Don’t Go it Alone: How Other People Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Do you have a tough time accepting help?

A few years ago, I thought that achievements only really “counted” if I did everything alone. I was afraid that accepting help would make me look weak. But the truth is, getting help isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a way to maximize your potential.

Getting help can cover a whole range of situations, so let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Public Accountability

This is the most basic level of assistance: feeling accountable to someone else. You don’t even need the other person (or people) to take any active role here.

If you tell your family and friends that you’re going to lose 30lbs in the next year, you’ve made a public commitment. As time goes by, they might ask you how you’re progressing. When you’re tempted to eat a candy bar or dig into a bag of chips, that accountability can be enough to give you the willpower boost that you need.

Accountability works on smaller goals, too. Perhaps you’ve decided that you want to spend 30 minutes writing every morning. You could tell the world on Facebook or Twitter that you’re about to get started on your daily writing – that way, you’ll feel more motivated to actually do it.

Emotional and Practical Support

While accountability helps, you’ll probably find that you need a higher level of support and encouragement in order to stay on track long-term. That means finding people who can get directly involved.

There are a couple of key ways they can help you:

  • Emotional support. This might mean praising you when you’re doing well, or encouraging you to keep going when things are tough. You might need a sympathetic ear, or a pat on the back.
  • Practical support. Some goals require time, energy or physical resources. Do you have family or friends who can help out in practical ways – perhaps looking after your kids while you exercise, or letting you use their home gym?

At this level of help, your friends or family don’t need any involvement in your actual goal. If you want to be a writer, it doesn’t matter that your partner has no interest in doing likewise – what does matter is that s/he accepts that your goal is important to you.

Advice from Peers

While family and friends can be a real support, they won’t always be able to give you advice that can help you towards your goal. Look around for people who can – like-minded individuals, working towards a similar goal to yours. You may need to pay a membership fee to join an organized group.

For instance, if you’re struggling to lose weight, you might want to join a local club or an online forum. Perhaps your friends all seem to be effortlessly thin, and they can’t offer you any useful tips – but the members of your weight-loss group may be able to show you where you’re going wrong.

At this level of help and support, there should be plenty of give and take. You want to find a group where you can advise other members too, sharing what you yourself have learned. This can help you too: teaching others may allow you to consolidate your own knowledge and experience.

Expert Assistance

This level of help isn’t right for everyone: it may mean a substantial commitment of money and probably of time. If you’re going for a big goal, though, you may find it’s very worthwhile to invest in expert help.

Whatever you’re working on, there’ll be people who can help in the role of a teacher, mentor, tutor or coach. With some goals, these individuals are essential and their involvement is pretty much automatic (if you’re aiming to get a degree, for instance). With other goals, you may have to look around.

Experts might be consultants who can teach you how to run your small business more effectively, teachers who can give you weekly music lessons, life coaches who can give you new insights into your behavior … pretty much anyone who’s at a level above you and your peers.

If you can’t afford to pay for one-to-one time with an expert, look for opportunities to attend group sessions (such as a seminar) – or even consider buying a book that you can learn from.


How are other people helping you on the road towards your goals? Is there any level of support that you’re missing out on? Feel free to share your experience and thoughts in the comments below…

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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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