The first step to building your support network is to expand your definition of support beyond help of your friends and family to include books, music, nature, talks, workshops, support groups, life coaching and even therapy. Each of these elements can play a role in sustaining you through the rough patches of change.

When you go through the “break down” stages of change, you face an array of emotions and needs. Your network is meant to keep you feeling safe when the ground under you is shaking and you feel vulnerable. There are times when you need a shoulder to cry on; other times you want a way to forget the pain for a while. You may need to be inspired one day and need someone to talk some sense into you another. Knowing the kind of support you need at any given time is essential in getting it. For example, I know that when I am upset, I need to be alone and the support I need from my loved ones is to not take that personally and give me the space I need.

Another helpful truth is that no one person can support you in everything you need. Understanding this fact can help you keep your expectations of others within reason. It is important to know the kind of support each of your friends can offer you. I know for instance, that when I need a good laugh I can call on my friend Barry and within a few minutes I am laughing no matter what else is going on in my life. I also have friends that can help me work through my emotions and friends that can brainstorm ideas with me. For me friends and family are the most important elements of my life. I take my friendships very seriously and spend a great deal of time nurturing them. I am real with my friends and don’t play games or engage in drama. At the same time, I avoid those who cannot be real with me and waste my life by playing games and pulling me into their dramas!

Genuinely giving of yourself and your talents to your friends and family is an integral part of building your support network. Knowing your own gifts and limitations in relationship to others can help you be realistic about your own and others’ expectations of you. For instance, I know that holding a safe space for others to let go and express themselves comes naturally to me. My friends know that they can count on me to drop everything to help them when they really need me. But they also know not to ask me if they need someone to care for their pet while they are on vacation! Clarity about what you can and cannot do makes you feel good about giving what naturally comes to you and not being hard on yourself when you reach your limits.

There are also many ways that you can support yourself by learning about what calms your fears, rests your mind, and soothes your body. As an example, I know that being in nature relaxes my mind; a warm bath loosens up my body; a long walk improves my mood and boosts my energy; reading spiritual books expands my perspective and affirms me; praying and meditation calms my fears; journaling and painting helps me understand and purge my emotions. I count on cooking to make me feel useful and productive when somewhere in my life I feel stuck or out of control. I rely on inspirational material, emotionally charged movies and soul touching music to alter my mood. If you take the time to notice what works for you, you can create a tool box of remedies to help you through change.

Another level of support can come from groups and educational opportunities such as talks and workshops. The strength of support groups lies in the fact that you do not feel alone in your particular situation. You have others that are experiencing the same challenge at the same time as you. Facilitated support groups offer the added benefit of a professional aiding the group’s interaction and keeping the group aware and productive.

Sometimes meeting the challenges you face with change requires more expertise than friends, family and support groups can offer. Seeking professional help maybe the next level of assistance you need. In “Change Thrivers – Your Resource for Making Change Work”, you can find a full section devoted to understanding the differences between coaching and therapy as well as tips to choose the right coach or therapist for you.

This is an exercise in the Change Thriver Book that you might find helpful. (

Building a Support Network

1. Brainstorm ways you can build or enhance your support network.
2. Choose 3 items and write specific Actions to accomplish them on the next page.
3. Decide on a date that you will return to this activity and Review your Progress. Record this date on your calendar.
4. Review and record your progress and set a new review date if necessary.
5. Repeat the process with new action items until you feel that you have created your desired support network.

Author's Bio: 

Afsaneh Noori is an Iranian born national speaker specializing in the topic of personal and organizational change as well as the author of "Change Thrivers-Your Resource Guide for Making Change Work". In 1994, Afsaneh founded Socio-Tech Systems Inc. (STS), a consulting firm that supports organizations in creating balanced strategies for transformational change. Her client list includes Essilor of America, City of Tampa, Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance, FL Recreation & Parks Association and TECO Energy, among others.

Afsaneh and her immediate family moved to the United States when she was 20 years old. Having to quickly learn a new culture and language became the basis of her deep interest in change dynamics and management. She attended the University of South Florida, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering.