People who achieve great things rarely do it alone. Athletes have coaches, presidents have advisors and writers have editors. And when trying to change an unhealthy behavior, such as smoking or overeating, teamwork is an essential part of the process. You can accomplish only so much alone. Without support, you may end up feeling bogged down and discouraged.

Every step of the way

Whether you are just beginning to think about changing a habit, or you have already started but have hit a rough spot, family and friends can help. For example, if you are considering quitting smoking, family and friends can help you gather information about yourself and your behavior, such as when and how often you smoke. When your quit day arrives, they can help reinforce your new habit by not smoking around you. If you feel like giving up, family and friends can remind you how far you've come and help you stay on track.

One of the things to consider as you develop an action plan for changing your habit is how your family and friends can lend a hand. People who support your efforts can make some of the obstacles to change less daunting. For instance, an understanding family member can help you identify things that trigger you to smoke, and a supportive friend can help you avoid those triggers. So be selective. Avoid seeking support from people who tend to judge or threaten to leave if you don't change. This will only undermine your efforts. You need support, not arm-twisting.

Learn to lean

Remember that change is a process, so you will have good days and bad days. It's important to let people know what you're going through. The fact that you've given up a habit may shake your world. Busy loved ones may not completely understand how you feel. Try saying, "I know this isn't going to be easy -- I would really appreciate your support, especially during the tough times."

It can be hard to ask for help. Yet those who reach out often discover that the people close to them know about their problem and love them anyway. Once you have a supportive group of people, you won't have to pretend that change is easy. You can talk openly, even if you have mixed feelings about the changes ahead. Remind yourself that the rewards are not yours alone. Your loved ones can feel good about the positive change their support has made in your life.

Medical Reviewer: [Fincannon, Joy RN MN, Oken, Donald MD] Last Annual Review Date: 2008-03-24T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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