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Do you know why you should build a support network?
Do you even know who that would be in your life? Or how they could help you?
It’s not easy to tackle a big dream alone. And it is your dream, so sometimes you might feel like you have to go it alone. But wise and successful people hardly ever even begin a big project without first lining up their resources and the biggest one is usually their support network. They all realized long ago that they couldn’t do it alone.
A support network is the circle of people who support and help you on your journey to whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. They can be friends and family, They can be co-workers, a business mentor, or a coach. They can even be people you’ve never met and never will. What makes them your support network is that they bring their own skills and resources to help you towards your goal.
Members of your support network aren’t just about holding your hand and encouraging you along the way, though that certainly is a valuable contribution to your success. We all need cheerleaders, right? And someone whose shoulder you can cry on when things go sideways?
Creating a support network for yourself will help increase your odds of success through:
Just knowing that someone has your back makes it easier to handle the inevitable setbacks along the way. When you share the bumps along the way with people on your team, you don’t have to carry the stress alone. And that emotional support makes you more likely to regroup and get back on track.
No matter how many time management strategies, goals, and tasks you put into place, if you don’t stick to doing the work, you’ll never see your plans succeed. A good support network keeps you accountable because you need to keep them updated on your progress. If things are going well, they congratulate you. If they’re going badly, they help you back on track. And if you’re not doing your part, a good support network is going to (gently) rap your knuckles and remind you why you’re doing this thing. Accountability is powerful and has a huge impact on success.
Knowledge and Experience
While cheerleaders are wonderful, at least some of the members of your support network should be experts. They are going to be the mentors, the coaches, the people who have already forged the path you’re starting on. Their knowledge will guide you in creating a plan that makes sense and their experience will help you find your way out of problems as they arise.
Don’t have someone like that in your life? No worries, I’ll show you where to find them.
Sharing the fun of your goal
Big goals are just more fun when you share them with people. They become more real in your mind and everyone in your support network is invested in seeing it through. When your support network is filled with positive and enthusiastic people, the whole journey is like a party. And why shouldn’t big life changes be fun, especially when you share them with friends?
So how do you go about building a support network for yourself?
1. Think back to a time in your life when you were most successful.
Who was in your support network then? What did they do for you and how did it help you? These are the qualities you are looking for in creating a new support network.
2. Talk to your family and close friends and tell them about your plans.
Let them see how much this means to you and how committed you are and let them offer to help you. Encourage them to brainstorm benefits and possible problems and solutions to your goals. If they can get on board with you now, you’re already starting off with people in your corner.
3. Get together with close friends, especially those you might’ve already confided in.
Ask them to brainstorm ways you can get more support and encourage suggestions and strategies they may see from their own point of view. Be sure to offer your own help for their goals in life. Ask them who they have in their own support network and why they chose them. Keep the momentum going by committing to be accountable.
4. Put yourself out there and check out local support groups, locally or online.
Meetup.com has casual meeting groups for just about anything you can think of. A quick search of my local meetup showed dozens of groups for things like Sports & Fitness, Learning, Photography, Writing, Language & Culture, Music, Tech, Beliefs, Social, Career & Business, and movements of every type. You can attend a few and even host your own to get to know people better.
Check out Toastmasters, Women in Business and other local groups that support people in all kinds of endeavors. The groups themselves are a huge help, but the people you meet and make friends with could become ideal members of our support network.
5. Look at local leaders in the field or area your goal connects to.
Push yourself and arrange meetings with these people. Ask them who helped them when they were first starting out. If you feel a rapport, ask them if they’d be willing to mentor you. You’ll be surprised at how often the answer will be yes because they want to pass the favor on and because they’re flattered to be asked. And when they say yes, make a plan to meet with them and for accountability. Check out various support groups locally and on the Internet. Examples include Parent Groups, Women in Business, Toastmasters, Guilds, Church, Chambers of Commerce, some church groups, etc.
6. Consider hiring a coach.
Coaching is not just for athletes. Personal coaches specialize in virtually everything and it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that can help you in your own direction. Prices vary but coaches are talented at helping you identify what problems you need the most help with and can help you refocus and make a plan to move forward.
7. Let virtual coaches inspire and guide you.
No, don’t worry. I’m not going all woo-woo on you. By virtual, I mean people who are experts in their field and who teach large groups of people online. In my work, for example, I have 6 women who are a huge influence on my business. One has become one of my closest friends and we talk or text nearly every day. I’ve spoken to another a handful of times. The other 4 don’t even know I’m alive. That’s all 6 of their beautiful faces below.
And here’s the thing.
I’ve never met a single one of them in person.
Lisa and I became friends through courses and Facebook groups and we became part of each other’s support network over time. But she lives in another part of the world and I’m a 10-hour difference, giving new importance to my getting up early. But she’s the first person I reach for when I have a problem and I do the same for her.
Jeni is a big name in blogging and many of the big changes in Plotting A New Course are due to my taking an intensive program from her. I’m in her mastermind group and continue to learn from her and other brilliant women bloggers on a daily basis.
The other 4 women, those who don’t know me from Adam, are well known and brilliant at their craft. You might even recognize some of them.
Their gift is in communicating what they know to their audience and I’m an avid student.
One of them sends out daily emails that are themselves so smart and so filled with knowledge that I literally get up every morning reaching for my inbox to see what else she’s going to teach me.
Every day, when I start working, I glance at that photo of the women I consider my friends and mentors, even if they’ve never met me. They always have my answers and I know they’ve got my back.
Who can be that for you? Are there blogs you gravitate to? Books about your dream destination that resonate with you?
Ah yes, books! Don’t forget books as mentors. They can teach you, motivate you, and inspire you. And some of the smartest authors I know also have websites and blogs. And podcasts! There are so many motivating and teaching podcasts out there and they’re free, and great way to fill your commute to work.
Look around and find the people who can help you as mentors, as cheerleaders, as therapists, as coaches, and as dispensers of tough love. They will make an awesome support network to get you to the finish line.
Don’t forget to download The 31-Day Intentional Mindset Workbook, free when you join the Plotting A New Course community.