How to Build a Support System from the Ground Up
Establishing a support system isn’t something one often considers when starting college. However, there is no better time to start. After all, many of the pieces will already be in place. The friends and family you keep with you lead the way, but you’ll also need to be open to new faces and experiences. In the following article, we’ll be showing you how to build a support system that helps you get more out of college (and life in general).
Before we begin, though, it’s important to envision what life is like without one. No person is an island, nor should they try to be one. If that’s the direction you’re going, then get ready for a lot of stagnation and loneliness. There are three outcomes, in particular, that make this the less desirable option.
You Do Shoddy Work
Without a support system, the quality of your work will suffer. It will suffer because demands only grow as you move further into your career and life. Adding family, friends, events, and other obligations will start to crowd out the time you have to put your best foot forward. Support groups help you cope with these pressures even if it feels they are a time expense you can’t afford. Ignore these needs at your own peril, or get with the program and find time for them.
You Fall Down Rabbit Holes
One distinct problem you will encounter as you go without one is an inherent lack of focus. This lack of focus can be very deceiving. It can deceive by making you think you’re getting work done when you’re really just staying busy with things that are unrelated to the objective at hand. These rabbit holes of information and knowledge might be helpful in the long run, but you’ll never get to their usefulness if you’re unable to balance current obligations. A successful life and career is all about being able to put the right pieces in the right place at the right time.
You Throw in the Towel
Throwing in the towel is that well-worn symbol of surrender that shows you’ve had enough. You’re defeated. You can go no further. There are many reasons you might start to feel and act this way, including the two we have already mentioned. But when you have people in your corner keeping you from that decision, you’re able to accomplish far more than you could alone. People who participate in sports understand this, and they also know that support system can be cooperative or adversarial just as long as the support group pushes you to the best of your abilities.
Now that you know what can happen without the right support system in place, it’s time to consider what you should be doing to make it happen for you.
Yes, you do need to take action. The good news, as we’ve already alluded, is that some of this action has already been taken for you through the simple act of living your life and evaluating your world. Once you know to be conscientious and purposeful about it, that’s very easy to build upon. So, as you begin, keep the following 7 actions in mind and accept nothing less than the best!
1. Determine What You Need from It
No support system is worth anything if you are unsure of why you have it in the first place. For it to do its job, you need a clear idea of the problem and an intended solution. These help you communicate to the people within your support system as well.
Communication is valuable because it can be hard helping someone you care about when unable to get a reading on where their needs are. Over time, it can put a significant strain on any relationship. So, before you start rallying the troops around your cause, make sure you have one! If you don’t have one, get one! Journal, meditate, pray. Do whatever you need to do to communicate your needs.
2. Decide What You Can Contribute
Relationships are really transactions. Think about it. You don’t want to be a part of anyone’s life if all they ever do is take and take and take from you. That gets old quickly, and it builds resentment. In the same way, you can’t expect people to want to help you if you offer nothing in return.
Yes, that sounds pretty mercenary. But don’t let it intimidate you from being a good person. Oftentimes, that’s all it takes to hold up your end of the bargain. That you are kind and helpful to others when those opportunities arise. Do your best to be that type of person, and you will never have a hard time finding others willing to offer their support.
3. Find Others With Like Goals
Your support system doesn’t necessarily have to be made up of your closest family and friends. In fact, you could build a healthy one just by targeting people with the same goals. When it comes to learning a second language, maybe partner up with others in your specific class or classes from other schools that are of a comparable skill level.
You have no shortage of people to choose from. You don’t have to watch the same movies or read the same books. Just focus on the goals you share. The rest will fall into place.
4. Grow That Professional Network
It’s never too early to start building a professional network. That can seem like an unusual thing to say when you’re still in high school or in early college, but it’s definitely not. You need to start learning who the major companies or organizations in your industry are now.
Most of the established people don’t mind giving of their time to help guide someone with an interest in their profession. Along the way, you can make friends with other students in your major. You never can tell when one of them could be an “in” at a future employer. Simply by thinking through the professional implications of every relationship you have, you’ll be able to establish and grow your network to something special.
5. Make Time for Yourself
We chose the words “support system” here because it’s not always about surrounding yourself with the best people. Sometimes you need to support yourself without the assistance of others. And you can do that by making time for your hobbies or things that bring you joy.
Workaholics may disagree, but taking care of your personal needs and wants is just as important as logging long hours of study and work. It’s the only way you can recharge your batteries, or else what is any of your hard work and effort for? Therefore, make sure your support system leaves a gap of time to reconnect with the things you enjoy.
6. Take Care of Your Body
Physical fitness, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep, are all part of taking care of your body. Stop glorifying yourself for seeing how many hours you can go without sleep, how much you can eat or drink, or how you never work out but don’t seem to be gaining any weight.
All those behaviors will catch up to you eventually, if they haven’t already, and they will bring down your productivity and accomplishments before you even have a chance to realize what happened. Make self-care a regular part of your to-do list, and don’t end your actual workday until you’ve set aside some time for it and followed through.
7. Be Forgiving of Yourself
Finally, know that you’ll never accomplish everything you set out to, at least not in the way that you intended. That’s okay. Plans change. Sometimes the people in your support system or the things you need to do to support yourself need to change as well.
Be willing to make changes and adjustments as your goals demand. Forgive yourself for not doing or having it all. Move forward by doing the next right thing, and you’ll be happy with where you end up.
How You Grow Your Support System Matters
We hope this look at how to build your personal support system from the ground up will give you great ideas where to look as you struggle to navigate the demands of the future. Good luck as you proceed! If you have any tips, questions, or suggestions that you’d like to add, please make sure to leave them for us in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by PxHere]