In May 2017, I flew to Belize to see if it could be my next home base.
The experience, the islands, the people and the beautiful Caribbean did not disappoint one bit!
However, what confounded me was the overabundance (and variety) of opinions I received from mere strangers.
Everyone I met wanted to share their opinions about living in Belize.
When I was in Caye Caulker (a tiny island visited by lots of backpackers), I was told it was by far the best place to settle.
The expats I met told me I would absolutely hate Ambergris Caye (my next stop) as it was crowded, dirty and the traffic was unbearable.
Granted, I arrived in Ambergris Caye to plenty of traffic, but there were also beautiful beaches and more restaurants and stores than I could count.
However, on day one I met a woman who told me it was the murder capital of the world (it's not) and another person said there are no affordable apartments (not true) and the locals aren't friendly (totally ridiculous).
By the time I arrived in Placencia, my final stop, my head was spinning.
The expats who live along this 17 miles of tropical peninsula think their area is by far the best.
I met a number of Americans and Canadians who've made Placencia their home and none of them could imagine living in either Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye.
So who is right? Who is telling the truth?
THEY ALL ARE!
That's right, they are speaking their truth. Their perceptions. Their reality.
But that doesn't mean it has to be my truth.
How many times have you let other people's opinions, or perceptions, affect your reality?
Don't get me wrong, reviews can come in handy when you're looking for a restaurant, movie, store or hotel and invaluable when you need a service or want to buy a high-ticket course or coaching program.
The opinions of others can save us a lot of time, money and aggravation!
But what if you are in the process of making a change, creating something new or working on your big dream? Should we listen then? Should we let others influence our perceptions?
Perceptions are your view of the world around you. You (and only you) have this unique window into the world that is your reality.
That's PRETTY COOL if you really think about it!
But what if you don't like what you see?
Imagine stopping at a seaside lookout point and dropping a couple quarters into one of those large binocular viewers. You peer into the lenses only to see the details of a large gray rock sitting in the surf just off shore.
When you try to move the binoculars, they won't budge. You are stuck looking at the rock until your time runs out.
In the meantime, the guy next to you is peering into his binoculars and commenting on the beautiful shoreline, the flocks of seagulls and even the frolicking dolphins they see in the distance.
The only difference between you and him is that your sights were stuck on one thing, which in this case, limited your perception of everything in the distance.
So what would happen if you found another lens to peer through?
You could easily change your view, which would change your perception of everything in the distance. Therefore, it's entirely possible to change your reality with just a minor adjustment.
And often, it only takes a minor adjustment to make a major change!
So before you decide to accept something as your reality, fix your binoculars, or at least clean the lenses.
I love this quote from the English playwright, George Bernard Shaw: "Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you see the whole world."
Here are 5 key tips to help you decide if someone else's opinions should influence your own:
Go ahead, take a leap. Explore. Create new perceptions that will undoubtedly alter your reality. It's time to get those BIG dreams under way!
So what did I decide would be my truth? My reality? I chose Ambergris Caye as my tropical home for the next two years.
It was heavenly and I’m so glad I chose the place that felt right to me!