How can a support team help me in my efforts to change?

We work better by working together, so identify those around you -- family, friends, coworkers -- who will support your self-change. Here are research-based tips for maximizing your support team's assistance to you as the going gets tougher:
  • Ask for ears and support. Any psychotherapist will tell you that active listening and real support form the backbone of successful change. But your support team doesn’t need to be composed of professionals; you can receive empathy and affirmation from all sorts of folks. Listening and being heard are extraordinarily powerful.
  • Chat frequently. Keep regular contact with your change team -- several times a week, at a minimum, for a quick check-in and healthy dose of support.
  • Express what you need. Your change team cannot read your mind. Do you want one of them to listen more with fewer interruptions? Do you prefer more praise and acknowledgment? Or some concrete tips? Tell them directly. Be specific.
  • Keep it positive. Ask your friends to focus on your progress instead of the occasional slips. Firmly but graciously remind them that sarcasm, guilt, and embarrassment are not helpful forms of support!
  • Put me in, Coach. If you selected members of your team wisely, at least one will have experienced success in their own change. That person effectively serves as your coach. Ask for tips or skills of the day. Experiment with what works best for you.
  • Accept peer pressure. That term usually makes us think of the “bad influences” in school. But peer pressure from online communities, faith communities, and work groups can keep you on track.
  • Buddy up. Sometimes friends and family will surprise you by announcing that they are joining you in changing their behavior. Positive health habits spread through networks of friends like a virus. Accept as many co-changers as your schedule can accommodate.
  • Race to the top. Friendly competition can spur people to greater heights. You’ll reap many benefits: encouraging each other, tracking improvement, and yes, feeling guilty if you’re letting the other person down.
  • Invite challenge. “Say what?! You want me to invite a member of my support team to confront or criticize me!” Well, yes and no. Yes, you’ll probably profit from the occasional loving correction. Decide on the rules of engagement so that you can hear the challenge and use it productively. But, no, you don’t need anyone to scream at or belittle you. You already do plenty of that to yourself.
Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions

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Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions

Is there a scientific formula you can follow to change your life? Change is hard. But not if you know the 5-step formula that works whether you’re trying to stop smoking or start recycling. Dr....

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.