Putting plans into action is the tough part. Even after formulating a plan and identifying your intrinsic motivations for achieving your health goal, the tendency may be to stop there. That’s why it’s important to consider the circumstances and the people surrounding you as you start your journey. After all, you are four times more likely to reach your health goals if you have a support system as you make long-term lifestyle changes.
What is a support system?
A support system is a network of people who can give you emotional, psychological and physical support when needed. The system can consist of friends, family, co-workers, or mentors. You can count on these people to give you a push whenever you need it and celebrate your progress with you.
Naturally, when you feel supported by the people around you to pursue your goals, you’ll feel even more motivated to see them through. This is because you are not the only person invested in your progress now. Now, you have a whole support network of people who are just as eager to see you succeed.
Having a support system keeps you accountable. By informing the people around you about the goal you wish to achieve, you are inherently creating a positive form of peer pressure for yourself that pushes you to see your goal to the end.
The kind of support that you need
Support can come in various forms. This support can go beyond just emotional support or simply being your motivational cheerleader. Sometimes, support can be as simple as:
A reminder from a family member to take your medication on time
An offer from a friend to give you a ride to a health appointment.
Someone distracting you from junk food if you had resolved to eat healthier.
Support can also come in the form of committing to the same goal together. An example would be enrolling in a gym class together with your friend. A study reports that 95% of people who entered a weight loss program with friends completed the treatment, compared to a 76% completion rate for those who registered alone. The same is true for other matters that require consistent accountability. For example, a show of support is someone ordering healthier food options with you in solidarity.
The support that you need differs depending on the goal that you have set. If your goal is professional and oriented towards work, seeking a mentor to support you and give you valuable advice would be the way to go. A superior in your workplace or someone with experience in the field you wish to venture into would be a good choice.
When support is lacking
Sometimes the people closest to us cannot support us and our goals or are unwilling to. In such situations, extending the circle of support a little further is a good idea, by joining clubs, associations or communities that provide an environment where you can thrive. With many options now available for virtual communications, your circle of support can be global. Participating in communities of like-minded people is helpful as it allows you to communicate and receive tips from other people going through the same process and acts as a form of motivation when you see other people putting in the hours and working hard.
The importance of setting healthy boundaries
Sometimes the people around you can be unsupportive and even downright discouraging. Words like impossible or unrealistic get thrown around, and every attempt at you trying to do better only gets met with disbelief or ridicule.
When this happens, it is important for you to establish healthy boundaries as you continue on your journey. Setting healthy boundaries helps protect your self-esteem and values, and, most importantly, allows you to prioritise yourself. You shouldn’t allow the discouraging words of others to shape the way you think and act, especially if your goal will only do you good in the long run.
Be someone else’s support system
Much like how we hope to be supported by our network of family and friends when pursuing our goals, it is important for you to support others in their time of need.
It helps if someone else communicates their goals and aspirations with you so that you can support them best. Still, if that is not the case, it is often possible to discern minute changes in behaviours through observation that may indicate someone is trying to better themselves. Ask them about it. Offer your support. And if their goals align with your own, join them.
Just know this: support doesn’t always have to be grandiose gestures or actions. Sometimes, support can be a kind word or two or even a quick text message. What’s important is showing that you care; that alone can motivate someone to reach their end goal.
This article was brought to you by Naluri’s Mental Health Coaches. Naluri empowers you to develop healthy lifestyle habits, achieve meaningful health outcomes, and be healthier and happier through personalised coaching, structured programmes, self-guided lessons, and health tools and devices. Download the Naluri App today or contact email@example.com for more information on utilising digital health coaching and therapy to become a happier, healthier you.