by Usha Maharaj
When chasing a challenging goal, it is possible to feel lonely or alone even when there are people all around you. Being the first in my family to go to university was an honour and a privilege. But, university was unlike school. Being the first to experience it meant that, in many respects, I was doing it on my own.
Why a support network is so important
My family have always supported and been there for me. But this was different. There were areas that their support could not reach. I had no one who understood the pressures or the distractions I would experience, and eventually found myself feeling lonely and a little lost in all of it. I succumbed to the distractions and allowed my focus to slip. The cost was high. I failed my honours year. The happy ending is that I went on to pass honours in my first year at work, Board exams thereafter and qualified as a CA(SA). It would have been easier, though, if I had a network of people who could support me while I was in university. To motivate me, keep me on track and focused. It’s not impossible to do it on your own, it’s just tough.
We are living in a time where access to people and knowledge is literally at our fingertips. At first glance, you may feel that you do not have access to the right people who can support you. This is because you are looking around you. You may feel alone because the people in your network may not have the skills, experience or knowledge to support you (even more so if you are reading this during the Covid-19 pandemic), but the secret to stepping away from feeling lonely is to access and utilise the vast resources available outside of your immediate circle.
Here are 7 steps you can take right now to feel connected to people who can support you:
Get clear on the goal you are wanting to achieve. Be specific in terms of what you are working toward and determine how you will measure success in achieving this goal.
Identify the gaps you have in pursuit of this goal. In other words, what areas do you need to improve in? This could be knowledge, practical application, or even motivation.
Go to your favourite social media platform and look for the influencers to fill the gaps. Find people who share impactful content, who will engage with you on social media, who are recognised for being helpers in the area of your need. Follow and engage with these people and the valuable content they are sharing.
Read a book. There is a life changing book on absolutely any topic you need to know more about. Make it a habit to read books to fill in the gaps that you have.
Ask a friend, family member or a colleague to be your accountability partner and sounding board. This should be a person you trust, someone who is positive, who is forward thinking and will be able to lift you up when you are feeling down.
Join a networking group. There are all sorts of networking groups available. Find one that will help you to fill in the gaps. There are groups on various social media platforms, there are local community groups and various other business and social groups. Connect with likeminded people who are willing to engage, share and grow together.
Work with a coach or mentor. Working with the right coach or mentor could help you to shift your mindset and motivation levels, identify actions you could take and give you the clarity needed to keep moving. Look for someone who is aligned to your personality, who has a proven track record and can support you on your journey. Find out more about how you can work with me: www.ushamaharaj.com
The fact is, we can feel alone when we are pursuing a goal that is massive and important and beyond anything we have done before. But there are numerous opportunities to connect with others, to close the gaps and to find the support to keep moving forward. You do not need to feel lonely or alone and when you do, it is important to take action to move away from this feeling to one of being supported. Taking daily action from one or more of the items on this list is a great starting point.