Start the New Year with a Support Squad!

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With the holidays already here, it's a good time to BE thinking 2014.  And not just about what your goals are for 2014, but who is going to help you achieve them. Back when I was an entertainment industry executive at Sony, Universal and Turner Broadcasting, I used to attend annual management retreats where we'd plan for the coming year. I'd sit at that big, long conference table and daydream about all those brains working for me.

About having my own customized "Support Squad," a dream team of handpicked supporters, to help me succeed. And not just professionally, but also physically, emotionally and spiritually. When I left the relative safety of the corporate world and my marriage (in mid-life, mind you) to publish my first book and launch my coaching and consulting firm, I knew my Support Squad would help see me through. There was just one problem.  I didn't have a Support Squad.

Not to be deterred by this small detail, I started by asking my former Sony boss if he would serve as my business mentor. He immediately said yes, and only later confessed that he'd had no clue what I needed, but hoped I did. Emboldened by my first successful recruit, I added a financial advisor, a marketing guru, a physical trainer, a landscape gardener, even a great group of girlfriends who shared my passion for theater and travel.

Some, like the financial advisor and the marketing guru, were paid professionals. Others, like the trainer, gardening pal and the girlfriends, offered their support simply out of the goodness of their hearts. It wasn't always clear exactly what role each person would play, but as long as they were enthusiastic, or at least willing, to help me change my life, I knew we'd figure it out as we went along. And we did.

What kind of support do you need to see you through financial hardships, career challenges or just the dilemmas of daily life? Whether you want assistance with work, finances, kids, fitness, or all of the above, recruiting your Support Squad isn't as difficult as you might think. Start by making a list of friends, colleagues, or relatives who might be willing to help you meet your goals. And if you don't know what your goals are, clarifying them can be your team's first endeavor.  Pick the least intimidating  person on your list for your first recruiting conversation, working up to the more challenging ones as your confidence grows. Follow these simple steps to solicit support and build your squad:

  1. State your goal. It could be, "I need financial help to avoid foreclosure on my house," or "I want to start my own business."
  2. Make your request. You might say, "I want to hire you as my business coach" or "I'd like your help with re-financing my mortgage."
  3. Negotiate next steps. Whether it's a paid professional or a friend, determine exactly what form their support will take with regard to timing, location, length of commitment and payment, if any.
  4. Evaluate on an ongoing basis. If your goals are clear and measurable, you'll be able to determine if your team has helped you reach them. Add new members as the need or opportunity arises.
  5. Be sure to give back. Volunteer to be a part of someone else's Support Squad or to return the support in any way you can.

In my next blog post, we'll look at Creating Your Theme for 2014. Much better than those nasty New Year's resolutions that no one wants to make and never manages to keep.  Happy holidays!