Date posted: 03/06/2021

How to identify and invest in your support network

Knowing who you can turn to for support and guidance when you need it is a crucial element in ensuring both your career success and personal wellbeing.

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Your support network - made up of your family, friends, partners, peers, teachers, career advisors and counsellors - help to make the hard times in life a lot easier to manage.

These are the people in your life that you feel safe and comfortable around, and who you can trust to consult with when making decisions or seeking guidance.

This group of individuals can be called upon for a variety of reasons - both personal and professional - and let you know you're not going it alone when you come up against a challenge.

Here are our 3 steps for identifying your 360 degree support network and how to utilise their help when you need it:

1. Evaluate your interpersonal relationships

Consider who in your life you could turn to for support in a variety of scenarios, such as:

  • When you're experiencing a personal dilemma?
  • When you're stuck on a study/assignment/exam problem?
  • When you feel the need to be challenged on a topic?
  • When you need help with planning your career and future?
  • When you feel like you aren't coping?

When thinking through your friendships, family members, peers at uni or work, and your raft of trusted teachers, advisors, mentors and counsellors - and your familiarity with the kind of support they're best placed to provide - you can begin to pair up the best person for each scenario.

And remember, sometimes you might not want to turn to someone who will tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear in order to learn and grow by trialing new and different approaches to things. Consider whether you are seeking comfort and validation, or honesty and constructive feedback in each scenario.

2. Build on these important relationships

Establishing a secure social support network starts with trust. Once you have established 'who' you ultimately feel can support and guide you, focus on these relationships and build upon them.

Be upfront and have a conversation about the kind of support you are seeking from someone - whether that's personal or professional advice, problem-solving help or even accountability to help you achieve a particular goal. Communicating openly with those you consider part of your support network should be a regular occurrence in your life - not just 'when times get tough'.

Bonus tip - as much as your support network is there for you when you need them - in the case of friends, family and partners - it's important that the support is reciprocated. Make sure that you are talking to them about their lives as well, and supporting them where you can in return. After all, these kinds of relationships are a two-way street!

3. Sometimes you need to leave it to the experts

In life, some challenges can be too complicated for your loved ones to help you solve.

If you're feeling lost or confused in regard to your career path and future, reach out to a careers adviser - they're a valuable resource, ready to help you whenever you need it.

And if you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed or experiencing other mental health issues, reach out to a helpline. If you're at university - reach out to your support services centre for counselling and wellbeing resources, or if you're at work - speak to your manager or HR department about how you feel.

Your 360 degree support network can help you to thrive personally and professionally - invest in yours today to help yourself craft the future career and life you envision.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact:
Australia - Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
New Zealand – Lifeline on 0800 543 or Youthline on 0800 376 633.

Student guide

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