In his book Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam laments a plight common to many people today: we're disconnected from others and lack a sense of community. As a creative person, you may feel this more acutely. While we need to have solitude to generate our next creative genius, we also need support of peers. If you're feeling isolated, take the initiative to generate groups.
Connecting in groups can enhance our lives immeasurably. Here are some reasons why you should consider being a groupie:
• share the journey: writers, artists, investors, entrepreneurs can learn and grow more with others
• glean tips and ideas you would not find on your own
• be inspired by others' boldness and successes
• get support from your peers
• have regular accountability.
The inroads I've made on all my goals are largely due to the conversations I have with my groups: my Rich Women group, my writing group, and my book group. Without regular gatherings, I would still be looking for a retirement account, and would still be eking out chapter one of my novel.
Ready to commune with others? You may consider starting a group. There are several steps to initiating groups, whether they be writing groups, art support groups, financial empowerment groups, investment clubs or whatever tribe you need to move forward in life.
First, figure out what you want. Write down the characteristics of your ideal group. Include:
• regularity of meeting
• size of group
• group's focus
• qualities you want to see in the group members
• where you meet and how long the sessions are.
Your ideal vision of your group might look like this:
"My Rich Women group meets once a month. In the summer, we meet outdoors at a park, and in winter months, we meet at a café. Once a year we go out for happy hour to celebrate our successes. There are no more than five women in the group. These women are pro-active, have a lot to contribute and are willing to share information. They are also kind and supportive and listen to each other. Our focus is personal and professional finance. We talk about: saving, investing, retirement accounts, managing our finances, how we bill for our time, best business practices, wills, insurance and anything that relates to financial empowerment.
"We meet for 1-2 hours and stay focused on the money. Each person has 15-30 minutes to share her wins and challenges. Each woman has homework that she assigns to herself. This helps the members to make progress - knowing that the group is holding her accountable."
Once you have your vision of your group, start seeking members. Make a list of people you know who may want to join. When you contact them, you'll be able to describe exactly what you want to create. They'll be able to tell if this is something they want to join or not.
Set your first meeting and use some of the meeting time to come to agreement on how you want to operate. Setting up your group will take a little time, but it is worth it.
Not into initiating? No problem. Check out Meetup - an international organization that connects like-minded people in your area. Look for writers' groups, business groups, philosophy groups, whatever you're into, there's likely a group for you. Most Meetup groups connect online and meet in person.
Whether you start or join a group, I think you'll find the benefits can be huge. Your life will be richer for it.
Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse has led hundreds of groups and helps writers and visionaries bring their dreams into reality. She is the author of Create Your Writer’s Life: A Guide to Writing with Joy and Ease, and Go For It! Leading Tours for Fun.