People who were focused on similar goals, or felt like truly kindred spirits?
People who really ‘got it’?
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Portland, Oregon, USA to attend WDS2015 – the ‘World Domination Summit’. The conference asks: ‘How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world’. A big question, and one I’ve been thinking about – albeit phrased less grandly! – since I left the UK a few years ago.
At the conference I was surrounded by people on a similar path, asking the same kind of questions, and having the same kind of conversations, and I felt very much at home. The feeling reminded me of the importance of community, and of the benefits of having people around you who share your interests and, more importantly, your values.
But how, and where, do you find them?
A few years ago, I was surrounded by other career professionals – dear friends who shared similar interests and a similar path – and this helped me to grow and develop in the corporate world. When I left the UK to travel, and then decided to pursue a location independent life, I felt adrift – I loved (and still do love!) my old friends, but whilst most of them supported me, they didn’t necessarily understand this new lifestyle I was creating.
How could they, when I didn’t either? I needed people around me – virtually and in reality – who understood my change in direction, if I was truly to succeed.
When I look at my life now, I can see numerous ways in which I have ‘collected’ people and groups which provide support and community. In this modern age of wifi and connectivity it’s easier than it has ever been to surround yourself with others who understand your choices, whether that’s about being a Digital Nomad, doing Triathlon, or obsessing over Campanolgy (love that word!).
Here are seven ways that you can surround yourself with a like-minded community even if no-one you currently know has a clue about your new passion.
1. Join an Online Community
When I discovered the concept of ‘location independence’ and found out that some people were ‘Digital Nomads’ and travelled and worked untethered to a specific country or home, I loved the idea but I knew nothing about it. I heard about the community ‘Location Rebel’ from a friend, joined, and it has become a small online home for me.
The internet has really opened up specialist groups, and there are many places to join a forum or a community for any special interest. These can be paid (for example, for people interested in location independence, there’s Nomatopia, or Location180 etc), or they can be free, such as specialist interest networks like Internations which is for ‘expatriates and global minds’ or simply Facebook groups or Reddits (there are even Reddits for different Myers-Briggs personality types – my MBTI type is here, though I’m not sure how I feel about this Reddit!).
2. Take Part in a Course or Training Programme
If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I love learning. When I get interested in something, my first action is usually to buy as many books about it as I can find, listen to relevant podcasts, and then do some kind of training.
I’ve done three ‘big’ training courses in the last three years, and each of these courses has brought a new community into my life. I’ve often found that people doing the same courses share similar values. I’m currently exploring the site ‘CreativeLive’ (creative classes from the world’s experts) which is another great place to join.
It doesn’t have to be a paid course – for example, Life is Limitless has a free course which comes with a Facebook community where people can support and cheer for each other as they attempt to live a limitless life.
3. Create an Accountability Group
I love productivity, and I love being productive even more. But, sometimes you need a little help…
I joined an online training program in October 2014, and did very little with the material for three months. In January I decided that was going to change, and I asked if any others doing the training would like to be accountability partners. I ended up with a group of ten amazing people who have inspired and pushed me to much greater efforts than I would have made alone.
Being held and holding others to be accountable for their actions is powerful and inspiring, and is another way to build connections.
4. Get an Activity Partner
A couple of years ago I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time. I joined the Thailand online group, and wrote with them almost every day for a month, and drafted my first novel. It was pretty bad, and it’s unlikely that anyone will ever see that one, but it gave me the writing bug (and I’m publishing my first novel at the end of the summer).
In that forum, I met an inspiring woman who had already published several books, and the two of us began an informal writing date every couple of weeks. For 30 minutes or so, we challenge each other to just write, without our internal editor getting in the way, and I’ve written many thousands of words ‘with’ her, even though we’ve only been in the same physical place to write once.
Your activity partner might go to the gym with you, or be someone to do crafts with, or to go to a painting course with, or to go to yoga in the park. But they’re as interested in the activity as you are, and they can be someone to share all the nitty-gritty of the details your family and other friends just aren’t interested in.
5. Use Your Social Network More Effectively
You’re on Facebook right? Right. Pinterest? Instagram? Snapchat? Goodreads? There are numerous social networks, and each one has diverse special interests that you can tap into. I mentioned some FB groups in (1) but you could also join other paranormal romance lovers, Harry Potter Fans or Unicyclists.
Rather than just desultorily scrolling through your Facebook feed, why not join a few groups where the topic lights you up inside, and become an active contributor?
6. Start Your Own Group
My sister lives in a town where the activity she was interested in wasn’t particularly well represented. So she started her own group, which is still going a few years later, and she now shares the running of it with someone else. She didn’t wait around for someone else to found the group, she did it herself – found a local pub where the group could meet, printed flyers, created a Facebook group, and so on. At first it was just her and a couple of friends, but soon enough there were plenty of people who wanted to join, and she’s become well known in the area for starting the group.
If you can’t find a community that serves your needs, create one.
7. Attend an In-Person Event
As an introvert, I love my online communities, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but there was something very inspiring in being face to face with people at WDS. I did find the event pretty tiring, but it also gave me a lot of food for thought, helped to ‘fill my creative well’, and I met some amazing people.
Sometimes, you need to get out of the house and seek ‘your people’ out.
How Do You Connect with Your ‘Tribe’?
Attending WDS2015 really hammered home to me the importance of community. For most of us, a blend of the above methods is the way to create that feeling of support in day to day life. With nearly 3,000 attendees, I could only meet a fraction of those at WDS2015 in person, but with hashtags to follow, a Facebook group, and numerous blog posts after the event, there are lots of ways I can continue to meet those who attended, once the physical event was over.
All of my communities, online and offline, contribute to who I am, and help me to realise my goals, my dreams and to create a life and lifestyle that I love and am happy with.
So who’s in your corner?
Who shares your values?
Who are your kindred spirits?
Because it’s time for you to go find them.