A proud child of the eighties, I’m sometimes reminded of that Whitesnake song, “Here I go again on my own. Going down the only road I’ve ever known. Like a drifter I was born to walk alone!” Oh dang, now I’m not going to be able to stop humming it all day long…
Catchy huh? Except for the fact that the songwriter was more concerned with finding the perfect rhyme than sharing an important truth about life.
Develop a support network
Which brings me to the point of today’s blog: how to develop a support network. It’s an important aspect of health and well-being. Cultivating a robust support network is an important ingredient in the multifaceted recipe of resilience. Heck, it’s an important part of having a joyful and productive life. We need people – to support us, to guide us, to mentor us, to teach us, to provoke us, to help us think. And most importantly in my husband’s case, to kill bugs and take out the trash.
Access the strength of your existing network
But I digress. Let’s do a simple exercise now. I want you to grab a piece of paper and write down all the supportive people in your life. These may be people in your personal life, these may be people in your work life. These are the people you can go to with issues, with the big grappling problems of life. They are the people that listen, that pick you up when you are down, that offer helpful advice (but don’t overdo it), these are the people that “get” you.
What do you notice about your list? There’s no right or wrong by the way. There’s no magic number of folks one should have. (Okay for you really quantitative people it’s 3.) The key is whether you’ve got all the bases covered – emotional, spiritual, professional. Are there folks on this list you can regularly go to for help in navigating all these aspects of life?
To the extent there are – wonderful. Are you reaching out to them on a regular basis? Or are you too afraid to ask for help? Perhaps you don’t want to bother them, you know they’re busy. But if they’re on the list they care about little old you and connecting with you will be a priority. That’s kind of how you know they should be on your list…
Fill the gaps!
If you came up lacking, what do you need to do to start to fill that support network gap? Maybe it’s looking for a few professional mentors to guide you along the way. Everyone needs their own version of Yoda. Mine is a crazy Scottish guy with a lazy eye (this is how he refers to himself just in case you were wondering). Or perhaps it’s developing a deeper relationship with a spiritual guide such as a pastor, coach or friend that can help you navigate the deeper questions of life: What’s my purpose? Why am I here? What do I really want out of life? How do I define success?
We often just take our support network, or lack of one, as a given. It’s either there or not there but there’s not much we can consciously do about it. Hogwash I say. Just like anything in life, this can be consciously created if we understand the gaps and set an intention to do something about it.
So, who will you reach out to today for the problem you’ve been avoiding?
Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them. Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!