with this “blogging thing.” Great post!

    • Kristen Lem

      Thank you !

  • Anamika Ojha

    Very Inspiring post! Do things in which you believe in and that gives you happiness! Don’t bother about anyone who discourage or doesn’t support you as you’re your own army!

    • Kristen Lem

      RIght on! So glad you found inspiration here (:

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    I love this post! I have a small group that I call my tribe. It is good to find a solid group to be around

    • Kristen Lem

      Ahh lucky you – that is great to hear !

  • This is the most inspiring story i have read in the morning today. Thanks for written and made my entire day.

    • Kristen Lem

      You just made my day Savita! Thank you for the kind words and glad to have inspired you (:

      • 🙂 It’s me pleasure @kristenlem:disqus

  • I love this list! I for one am doing many things right now (moving overseas, blogging, etc) that seem risky. And yet like in your post, I just know … and I can explain it to people.


    • Kristen Lem

      TOTALLY. Love and luck to you in your new adventures (:

  • Marceline Dementori

    We should never let people affect us especially when we know that we’re on the right track to whatever we want to achieve in life. Loving these tips!

    • Kristen Lem

      So happy you enjoyed these tips! Love and luck to you on your path (:

  • Mary Welby

    This is a fantastic list. I’m learning how to trust my first instinct….to just know. I seem to get these vibes from people, but continue to give them the benefit of the doubt only to prove the vibes right.

    • Kristen Lem

      Mmm hmm Mary. glad you liked this (: keep trusting in you !

  • Self love has a lot to do with us not looking for someone else’s approval. It may seem like we’re not doing things right but in the end you’ll realize that you’ve been right all along. These are so true, I totally agree with these signs.

    • Kristen Lem

      Word Mai !!

  • Well written!! Very inspirational post. Amazing tips! Love it ;-))) So true…

  • DhiniNL | Dhinivh

    They are great list! Thank you for sharing this tips


  • Alissa Carpenter

    I love your advice! 2 and 4 totally hit home! http://www.notokthatsokcoach.com

  • Love your post .. and the list is so well thought out. My little voice rarely swears me wrong.

  • Shannon Paige

    This is truly great advice. I am having such a similar situation right now where I am kind of afraid to tell my mom about a new opportunity I just got just because it is not 100% “practical.” Yet i just have this “feeling,”like you explained, that I need to take it. Meanwhile I had the same feeling with telling my boyfriend and he was 100% supportive and told me I could “shine shoes for all I care, as long as you love what you are doing, and are not sacrificing too much money wise.” It meant a lot to hear him say that and made me realize that often times, we are more critical about what we “think” people will say in support/opposition of our plans, than they usually are. I liked how you said that sometimes the path will be lonely, it is comforting to know that that is okay and normal, and should not stop you. *thegoodthingscomin.wordpress.com

  • Isobel

    It’s amazing how much parental approval influences what we do, even without realising it! So much more fun to make like Moana and follow the voice inside though! Thanks for an inspiring post 🙂

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