I’ll get by with a little help from my friends…

One feels the lack of social support most intensely after relocation. If you have just moved to a new country you are probably cut off from most members of your social support network – that is family members, friends, colleagues, your gym buddies, salsa group, etc…. That means you will need to start re-establishing your network, sometimes almost from scratch. And of course, you also need to maintain and enrich relationships you already have or have just formed. It shouldn’t be a daunting task, don’t worry – remember the magic number three from last time? You are in good shape if you have three people in your life that you can count on. Ready to do some thinking on this in 5 steps?

Step 1 – Let’s start with taking an inventory… Make two lists of the members of your social support network; one before and one after your relocation.  In each, include family members, friends, organizations, informal groups of people with similar interests, your coach or counselor if you have/had one.
Reflecting on both before and after helps you to realize the extent of change that’s happened in your life and can account for some of the frustrations, emotional ups & downs you’ve been experiencing. Once we can put our finger on the reasons for our frustration, dealing with it becomes easier. After all, how can you snap out of your lingering frustration or stress if you don’t know where it’s coming from?

Step 2 – Know thyself: Are your emotional, informational and tangible social support needs met? In other words, do you have people who lend you an ear when you need to talk about your worries or fears; acknowledge your successes? People who offer you expert counsel or advice when you are not sure what to do? Friends who would do your grocery shopping when you’re sick or give a ride to the airport for an early morning flight?

Assessing your needs and becoming aware of where you are lacking support will help you to come up with an effective plan for re-establishing your support network.

Step 3 – Prioritize: What are the three most important needs you want to be met through social support?  Deciding which needs are more important will assist you in being more focused and committed. Also the ability to manage our behaviors for meeting goals seems to be a limited resource according to research on self-control. In other words, because we will be using from the same reserves we can not stretch ourselves too much in investing to forming and maintaining many relationships as we try to cope with the demands of adapting to a new environment.

Step 4 – Why should you bother?? Think of the consequences… What will it feel like when you have all these needs fulfilled? How will your life improve?

Step 5 – Set sail! Select one need for now, and take it upon yourself to take at least two steps you can take to reach for support to fulfill that need. Research on procrastination (stay tuned for postings on this) shows that one of the reasons for postponing things is setting unrealistically high goals. So start with the modest ones to ensure action! After all “Little by little, one travels far.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Be assured that these are important steps to generate the wind to fill your sails!

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