It Takes a Village
No one can go at it alone. You’ll need people’s support.
The support may come in many forms—timely advice when you get stuck, words of encouragement to relieve you from self-doubt, and the loving care that motivates you to push further.
Build your personal support network by offering people what you have first. Let your kindness propagate the chain of events that will improve both of your lives. Don’t lend a hand and immediately expect a return. You want to build a relationship, not finish a transaction. Sometimes, people take advantage of your good nature; let them. We don’t become poor by giving; we grow greedy by taking.
When you draw up an actionable plan for your goal, take a moment to figure out the logistics. How can you fit your idea into daily life and minimize frictions at work and at home? If your work schedule is flexible, you can negotiate to work a couple of days at home each week. This arrangement will allow you to take care of family needs while meeting the demands of your job. You can then use the free time on your days off to execute your plan. If your work hours are fixed, practice the productivity techniques I showed you to get more done at home so you’ll have time to work on your game plan.
Don’t let your newfound devotion overwhelm you to the point where you neglect your family and work duties. Remember the three overlapping circles I showed you in Chapter 1? Happiness has three components: health, connection, and satisfaction. Besides pursuing a worthy goal, you also need to maintain loving relationships and optimal emotional and physical health. Take care of your body by living a healthy and active lifestyle. Take care of your mind by focusing on the important things, and let the rest go. Unload the burden of guilt, shame, and jealousy through journaling, and let the words heal you from the inside out. Learn to forgive yourself and others by looking for the beauty in you and around you.
Before you start your dream plan, have a frank conversation with your partner. His support is vital to your success. Well, I hear you say, my husband is the one who says I’m a quitter. Yes, he can be your ally if you let him.
First of all, he knows you. Before you recount all the occasions he has misunderstood you, remember that he is the one closest to you. He knows you on a molecular level. He knows how you react to people and what ticks you off. He knows all the little habits you aren’t even aware of. Sit down and tell him about your goal and action plan. Let him sigh or shake his head, saying “You’re crazy.” When he’s done, tell him you have to be the best for yourself before you can be the best wife to him. When he recites all your past failures, don’t stop him. Listen to what he has to say and then tell him that is why you need his support to make a change. You’re tired of living in survival mode. You want to take charge of your life.
He may scratch his head and say, “What is this all about? Are you mad at me or something?” No, you’re not mad at him. You’re angry at yourself for having waited this long to take action. He will be skeptical of your sudden desire to change, and that is okay. Promise him he’ll see a visible change in you in three months. You’ll look good and feel better about yourself; you’ll yell less at home, and your sex life will improve. Hey, you’ll even let people cut in front of you on the road because you’re not uptight and angry anymore. Your transformation is good for mankind. If he doesn’t believe you, make a bet with him. Ask for a gift the whole family will enjoy—like a road trip to the Yellowstone National Park, or somewhere else none of you has been to. If you fail, just go back to the old routine, knowing you’ve wasted money on this book. I promised good results but didn’t deliver. What does he have to lose?
Talk to your children. Ask them if they want a dream vacation to Yellowstone, seeing wildlife roaming around in a big backyard of trees. Once they get excited, ask them to help you stay on course so you can win the prize. Make it a game, and on the days you don’t feel well, they can give you the extra push you need to get back on track.
Tell your partner you’ll start making healthy meal plans and bringing the kids out to exercise, and he’s welcome to join. If he refuses, leave him be. When you and the children have a great time working out together, he will feel lonely at home, staring at the TV set. After a few weeks, he will tag along without you asking. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen investigated whether having an exercise companion increases the amount of exercise we do. They found the emotional support from a new sports companion was the most effective way to increase the amount of exercise. 70 Encourage your partner to check his lab work and see how fast his health improves through these lifestyle changes.
After you convince your partner that you’re onto something good, make a list of the household chores and ask if he could take over some of them to free you up to work on your dream plan. Remember to automate, delegate, eliminate, and prioritize. After gaining his support, show your friends and other family members what you have achieved, and encourage them to implement similar healthy changes. Share your dream plan with them. Having a support network will make you feel less guilty about doing something that seems self-centered. The more people you talk to, the more accountability partners you’ll get and the more committed you’ll become.
When I first started writing, my husband thought I was crazy.
“You want to be a writer? Why bother? No one reads books anymore.”
“That’s okay. I’ll write for myself,” I replied.
Every time he saw me pounding away at the keyboard, he joked about it. “How is it going, my best-selling author?”
Since my son Ethan enjoyed reading, I showed him my chapters and asked for feedback. When my husband walked by and saw us discussing my writing, he would shake his head. Critiquing my work helped Ethan with his own writing. His English teacher often praised his essays. A few months after starting our homegrown literary club, my husband told me he was proud that Ethan had helped his friends edit their writing assignments. I asked my husband if he would be interested in reading my work. He said he would give his honest opinion if I summarized the story for him. (My husband doesn’t read novels, but he has a good eye for spotting plot holes and inconsistencies.) When he saw my progress on the book, he offered to take over some household chores so I could concentrate on writing.
You see, even your loved ones won’t be able to support your newfound passion right away. It’s your job to show them how serious you are about this and what it means for you to reach your goal. If you put in the work every day, soon your effort will drown out the disbelief. They’ll come to admire your courage and discipline and will want to help you achieve your dream.
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