Encouraging Support

By The Road To: The Road hidden Comments

Before leaving on a journey I find it easier to plan thing ahead: organizing my destinations, searching the web for information and recommendations, and preparing a to-do list, a to-take list, a to-shop list, and to-finish-before list. Not only do I prepare myself but also everyone around me. From years of traveling, it has proven to be well worth the trouble.

And now that I am heading on one of the most important journeys of my life, there is only so much that I can plan; there are so many uncertainties, open ends, variables and derivatives yet to be discovered. Even getting this far has been quite a trek. Looking for Meaning, That Inner Urge, Little by Little Tiny Steps have become layers of my evolution, but they were there the whole time only in my head, unbeknownst to anyone around.

Getting onto this road has been hard; it still is, as it requires the removal of so many boundaries. It involves finding the dynamo that will make you move and keep you going even when there is no external stimulus. And while looking around for help, there isn’t much to lean on while you catch your breath before pushing on. You expect the people you love to encourage, support, and help you in every way possible. But as aware as they are of your plans and aspirations, you need to understand that they are probably far away from the mindset and mental preparation you are going through. For them, the question of "why change something that doesn’t need fixing?" is trivial; they feel no need to doubt that which is self-evident. A decision to reach for the unknown and embark on a new adventure may be regarded as a sign of dissatisfaction or a time-consuming and overwhelming need to change the status quo. Rocking the boat may cause other unwanted side effects, so why even start?

You need to give time to those around you to adjust to your new boundaries and horizons, because your change will definitely have an impact on them. This is something that takes adjustment. While this can sometimes, unfortunately, take longer then you had anticipated, it nonetheless does eventually happen and you will slowly but surely see a change.

For me, it started with my family. The message to my daughters was that although I am there for them and they will always be my first priority, from that moment on they would need to learn to prioritize. I am there for them when they really need me, but there are so many things they could start doing for themselves. There was some obstinacy and some power struggles, a reasonable upshot of demotion, but we ended up in a win-win situation. By my insistence on their help and understanding in order to free more of my time, they recognized their ability to manage their time better. They learned how to successfully handle their responsibilities by themselves: doing homework, tidying their rooms and closets, walking the dog, warning me in advance of any irregular arrangements. No more last minute surprises such as "I need a cake for tomorrow morning," or volunteering my taxi services on behalf of their guests. They learned to appreciate my time only when I, too, started appreciating my time better. It allows me to make better use of my time, but it also provided my children with an understanding of their own capabilities, something I believe will prove important for building their own self-belief in the future. Instead of being the equivalent of a third hand, forever available at their beck and call, I became a mother.  

I read useful advice by Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, who wrote that when contemplating a change in your habitual behavior, such as starting to go to the gym, one thing that can help is fixing a weekly meeting with others. The social obligation creates a commitment and thus you are more likely to show up, and once there, actually have a workout.

In my case, I wasn’t looking for social support as a kick-start or in order to establish a new kind of routine. The social support I craved was to help me hold on, keep faith, and create the internal, private ecosystem which would allow me to pursue my dream, to the exclusion of all else, whatever it might take. This support started by freeing the time needed by others in the family—expecting less and doing more—but mostly by backing me up with encouragements and belief.

In all these challenges, it is only by being very determined that you can convey a clear message, start a change, and make others support you in your efforts. Determination is achieved by constantly reiterating the importance; not by talking but by doing Little by Little Tiny Steps. In this respect, actions are worth a thousand words. Amazingly, once you cross the chasm, it becomes easier to climb onto the other side. And once you are there, on the other side of the gap, you can actually start to scale the heights.

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