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I’m preparing to launch a new nonprofit organization in Austin this week focused on supporting parents of teens; the underlying premise: community is medicine.  I have many motivations for starting this initiative, but ultimately I have experienced how life-changing it can be to have a support network when going through a challenging life stage. 

But asking for and receiving support wasn’t always this natural for me.

The week before finals my freshman year in college, my dad had a massive heart attack. I was devastated (as was my entire family). And what really saddens me as I look back on that rough time was that I didn’t ask for support. Other than sharing the news with one close friend, I kept my feelings, fears and needs to myself, donned my armor and marched straight into my exams as unprepared as anyone would be who didn’t know if their parent was going to make it to the next day. I think I failed all but one of my tests.

Every week our career coaching team supports mid to senior level professionals from around the world on career changes, job searches and identifying, finding and creating work that fits them inside and out. Over the years, we’ve observed that people who are comfortable asking for and receiving help—whether that’s from a coach, a therapist, a mentor, professional organization, business partner, neighbor, friend or colleague—experience greater success and feel more connected and confident in all areas of their lives. Having a support system can have a huge impact on how you experience day-to-day life.

Research shows that individuals who have robust support systems:

  • are more effective at work and at home (they feel as if they have a “team” behind them and that they’re not all alone)
  • keep resolutions, particularly those involving their health and physical well-being
  • weather personal and professional challenges more easily
  • are less likely to feel overwhelmed and find it easier to maintain perspective
  • stay healthier on all levels—mentally, physically and emotionally
  • are less likely to feel isolated (isolation can lead to feelings of despair and failure) and experience less stress and burnout
  • have children who are comfortable asking for and receiving support and help from others

Learning to get comfortable asking for and receiving help takes serious practice. But it’s not just acceptable to need others; it’s in our nature to give and receive help. We are meant to experience community and connection, to lean on and into each other, not just when things get tough — but every day!

Check out Ch. 10 on Building a Support Network from my newest life balance book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, for a powerful exercise guiding you through how to build your own personal and professional support network. Then take a few minutes and work on this guided journaling exercise from this same chapter.

Building a Support System: A Journaling Exercise~ Close your eyes for a minute and place one hand over the center of your chest. Take a deep breath. Observe with curiosity and compassion whatever “asking for help” stirs up for you. When you’re ready, answer the following:

1. What would it look like to take the first steps toward allowing support into my life?
2. How would it feel to be more supported — personally and professionally — in all areas of my life?
3. How might my family life and relationship shift if I began to ask for and receive more support?

Support is here! Here are five ways to  start asking for/receiving help today:

  • Join (or become certified to facilitate) a Personal Renewal Group for women based on our award-winning curriculum
  • Receive career coaching or life balance support from our Senior Career Coach
  • Sign up for one of my self-renewal tele-courses and learn at your own pace OR pick up one of my books 
  • Join me for a one-day or weekend retreat and learn how to practice this skill with like-minded women
  • Schedule me to speak to your organization/employees in 2016-2017 on “Building a Support Network”

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.

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