Looking back at the various self-created roadblocks along my journey, failing to build my own support network was one of the biggest challenges that held me back. For most things in my life, I had looked to my family to be a source of support, although the results were usually mixed at best, disastrous at worst. It took me ages to realize that everyone, yes – even my own family members, had an agenda of sorts. My parents wanted me to have a stable and reliable way to support myself; my siblings were split – some were right there with me, others were a bit skeptical, but it was so far from what they were pursuing individually, that it was difficult for them to relate or spend the time to understand. All reasonable and “good” concerns – they were coming from a place of love, but in my eyes, my family’s brand of support had been unintentionally holding me back for many years.
Until… there was a big fight. A fight that was completely unrelated, but it gave me the space to step away and do things without the safety of my family network. I didn’t want to turn to my family for support, I wanted to stop having to explain myself – I needed to find someone who actually understood what I was trying to do. I wanted to feel energized and excited when I started talking about my dreams – not drained, silly, or ridiculous. I needed to find just one person who had done it before or knew things about the new world I wanted to step into – if was her world, she would be able to provide me unbiased support.
I needed my own posse of mini “yes men” to help me get off the ground, so I built it.
I set out to build my own support network. For a gal who’s a bit introverted and terrified of putting herself out there, let’s just say this was a bigger task than I ever imagined.
I started small – sharing my intentions with people I already knew – those who had been supportive to me in the past. I finally said, out-loud, what I wanted to do. It was my gauge, perhaps my screening process. When I met potential supporters, I let it all hang out – I exposed my dream for what it was and with confidence, versus cowering in fear. I had to give myself a pep talk each time: “It’s ok if they laugh, that just means they’re not part of the posse right now.” And let me tell you, there were a few people who guffawed at me, so I moved on to someone else. When I had my friends on board, I expanded my network.
I started following bloggers who had successfully followed their own path. I used their stories, postings, books, etc. as inspiration. And I also included them in my virtual support network. There were a few that I had the nerve to contact, but even if I never contacted them, I was able to gain their support and positive influence just by reading their words and being a fan.
But the biggest building block to my support network was that I finally realized is that I needed to be my best supporter. I had to fully believe in myself and my dream, for others to want to support me – I wasn’t being my own yes man… how could I expect others to do that, if I wasn’t sure myself? I needed to be fully on-board, living in the “I may be crazy but I’m going after it anyway” frame of mind. And when I did that, I was ALL-IN and started doing, versus just thinking about it all.
And guess what – when I went back to my family a few weeks later, they were supportive. Not the “I’m humoring you so you’ll get on board” support, but truly supportive. It was never about them, it was about me finding the right people to balance the support I needed at that specific time. It started with me being supportive of my dream and vision without fear that allowed me to brush off the concerns that did not fit into my plan. My family are now the first people to comment on a post, send me positive reinforcements, and keep me going when I hit a dip – crazy, right?
If you feel stuck or stagnant, look around you – do you have the right posse? Have you tried changing it up?
- Start small – share your intentions with people you already know
- Research people who have followed their own path, read and learn and soak in as much of their positivity as you can
- But your brave face on, and reach out to them
- Fully support yourself – it’s YOUR dream after all