Create the Life You Desire with the Help of Your Support Network
by Jamie Spannhake
October 19, 2019
As I prepare for my first book talk and signing at my book launch party later this week, I am reflecting on the process of writing, developing, publishing, and promoting The Lawyer, the Lion, & the Laundry. It would not have been possible without my support network – my group of friends and colleagues. There were friends who picked up the slack when I was running late for school pickup. My ex-husband kept our daughter for some overnights so I could work late into the evening. The editors of the book spent many hours honing the language and correcting errant typos. My designer created beautiful images, titles, and marketing materials. And my dear girl friends shared glasses of wine and cups of coffee as part of focus groups, idea generation, or just a safe place to vent about whatever was not going well. I always knew that no one succeeds alone, but this process made it absolutely clear.
One of the chapters in my book is entitled “Ask for Help,” which is one of the actions I explore in the book to help you have the life you want. The goals of asking for help are to define, create, and utilize your support network. I am so glad I had already created my support network so it was in place when I needed it. When I say a “support network,” I mean a group of people who support one another and make room for every member of the network. For some people, this can be family members; for others, it can be friends; and for others, it could be paid support, like a nanny, housekeeper, or personal assistant. I have all of those people in my support network.
Think about all the people in your life who are geographically close to you, and list them out. These are the potential members of your support network:
School teachers and staff
Paid support and services
Think about all the responsibilities that you must handle, and determine if anyone in your support network could handle those responsibilities occasionally, or regularly, depending upon the amount of help you need or want. For example, would it make life easier if you and another parent took turns each week driving your and her kids to school or after-school activities? If a dog walker took your dogs on a hike once a week? If you could rely on a neighbor to get your kids off the school bus when you are running late?
Remember that being a member of a support network means that you support others, too. Don’t just be a taker; also give. This has often caused me to hesitate. I know I will be expected to participate, and I do not have the extra time. But remember that giving does not necessarily mean giving of your time. There are many ways to give: words of thanks and kindness; small tokens of appreciation, like a handwritten thank-you note or small gift card to a local coffee shop; just being a friend and talking together; or payment if a member of your network is someone you hire like a nanny, housekeeper, dog walker, or driver.
Think of how a support network could help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed. Take the time to set it up, and benefit from it immediately, and when you really need it.