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Communicate with your support network

By Jenna Moede

I talked about creating a support network recently and the benefits you will reap from it, but you have a couple of must do tasks to keep your end of the bargain when it comes to the support network.  

First, you can't just expect everyone you have chosen to know what you need from them, how to support you, or when you need help.  

Communicate with your support network. While I have really close relationships with everyone I have personally chosen, they can't read my mind.  

I have asked each person that I asked to help me in different ways, and I had to talk those ideas over with those people.  

For example, I asked my husband to help keep me focused. I usually motivate myself pretty well, but sometimes tempting activities and events do come up which make me wish I could do anything but study or exam prep.  

Since my husband lives in the same house as me, I talked to him about different strategies we can use together to make sure I finish all of my work ahead of time or on time at the latest.  

My parents have a little different purpose. I have asked them to help me when I have questions. My parents really guide me when it comes to decision making or career choices. I usually talk my ideas over with them simply because they have valuable life experience that I don't.  

Lastly, I talked with my best friend. She understands the military, and she also attended school online when she studied for her undergraduate degree so I asked her to help me overcome the struggles of attending class online.  

I find it easy to feel frustrated with online learning sometimes, but having someone that can remind me of the outcome and how every college struggle really will come to an end will encourage me to stay on track.  

Second, I made sure that I could rely on these people to help me. Everyone has those friends or family members that tell you they will help with anything, anytime, but then never pick up their phones, return messages or reply to emails.  

In this situation, those people will not help you make the most out of your support network. Talk to each one about how best to get ahold of them when you need them and choose people with a reliable record of communication. 

I also recommend talking with those people to let them know that sometimes you might change your mind on field of study or long term goals.  

Maybe you have discovered a passion in your life or have a new door swing open. Those opportunities can come at any time and hopefully, if anything does arise, you will feel prepared to take on new challenges and walk through new doors.  

I really support the idea that you can change your mind when something doesn't feel right or even better, when something new does feel right.  

Make sure that your support network understands that their purpose is not to ensure that you do your exact, step for step, original plan, but to ultimately gain the outcome you hope for no matter what the path and no matter how many times you change majors, universities or plans.  

Don't force yourself (like I did with business) and don't let your support persuade you to stick with something that no longer interests you or you no longer feel passionate about.  

While their advice, encouragement and intentions may mean well, only you can decide what you really want to do in life and where you want to go. However, I do encourage you to listen carefully to those supportive people about why you decided to start your studies in the first place before making any altering decisions.  

Finally, appreciate the people that go out of their way to support you. Recognize their willingness to go out of their way to help you and try to help someone else in a similar way.  

I really believe in paying forward support and kindness however possible so make sure to take advantage of any opportunity to be a part of someone else's support network.  

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