You've told the world (or at least a friend, family member, or accountability partner) about your big goal.
A fantastic and likely outcome of your announcement is that someone responds by saying they're there for you. They want to support you. How cool! It gives you the warm and fuzzies inside, right?
Following their declaration of support comes the inevitable question: "What can I do?" or "How can I help?". Hmm.
Unless you included a call-to-action with your announcement, you're likely caught off guard by this thoughtful request. Most of us don't have a handy list of "ways others can support me" in our pocket.
In the moment, you have a few options:
Out of fear of being a burden or asking the wrong thing, decline saying, "Eh, nothing. But thanks for offering." If you say this, then you miss out on a potentially game-changing source of support that could supercharge your success. Plus, you rob your supporter of the opportunity to invest in your journey, which has surprising benefits for them too!
Panic out of uncertainty and just come up with something, anything on the fly. Did you ask from something you actually need? Are you truly doing them, and yourself, a favor by giving your supporter a pointless task?
Ask for some time to think it through. Say, "Thanks so much. Let me think about it and get back to you." It's perfectly acceptable to not have an answer right away! By punting your answer, you can reply thoughtfully. Or, answer their question with a question: "Did you have anything in mind?" to get the ball rolling.
The well-intended question of "How can I help?" doesn't have to be a source of stress for you.
Take your time and over the course of a few days, pay attention to where you struggle to stay motivated and where you could use some help.
Once you have some ideas, go back to your kind supporter and propose an idea or two. Invite them to share their thoughts honestly as well. Be appreciative.
To get you started, we've compiled a list of 20 practical ways for someone to support you.
20 Useful Ways Someone Can Support You
1. Check in with you about an action at agreed-upon intervals
This is Accountability 101. They ask you to commit to an action, you report back on whether you did it or not. Provide suggestions on when and how you'd like to check in with each other.
2. Ask you for a photo to prove you did what you said you'd do
Photographic evidence is next-level accountability! It works really well for achievements that are visual, like an art project. It makes it harder to cheat. Plus, it's fun!
3. Call you out by saying, "I haven't seen you do X in a while..."
Do you tend to go easy on yourself? Ask for some tough love. Have your supporter be the source of honest feedback that will motivate you to get back on the horse.
4. Send you funny photos, gifs, or other reward when you do what you said you'd do
For tasks you dislike doing, having a small reward to look forward to after crossing it off your to-do list can actually motivate you to get it done. This idea is great for someone who will know just the thing to put a smile on your face.
5. Help you remember your reason for the goal
If you're comfortable sharing the reason why you're pursuing the goal, ask your supporter to remind you of this reason and the long-term payoff that will make it all worth it.
6. Remind you about the consequences of not doing an action
Get your supporter to remind you why each little step matters and the cost of skipping. By facing the consequences, you’ll be motivated to get back on track.
7. Send you inspiring stories, quotes, or videos
Are you inspired by hearing successes of others? Have your supporter send you these to keep you going and remind you that if people like you can succeed, so can you.
8. Take part in the activity with you
If there's an activity that can be done with multiple people, ask your supporter to join you. Great examples are fitness classes, networking events, or home improvement projects. Participating with you is a terrific display of moral support.
9. Teach you a skill that can help you reach your goal
If your supporter has skills that could help you get closer to achieving your goal, by all means ask if they can take some time to give you a few tips or point you to some resources.
10. Help out with one of your responsibilities so that you can spend time on your goal
Have kids or a pets? Burdened by errands like picking up the dry cleaning? See if your supporter could occasionally take on one of these to let you get down to business and be more productive.
11. Learn about your goal
Wouldn't it be great if you could talk about your goal to someone you already trust? If your supporter could learn about your goal, you can get their fresh take if the need arises. Plus, they'll be better able to appreciate what you're going through.
12. Send you good vibes for big achievements
Success is sweeter when shared! Similar to #4, having someone to celebrate wins along the way makes the journey more fun. Ask your supporter to celebrate with you!
13. Keep track of your accomplishments, no matter how small
Every day is a new opportunity to get closer to your goal. In addition to checking in with you, can your supporter keep track of your accomplishments to remind you how far you've come?
14. Help you prioritize and create boundaries so you focus on what's most essential
A third party can offer clarity on how you're spending your time. A supporter can help you identify what's most important and can even help enforce some boundaries for you.
15. Be a listening ear when the going gets tough
Having someone hear what you're going through can help you feel validated and supported. If your supporter can be willing to listen when you need to vent, that can be a tremendous resource to get you through.
16. Show you what your rival's up to
Are you competitive? Do you have a rival? If your supporter can keep tabs on your what your nemesis is up to, they can tell you about it periodically to light a fire under you.
17. Attend milestone events in person
Having a familiar face by your side or in the audience can make a big difference in calming your nerves. If you have a big race, presentation, or other event, ask if your supporter can show up for moral support.
18. Spread the word to others about what you're doing
Sometimes, the most helpful thing someone can do is to talk about your endeavor to someone else. If your goal is work-related, ask your supporter to mention you the next time they meet someone in your field or target market.
19. Give feedback on how you can improve
Does your supporter have more experience than you? Do you value their opinion? Invite them to give you feedback so that you can improve. They’ll likely be flattered.
20. Help you see the light through challenges and setbacks
A good supporter can guide you through the biggest obstacles by helping put things in perspective. Ask your supporter if you can lean on them for advice and a positive attitude to deal with any obstacles that develop along your journey.
Of these 20 tips, are there any that jump out at you? Consider the person who asked how they can support you, and customize your answer to their strengths.
Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with anyone who’s looking for support, or looking for ways to be a supportive friend.