A Simple Question: Rediscovering the Joy of Asking for Help
By Tiffany Owens | Staff Writer at SURV
I recently moved from New York to Texas, into a large home that I’m renting with other young women. This is my first time as an adult living in a big house with a yard and as a friend of the landlord, I’m in charge of keeping it up.
I’m learning both the joys (so much space) and the new responsibilities that come with this. Specifically, I’m learning about yard work. A few days ago, my friend and landlord warned me that with the arrival of cooler weather would come the arrival of leaves...lots of them, maybe up to 20 bags full!
I could feel the stress rise as I wondered how I would find time for this and the many other responsibilities piling up. Then, in a moment, I remembered a fact that’s so simple and ordinary that it’s easy to forget: I have friends. Twenty bags of leaves divided between 5-6 friends would not only make light work (as they say) but it would also provide the basis of special memories.
As I walk around my house thinking of projects, I’m learning to pause and instead of thinking, “How will I do this?” I simply remind myself: “I can ask for help.” This simple shift in mindset has already paid off. Just last night a friend came over to help me paint and what would normally have been a chore turned into an hour of meaningful conversation, laughs and deeper connection.
At 33, I’m young, but this lesson applies for everyone no matter their age. Everyone needs help, no matter how rich or competent they may be. As you settle into retirement and consider asking for outside help, here are five things to look for:
1. Helpers who are off their phone
Effective helpers should be attentive, focused and present. If you’re going to be paying someone to help you with household projects or yard work, you should choose someone who will give their full attention to the job at hand. Don’t be afraid to ask potential helpers to leave their phones in the car or in a designated area. Watching how they respond to this is an indicator of their mentality around their devices.
2. Helpers who are skilled but willing to take directions
Your home is a special place full of quirks and details that only you know as well as many special memories. You should choose a helper who is skilled yet who is willing to take directions and to learn from you the particularities about how to complete a certain task. Choose helpers who listen well, ask questions and follow directions.
3. Helpers who are background checked
If you choose to work with a company that provides helpers, be sure to ask about their vetting process, including whether or not they perform background checks. Having someone helping you around the house requires an element of trust, so you should go with a company that can assure you of a thorough and thoughtful vetting process and management system.
4. Helpers who are friendly and conversational
The best part of receiving help is the opportunity to build a relationship with the person helping you. Look for service providers and helpers who understand the importance of relationship-building and who have a conversational and relational culture. For instance, if you know you’ll need help on a regular basis, you should ask if it’s possible to request the same helper or two regularly so you can get to know them, rather than having a new helper each time.
5. Helpers who can handle a variety of projects
While it’s normal to find a painter, mover or weed-hacker, it’s rare to find an in-home service company that can handle many different kinds of jobs. Look for a company that understands the complexity of a home and whose employees are willing to jump in and assist with a variety of projects. Ask about the types of projects they’re capable of handling and what kind of training or certification they’re required to complete before being sent on a job.
With an ever-increasing number of apps, robots and “smart” gadgets, it’s easy to think we can lead fully self-sufficient lives that “free” us from the need to ask for help, but is this really a better life? I’ll admit that I used to want to be the kind of person who could handle life’s challenges on her own, but now I’m realizing that this is not the path to a full life. Being so overwhelmed that I must learn to ask for help might be one of the best lessons I have learned yet.