Welcome to part three of The Sanity Plan Principles series. The third principle is:
What is a Network?
Most often thought of in terms of work and business relationships, building a network is really important for support in many aspects of life.
Think of a network as a life support system: a collection of people and tools that help keep you functioning at your best.
Most often, the first network you are born into is your family. Early in life, your family determines what you do and who you meet. It often facilitates your initial social network, as parents often decide who their children associate with.
Beyond family, social, and professional networks, some additional network examples are health/networks and services/repair networks.
How do you “Build Your Network?”
Now that we’ve defined what a network is, how can we build one?
Building on the principles of being present and discovering yourself, we must assess the major components of our lives. This will determine the types of networks we need.
Consider your situation: Are you married or single? Do you have kids? Are you financially independent? Are you generally healthy or do you have health concerns?
Once you have determined the kind of network you need to work on, it’s time to take action. Are there people already in your life that can help you meet your needs? If that is not enough, create a plan to expand your resources by either joining similar interest groups or hiring someone to fill in the gaps.
How does “Building Our Network” help us?
In this interconnected life, it is very difficult to do everything for ourselves. We must rely on other people to fill in our gaps in experience, capability, and capacity.
Trying to be an expert in everything is an exercise in futility. There is simply not enough time or money required for each of us to master every skill needed in this modern life.
Building a network allows us to take advantage of others’ skills, and potentially return the favor with our skills and resources.
With young children and limited family support, I have been particularly focused on creating a caregiver network.
We have been forced to think outside of traditional resources, and build a custom support network to provide care for our children. After many months of trial and error, we have settled on a part time day care schedule for the 4-year-old and a part time babysitter for the 2-year-old. The babysitter handles them both in the mornings (including travel to and from day care) and I take over when they lay down for their naps. The sitter also watches the kids one evening each week so that my husband and I can go on a date.
We also determined that we needed additional backup care. Our readily available neighbor, with whom we have cultivated a mutual relationship, has graciously offered to be available to pick our kids up from school in an emergency. My mother in law is taking the girls to dance class one day a week, and can be called on for the occasional evening as well.
Each of these elements are carefully chosen pieces of our caregiver puzzle. I also have to be mindful of not overextending my use of the network and giving back where I can.
Have you established all of the networks you need for your Sanity Plan? Are there any that could use a little more cultivation?
Next principle: Forge Close Relationships
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