This is a great exercise! I want to share with you an exercise we did in my networking group — by doing it, you will be able to better determine: who is in your personal community (people you call on) and where you feel like you have gaps (when you feel you don’t have anyone to support you in specific areas). You will be able to better build and maintain your personal network. Identify who your network is.
Are you connected in the important areas of finding support for work challenges, household dilemas (the water closet backing up), healthcare (doctors, dentists, chiropractors), do you have people to call on when your having a crappy day, when there are things that are out of your control (life coaches, counselors, mentors), when the bills are piling up and you have no idea how to pay them (financial advisors)… etc.
You can access this and many other useful exercises via the book ” The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life” by Renee Peterson Trudeau (2006, Balanced Living Press). Check out her website.
OK, let’s get to it…
First things first. Grab a blank sheet of paper (colored, printer, college ruled… they all work). Next, draw a smallish circle in the middle of the page and write your name in it. Next, on your blank page with a circle in the center, draw a large circle around the perimeter of the page. It should be near the edges of your paper. It should look sort of like an Avocado with a pit in the center. Now, divide your large circle/oval into four quadrants (do not draw lines through your smaller circle containing your name). On the outside of the large circle, in each quadrant, write these catagories: self (or: close connections), family/friends (or: new connections, the secondary and/or tertiary layers), household, and work community. And lastly, from the smaller circle containing your name, draw 2-3 smaller lines shooting out like sun rays in each quadrant. Make sense?
Now… the object of this exercise is to identify who you already have in your personal network. And, the visual illustration will help you see that… wow… look at the reality of how you are connected. It will also help you determine where your gaps are.
From here, make a list of ALL the people you have in your life. Include in this list: doctors, financial advisors, repairmen/repair friends, mechanics, hair stylists, therapists, life coaches, mentors, meet-up friends… advisors in whatever you need advice in. And, also include your work community, co-workers, advisors in resume writing, job coaches, networking groups, etc. Include close friends you can call on when you have a crappy day or need help with an errand…. or you need a vacation… friends you go away with. Include family and other supports.
OK, hopefully now you’ve got a good sized list made.
Start plugging in all these folks into your drawing. It’s from there, you’ll start to see how well you are connected. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to do all this by yourself.
You’ll also see what areas are missing support. The gaps.
Something to ask yourself… how do you feel about asking for help? (It’s good to get in tune with your emotions.) And, how do you feel to have people to call on to help you out with all the stuff building up in your life?