Change is hard, there is no doubt about it. Some people can make and maintain a significant change on their own, but they tend to be in the minority. For most of us, it takes the support of others to keep us on the straight and narrow, especially when the going gets tough. There’s a reason that support groups are so popular: it’s because people have a much higher rate of successful change with they have people who will support them, encourage them, and hold them accountable. When you work with a support person or group, you make your plan, then you tell them what your plan is, when you are going to do it, and how they’ll know that you did it. Research shows that when we tell our intentions to others, follow-through increases.
You might want to join an established support group, such as Weight Watchers, an exercise group at your local gym or Y, or one of the various kinds of groups provided at many houses of worship. Or you can start your own group. Find one or more friends who have a common goal and work well together to help each other.
Support can come in many forms, not just in groups. Do you have a friend who you can turn to, who will help you through the rough parts and keep you honest if you start to backslide? You don’t want to use someone who is harsh and critical, but you certainly don’t want what I call a “poor baby” person either – a person who will accept your excuses and unintentionally support your failure. You need someone who will “hold your feet to the fire” when it would be easier for you to “cave in”. Someone who will encourage you, gently nudge you, and see through your excuses.
You can hire support people; professional support can be the most effective at all for many kinds of changes. Nutritionists, personal coaches, therapists and life coaches are all examples of people who are trained to help you in your quest for change. They can function as cheerleaders, educators, and mirrors – reflecting back to you what they observe, helping you learn about yourself and discover the roots of what is holding you back. Life coaches are trained specifically to help people find the obstacles to a desired change. They help people examine beliefs, mindsets, and habits that might be getting in the way. They have no agenda, so can often be more objective than a friend or family member can be.
No matter where you find support, be it a group, a friend, or a coach, don’t be afraid to reach out when you are looking to change your life. It can make the difference between success and failure.