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"It Takes A Village"
By Carla Birnberg
April 26, 2017

"It Takes A Village"

The following post was sponsored by Quitter's Circle as part of a guest blogger series. All thoughts, opinions and stories expressed in this post are purely those of Carla Birnberg.
This post also appears on 
Unapologetically Myself.

It's time I let you in on a little secret:

For years I worked in the wellness field, was well aware of tips & tricks to help me remain on my healthy living path, preached and proselytized said tips & tricks, and didn't act upon a single one.

It wasn't that I didn't believe in the power of these life-hacks – I knew parking further from the front door of my office would be an easy way to increase my step count – I fell into the trap of believing that I was just too busy.

I’d grown so focused on spreading the importance of self-care & prioritizing health that I failed to practice what I preached...probably because I was too busy preaching.

(Spoiler alert: I’ve seen the error of my ways.)

The only thing I didn't jettison, even when mired in my choosing carts over baskets at the grocery store (free resistance training, people!), was my village.

I never lost sight of the tip that no woman is an island and everything I do successfully requires a village.

In the end, it was my village who got me back on track.

My villagers gently pointed out to me that I'd gotten lost and begun prioritizing others’ needs over my own.

Which is why, even all these years later, I emphasize to friends and clients alike the importance of a village in achieving any goal.

Your village supports you, holds you accountable and, if you're like me, even carries you during times when you cannot take another step.

Feel as though you don't have a village of your own?

You do.

You just need to look.

Identify people who'd be willing to serve as accountability partners.

Stop and consider all the various individuals you encounter on a regular basis. Everyone from parents at school drop-off to the people in your early morning yoga class. Don't limit yourself to obvious choices like close friends and family.

Make a list of these individuals that you encounter on a daily basis, consider which of them you feel might resonate with you as motivating or encouraging, and ASK.

Share with them in a conversational way your current goals, struggles, changes you’d like to make and ASK if they'd be on your support team.

The more I've asked people to be my accountability partners in my village, the more I've learned people don't resent being asked to help. People are typically thrilled to be included and often share a goal of their own with which they'd love help and support.

You may also find there's someone in your village who shares your same goal.

This has happened to me frequently and is a tremendous gift.

Pair up – achieve together.

The two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate incremental victories together.

Explain precisely what you need.

It can feel obvious to us (Someone trying to quit smoking, may think “I need help achieving this!”), but that doesn't always translate into our needs being obvious to our villagers.

Clearly articulate to your support people what your goal is (quitting smoking), what you imagine you'll need as you work toward change (I smoke when I'm stressed. I need to find a new stress reducing technique) and let them know or define for them your Language of Encouragement (even a terse YOU'VE GOT THIS! text can keep someone from picking up a pack).

Define what form of encouragement resonates with you (I cannot stand being cheered on. I adore receiving check-in emails or texts).  Let them know how frequently you'd liked to be encouraged. (Feel free to nudge me on a daily basis. That’s great by me. I'd never interpret it as nagging!)

This clarifying requires time invested on your behalf so you're capable of clearly defining your needs to your village. Even the most well-intended words of encouragement can at best fall short (and at worse feel discouraging) if it's not done in your "language."

Lean on your village.

It sounds obvious, yet bears repeating. Once you've identified your people--use your people!

Feeling as though your goal is slipping away from you? Call a villager instead and share how you're feeling.

Craving a return to old ways? Text a villager instead. I've learned the hard way (translation: after the fact) how many people would have wanted to help me – I simply never asked.

For those trying to quit smoking, consider exploring communities like Quitter’s Circle, an online community of other quitters and online resources that can help motivate and support you along the way and where you can build your personal support system through the
Quitter’s Circle app.

Ask.

Surround yourself with your village as often as possible.

Find your village. Ask your village for help. Immerse yourself in your village.

You don't need to end other friendships, but never underestimate the life-altering potential of encircling yourself with those who have your best interest at heart.

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