People Want To Help

IMG_1127Life is full of challenges. Regardless of the challenges we encounter in life, I’ve learned their weight and impact is lessened when we are able to connect with others who want to help. It may sound cliché, but I’ve found it to be true during my recent difficult timesPeople want to help.

Now, I promise my topics won’t all trace back to me losing my job, but this one is especially compelling to me. I also hope that some of the items I mention here will be useful to others.

Something I wasn’t sure of before I lost my job, but am now, is that people truly want to help when you are in need. While you like to believe your friends and family have the same principles as you, you’re never really quite sure. And, you always hope that you’re never in a situation where you need to rely on others or reach out for help.

But, I kept hearing over and over from friends and family in the last few weeks that they were there for me if I needed help. Many also advised me to reach out to many different groups of people, because they would want to help as well.

I know that in my adult life, from time to time, I’ve seen others struggle and felt compelled to help or reach out. It wasn’t always the easiest thing for me to do; it just felt like the right thing to do. You may not even be asking for “help” but you don’t want to seem desperate or needy.

I think the first step, the reaching out, can be the most difficult for people. People want to help or even just talk about what issues you may be facing, but they aren’t often sure how to begin the dialogue. Therefore, if you don’t initiate and seek the conversation, it may never take place.

So, I hope the following tips from someone who has been on both sides of this situation will help others as they either feel the need to seek help or hope to help others who may need it.

1) Just say anything
Have you ever received a note from someone unexpectedly and ended up being upset about it? I’m assuming rarely or never. You were just happy they contacted you in any way and it didn’t matter the context of the letter. The contact outweighs the context, so say anything! The initial contact will prompt future dialogue.

2) Be honest
The old saying goes — honesty is the best policy. That holds true when you want to reach out to someone for help or to help someone in need. Be honest and forthright when you make contact. Don’t be afraid to be upfront about what is bothering you or if you have a concern for someone else. People appreciate honesty and it will build a solid foundation for your dialogue.  

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are in need of some help or guidance, just be honest and come out and ask for help. If you are afraid people may perceive it as needy or desperate, don’t. Friends and confidants will be flattered that you feel they can help in any way. I’ve seen first hand in the last few weeks how receptive people are when you seek their help or advice.

4) Reach out to “weak” contacts
Lastly, if you’ve reached out and made contact with your trusted confidants, but are in the position where further networking may be needed, reach out to your “weak” contacts. Those people who you’ve lost contact with or haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe you’ve had a close relationship before and for one reason or another that contact has lessened. Trust me, they will be happy that you reached out and it will also start a fresh dialogue. It is all about the contact. Then follow what I’ve said above once you make the re-connection: be honest and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Life isn’t easy. Life throws challenges your way and those challenges usually make us stronger. Along the way, as you face these challenges, no matter how big or small, you don’t have to face them alone. Remind yourself that daily. You are not alone in this mortal coil and you are surrounded by many people who truly want to help.

-Tod

Tod and A Fitness Blog?

IMG_0575(1)This post was originally written as a guest blog  for my friend Megan’s site here:
http://bit.ly/1aLTANY

I sit here asking myself: why is a 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dad being asked to write for a fitness blog? I’m thinking of 20 good reasons why I wouldn’t be asked to write for a fitness blog, but then the reason why hits me. Maybe my article could serve as a good outlet for me to tell my story. And if – along the way – it helps someone in my same or similar situation, then maybe blogging should continue to be a regular outlet for me.

Are there any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dads out there? That’s another question I ask myself a lot. Not because I feel sorry for myself, but because just a few short years ago I never would have thought that description would fit me. In fact, writing it twice already, it still sounds absurd. Perhaps you find yourself in your own life changing situation, one that you never foresaw happening. Regardless of the circumstance, the best we can do is hope that our actions and decisions will bring us to a better place in the long run.

Without getting into the gory details, the last six months of my life have been rather tumultuous and some drastic changes have taken place. Some that I chose to make and others that were forced upon me. In the face of all of this change, I realized that I needed to find some stabilizing idea or belief to get me though the adversity I was facing. Yet, how do we implement the necessary changes in our lives to create this stability, to overcome adversity? What do those changes look like, particularly in the fitness realm?

Previous Success
Back in 2013, I committed to working on my health and fitness to be a good example for my young son, and as a way to break up the day working in my home office. The changes I made weren’t drastic, yet produced good results. It just took a little effort and dedication. I lost close to 20 pounds and felt better about myself in the process.

However, that feeling of accomplishment was short lived as my personal life began to change for the worse and I fell back into some bad habits. These habits continued up to, and through, my divorce in late 2014. The hard work and dedication I put in to making myself better physically had all but been erased.

It was then I decided I needed to re-dedicate myself to improving my health. There were things in my life that were out of my control, but one thing I can control right now is my well-being. But, this time I wasn’t sure where to start. My previous success was a guide, but that routine had grown stale and I was ready for a new challenge. This is where my good friend Megan enters the picture.

A True Professional
Megan and I have known each other since 2002 when we began working together at the Illinois State University student recreation center. Even then, she was dedicated to her workout routines and had made living a healthy lifestyle a priority. I had always admired that quality about her, knowing I lacked the same discipline and elf-motivation.

She and I had lost touch in recent years as she began to establish herself as a fitness professional in Chicago and I was living 12+ hours away as a married father to a young son. That said, sometime in the past year we had re-connected superficially on social media. Our conversations were few and far between, but as the thoughts entered my mind about re-committing to my fitness, I felt comfortable asking her for some advice.

A True Friend
It’s intimidating for anyone to admit weaknesses or discuss things that are out of their comfort zone. I was putting myself out there to a certain extent, but I felt like Megan would understand my needs and be able to help me get on the path to success. I’m glad to say that I was right and she has greatly helped me in the last few months.

Not only has she helped me understand my fitness level and also start me on a program that is sustainable for me, but she has been a source of positive energy in many ways. Most specifically, she has developed a great way of thinking positively through adversity and has transferred those ideals to me. She has made me realize that there are positives to be taken from any situation.

What Now?
So, how best to wrap this up with some actionable items — in case there are any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, singles dads out there. Actually, I hope that these tips can be applied by anyone facing adversity such as losing a job, struggling in a relationship, or just feeling like you are in a “life rut” and need some help in improving your well-being.

Consider these thoughts if you find yourself facing hard times and need some structure to help you through whatever you may be facing.

1) It is going to be OK…It is going to be OK!
2) Reach out to your family, friends, former colleagues, former bosses…people want to help
3) Network with your “weak” ties or people you have lost touch with…people want to help
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice…people want to help
5) Write down items swirling in your head, it will help you “un-clutter” the mind
6) Establish a solid sleep and workout routine (the structure is important)
7) If you do nothing else each day, fit in a workout…you’ll feel better about yourself
8) Stay positive and always reflect on the good that you have in your life

I can tell you that putting these thoughts to paper (or word processor) have really helped to reinforce in me that the steps I am taking right now are positive ones that will help lead to a positive outcome. I can also tell you that Megan has played a part in getting me through this, and for that I am grateful.

Megan has been kind enough to let me be a guest on her blog; so, if you’re reading this and unsure about where to start on your fitness journey, reach out to Megan. Her philosophy that “everyone is unique” and “not every workout works for everyone” is one that resonated with me and I think will make many feel comfortable. She is a true professional and also a great friend and I can’t thank her enough for her support during these trying times. Now, it’s time for me to go do some planks….

Tod