138: Creating a Support System | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
September 3, 2019   |   Episode #:

138: Creating a Support System

In This Episode:

When you’re going through things in life, it’s so valuable to have a good support system there to cheer you on and even roll up their sleeves to get in the trenches alongside you. Today, we’re talking about the value and importance of having support systems in your life. We’ll discuss how support systems can be diverse and the four different types of support that people seek. I share why you may want to look outside of your regular social circles when seeking a support group. Lastly, I also give you some real-world examples of support systems that I’ve designed in my own life.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Surround yourself with support.

Questions I Answer

  • Where can I find support for my goals?
  • What if no one supports me?
  • How can I tell if a friend is sabotaging my potential?
  • What does a support system look like?

Actions to Take

Key Topics in the Show

  • Recognizing that support systems can be diverse – and why they should be

  • The four different types of support that people seek

  • Diversifying your support groups and looking outside of your regular social circles

  • Being able to decipher when someone is sabotaging your potential

  • Real-world examples of the support systems I designed for myself

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Welcome to Season 11 of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast 

focused on finding true fulfillment and happiness through the power of productivity. Join Tanya this season as she explores the theme of small changes for big impact. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes to Peak Productivity, simply g

to Tanyadalton.com/podcast. 

And now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton. 

Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya 

episode 138, creating a support system. In this episode, we’re going to discuss the importance and value of support systems because all season long, we’re talking about small changes for big impact. Having a really good support system might feel like it’s just this small thing, but it can really make a huge impact on your success and your happiness if you have the right people walking alongside of you through your journey. 

Making changes in your life or stepping forward and taking a risk can be really scary. All right, downright frightening. But when you surround yourself with people who support you, and your goals, and your dreams, it can help you feel a little more secure. Having a support system is a strong foundation that allows you to build a bigger life. Small change for big impact. That’s why it’s so important to surround ourselves with these people. 

So, when we’re talking about a support system, what do I mean by that? Well, it’s basically a network of people who support you, not only during times of adversity but also during moments of victory for better or for worse, so to speak. Only, no marriage papers required. The most important part of any support system is that it’s not a one-way street. It goes beyond supporting just yourself. It’s a group that comes together for one another. A healthy group supports each member. So, some people might say that a support system is a group of cheerleaders, but it really should be much more than that because weYes, it’s good to have people who are cheering us on, and encouraging us, and rooting us on from the sidelines, but sometimes we need people who will roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches alongside of you. 


Sometimes, it’s the people that will hold you up when you don’t think you can stand any longer. Sometimes, it’s the people who know how to push you just enough without shoving you so hard that you fall down on your face. Sometimes, it’s the people who believe in you, no matter how much they don’t agree with or how much they don’t understand what in the world it is you are passionate about. Sometimes, it’s the people who will lend you the financial support when times are tough or when you’ve tapped out your last bank loan. Sometimes, it’s the people who will just sit and listen and not even give their opinion or advice on the matter, they’re just there for you to talk to. Sometimes, it’s the opposite of that. Sometimes, it’s the people you go 

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to when you do want advice or opinions when you don’t want them to just sit there and listen because you want them to challenge you. 

So, as you can see, support systems can be diverse. They don’t always look the same or have the same outcomes or objectives. There’s no secret chocolate chip cookie recipe for how support systems are concocted. So, let’s break this down by answering the questions of, “Why? What? Who? How?” for support systems. So, let’s begin with, “Why?” Remember, everything you do should come back to your why. Support systems, well, they’re no different. 

So, the question we want to ask ourselves is, “Why are you putting the support team together? Are you trying to push goals and dreams forward?” And maybe you need people who will encourage you and help motivate each other to make progress. Are you wanting to grow your business? So, you want to pull the advice from those who are walking along the same path as you. Or, are you wanting to switch careers and you need the support and wisdom from those who can teach you things that you haven’t learned yet? 

So, the question is, “Why do you want this group? What is the purpose of the group? What’s the tone? Why are you coming together?” Let’s dive deeper into this by asking the next question, which is, “What? What kind of support are you looking for?” Well, basically, when it comes to support, there are four different kinds that people usually seek. The first one is emotional support. So, there are times when we’re looking for people in our life to provide us with emotional support, which means they’re there because they have our backs when we need it, and they’re also right there for us when we need a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go our way or when something fails. This emotional support can be particularly crucial during times of stress or anxiety. Or sometimes, we might just see feeling a little bit lonely or isolated. Emotional support can really come in to help. 

The second type of support is instrumental support. Other times, the people in our social network might provide us with instrumental support, which means they take care of our physical needs and they offer us a helping hand whenever we need it. This might mean that they’re the ones bringing us a hot cup of soup and tissues when we’re feeling sick. Or, perhaps they’re giving us a ride to work when our car is out of commission or it’s in the shop for a few days. This kind of support, this instrumental support, is helpful when we have an urgent or immediate need that needs to be addressed 

The third type is informational support. So, people can also provide what’s known as informational support, which is providing you with guidance, advice, information, and/or even mentoring. It’s a sharing of information if you will. This kind of support can be significant when you’re trying to make decisions or if you have big changes going on in your life, like switching jobs or starting a family. By having informational support, you can feel less stressed and less anxious about the problems you’re trying to solve because you have the sage advice of this person who’s supporting you, whether it’s a family member, or an experienced mentor, or reliable 

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friend, someone who can give you that information because maybe they’ve walked that path ahead of you. 

Then that last type of support is accountability support. So sometimes we all need a little bit of accountability. With this, you’re looking for a supporting partner who can hold you accountable for your goals and your objectives. So you might meet together regularly and be a check-in point to make sure that you stay on track with reaching your goals and they’re staying on track with theirs, and they support you in a way that helps push you forward in life so you make progress and you find success. Accountability support can be really key in achieving our goals. 

Because these people can be so important in us achieving our goals, or our dreams, or pushing us forward, it’s really important to ask the next question, which is, “Who? Who are the people you want in your support system?” I think this is really one of the most important questions to ask yourself because it affects everything else. It affects how often you meet, or how you meet, or where you meet, and it affects what type of support you’re receiving. So, don’t undervalue the step of who you’re going to ask. There are all different kinds of people out there. So, think about perhaps even finding some diversity. 

Diversity is really good. So even if you want a support group that’s all people who are focused on entrepreneurship, you might want to try to find different types of entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs with different backgrounds in education, or different types of ways. There’s all kinds of diversity you can look for, but diversity is what sparks conversation. It allows for new viewpoints and a shifting of perspectives. If everybody thinks alike, and is alike, and has the same ideas, you’re not going to get a lot out of that group. 

So really thinking that through is important. “How can you make your groups so it’s cohesive and yet very diverse?” Keep in mind that many times support does come from the people that you know, but it can also come from complete strangers. I know that might seem really odd, but there’s actually a ton of groups out there where you can join that you have a common interest or goals, whether you might want to network or share ideas with other small business owners, or artists, or a running group because you’re looking to run a marathon. You can find all different kinds of groups out there no matter what your interests are. Just looking for support for common hobbies, interests, and beliefs is a great place to start. 

There are online groups, and there’s also local face-to-face groups where you can make connections with people you don’t know based on your commonalities. So, don’t be afraid to explore with those common interest groups are that are out there, whether they’re online or in your local area. I know for many of us it seems really second nature to lean on the people that we think of immediately when it comes to support like our family. And yes, family is a great place to start. Friends, and family, and people you know are a fantastic place to start looking for support. But sometimes, if they‘re not familiar with your industry or really what the ins and outs of 

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what you do in your day-to-day job, that can be really hard for them even if they want to be supportive. 

So, it can be really helpful to look outside of our regular social circles and that can also help us diversify a little bit and find people who are different from us, who are there still to help support us and encourage us. So, one thing to consider when you’re trying to figure out who to approach for your support system is also who not to approach. Unfortunately, we will always have people in our lives who are doubters or who will try to sabotage our efforts, even though they may not think t sabotaging us. 

We’ve touched on this idea in the past that oftentimes the people who are a part of our group, especially our family group, they don’t like it when we take risks because they want us to be safe. They want us to be safe and secure and not take risks because they love us. They don’t mean to sabotage us, but sometimes they can. 

They can plant ideas in our head that we’re not capable of something or that we should just stay on the path that we’re on, even if we’re trying to do something else we think will be more meaningful. They don’t mean to, but they do. So, take that into account. 

Look, another truth is that sometimes you’re going to have friends or family who just don’t support you at all when you need them to. Maybe they don’t believe in what you’re trying to accomplish in life, or they think you should do something else like be a lawyer instead of an artist or whatever it is. So, if you’re someone without the family support you wish you had, that can feel tough. You just need to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who do believe in you and just know that you’re not alone. In fact, there are some great stories out there of people who have succeeded despite the disapproval of their parents or their families. 

You know, I just recently watched this documentary on Katie Perry, and I thought that was such a great example of someone whose parents didn’t really support them. Her parents were very evangelical, and her music style is well, not so evangelical. In fact, at one point her mom says, “We strongly disagree with how she’s been conducting herself, and she knows how disappointed we are.” Yikes. That’s hard, 

right? It’s definitely not supportive or encouraging, and yet, Katie has been able to overcome that and create enormous success for herself by staying true to herself and her goals. And you can too. Just because her family feels that way doesn’t mean they 

don’t love her. So, let’s not bang our head against the wall trying to convince those people who don’t want to support us. 

Instead, seek out the people who will support you with less strong-arming. Now, when it comes to designing your support network, I’m also going to state the obvious. When you surround yourself with good, positive people, it will lead your life in a good, positive direction. Of course, the opposite is true too. When you surround yourself with negative people, your life can take a turn in the other direction. We’ve all heard that phrase, “Misery loves company.” Have you ever noticed that you might be in the best mood ever, but then suddenly you enter a group discussion that goes into 

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a dark and negative place? Suddenly, your mood mimics the discussion. You go from cheery to dreary just by the tone around you and that conversation swirling around. Negativity breeds more negativity. So, try to surround yourself with positive people, people who are excited about encouraging you, excited about helping you and 

supporting you. 

Now, we‘ve answered the questions of, “Why? What? Who?” And I want to answer the question of, “How?” next. But first, I want to give a quick shout out to today’s sponsor. Today’s episode is brought to you by inkWELL Press and our new line of customizable and stylish disc planners for 2020. You know I always say that planning should be personalized, right? Just two episodes back, we talked about why we need to customize our productivity. Well, with the disc system, you can totally do that. You can add, remove, move pages around if you like while choosing your favorite cover designs and discs. These planners are ideal for anyone who likes to plan with the regular year. So, these planners run January through December of 2020. You can shop now because today is launch day for inkWELL Press. Just go to inkwellpress.com and start setting up your days for success. 

So now it’s time for us to talk about the how. “How do you design your own support systems?” When it comes to creating your own unique support system, you need to give it some structure. You need to think through how often do you want to meet, how many people do you want in your group. These things depend on that why 

that we started with. “What’s the purpose of the group?” Is it because you want to have intimate conversations that dive deeper, in which case you might want a smaller 

group? Or, are you looking for the support from a larger group, and you’re really wanting to have a lot of conversations and ideas that are shared, or you want a lot of strong accountability, that might be a larger group. So, thinking through those questions we answered earlier of, “Why? What? Who?” that will help you to decide how your structure should work. 

I think the easiest way to examine this is by me sharing some examples from each of those four categories we talked about earlier of groups that I’ve started myself. So, the first group is an emotional support group, which was a new moms book club that I started. I started this book club right after Jack was born. So, I was a new mom and I was feeling very overwhelmed, and exhausted, as new moms tend to do, unsure about what I needed to do, feeling like everybody else had it altogether. I felt like I was the only one who didn’t. So, I decided to pull together and curate a group of women who are all new moms alongside of me where we could really strip aside the facades of perfection and dive into our struggles, our scraped egos, our light bulb moments, and our wins, and we could come together to support each other. 

I wanted this group to be a place where we could be real and let go of the Pinterest-worthy versions of our lives, so I made sure I kept it small. It was a group of five other women, other than me. We ran it as a book club. We divided the year into thirds. So, we spent several months reading one book, so one book on relationships and marriage. After we’d done that for a few months, then we did a book on parenting and we did that for a few months. Then, we spent a few months reading a 

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book on self-improvement. I made sure and gave us lots of time, instead of doing one book a month, because we were new moms and we didn’t feel like we had that bandwidth to read an entire book in a month. 

So again, all of that builds into the structure. So, we met once a month on, I believe it was the second Monday of the month. We met at each other’s homes, and we sat down, and we had discussions, we used discussion guides, and we dove even deeper into what we were dealing with, what our struggles were. That was so incredibly supportive. In fact, I believe it’s so supportive to have a group like that, especially like a book club, that I did a Tanya TV episode this week on how to start a successful book club. You can look at that at inkwellpress.com/youtube. But honestly, 

moms book club was a strong foundation for me in a time that felt really shaky and really unknown to me. So, I do want to encourage you to think about pulling together a group for emotional support, and maybe you could use that structure of something like a book club, similar to what I did. 

Another group that I started was when my kids got a little bit older, I had a cooking group. This was a group of three moms, and this was what I would consider instrumental support. So, what we would do is we would get together every Tuesday and we would cook, all three of us. So, each person brought their own recipe and they brought the ingredients, and we cooked enough food for all three of the families. That way, the kids were playing together, enjoying the time on the swing set while we moms were not only cooking, but also chatting, and talking, and encouraging each other. But when we left, we had meals for three nights. So, it really was a really helpful support group and that it allowed me to make my meal planning even easier. The bonus was it made it fun. It made cooking feel like a community event where we would laugh and enjoy our time together while preparing food for our families. 

Okay, another type of group that I’ve started is a mastermind group, and this is an informational support style of group, so looking for information on how to grow our businesses. There’s all different kinds of masterminds, but the mastermind group that I’m in really focuses on growing our businesses. So, it’s five other women, other than me, so six of us total, where we talk about what we can do to grow our businesses. We’re all women CEOs, so we’re there to support each other, not just in our work life, but also in our personal life as well with the struggles that can be with being an entrepreneur, and being a mom, and a wife, and all the other things that we’re doing. So, this mastermind group is filled with people in all different industries. So, all six of us have very different jobs, but we’re all similar in that we want to help each other grow our businesses, 

So, we get together through Zoom calls, which are video calls, because every one of us lives in a different city. So, once a month, we set aside two hours to meet on a video call, and we take turns with hot seats where we each talk about our issues or our problems we’re struggling with and we all work together with informational support, helping give resources, and ideas, and helping us grow our businesses. Once 

erson and we do an in-person retreat. So, that’s another way that you can run a group. 

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Then the fourth type of group is an accountability support group, and the group that I’ve started is my Facebook group, liveWELL with Tanya Dalton, where we talk about really what we talk about here on the show. We dive deeper into the ideas and the concepts that we discuss on the podcast. We talk about productivity and all different ways that we can work together to support and encourage one another. And that’s one of the best parts, honestly, of that group is it’s a nice size group where it’s filled with people who are there who want to talk about productivity, who want to talk about intentional living. We’re all there for the sole purpose of receiving and giving support to one another. 

The structure of that group is that it’s completely online and each month, lhost a new challenge. So, every month there’s a new challenge, something new to try, something to expand our horizons and get outside of our comfort zone, and we work together. People post questions in there, they post requests for support. It really is one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever been a part of, and I absolutely love it. But accountability support really can move us closer to those big goals and dreams, and that’s what I love most about that group. If you’re interested in joining, by the way, it’s absolutely free just go to Tanyadalton.com/group for information on how to join. But that’s a great way to get started on creating a support system and a support group for yourself is join in with my group that’s already there and existing. 

So, I do want to really encourage you to find some ways that you can build a support network around you. It’s a small step that can provide you with guidance, and reassurance, and one that can really push you forward and keep you moving in a positive direction with your goals and your dreams. Small changes for a big impact. That’s what we’re talking about all season long, and this is yet another way to make that happen. Next week, we’re going to continue our season theme by talking about building up our confidence. Now, I want to remind you, do check out that YouTube video of how to start a successful book club by going to inkwellpress.com/youtube because I really feel like a book club is a great way to begin. It’s a great place to find support, and it has a little bit of structure already built-in. So be sure to check that out. 

All right. Until next time, have a beautiful and productive week. 

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. Now we’d love to have you join the conversation. To Join Tanya’s free group simply go to Tanyadalton.com/group. 

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