“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” ~Wayne Dyer
I’ve been part of a social meet-up group for the past few years, one that’s helped me through tricky times like quitting my job, dealing with anxiety, and having my first baby. When I first joined the group, there were three people who attended the events. (Yes, you read that correctly—three people!)
There were lots of people in the group itself, but only three of us would regularly attend monthly events. It meant that if one of us couldn’t make the meet-up, we would have to cancel the whole thing (or it would be a rather intimate evening).
And yet, in the last year, the monthly attendance has quadrupled. (Admittedly, that only takes us to twelve people… but that’s still a 300 percent increase!)
Not bad in a year (and anyone who’s organized an event knows how hard it can be to get people to actually show up). And we’re talking twelve “regulars”—people who love the meet-ups, and who come back time and time again, enthusiastic and inspired.
Plus, our attendance is still growing, and interest is mounting. Who knows where we’ll be in a year’s time!
As we tested out ways to increase our numbers, I realized that the lessons I was learning could be applied to life—not just to meet-up groups. I started using them in my own life, with great benefit.
I realized that anyone going after a goal or project could use these strategies (and most of us are going after a goal, in some form or other).
So here are five lessons I learned about getting what you want, as taught to me by our small (but ambitious) meet-up group:
1. Be patient; play the long game.
When we set out to increase numbers, we didn’t get disheartened if we didn’t see results straight away. We knew the long game was the most important thing. The first meet-up had four attendees. The next one had five. Then we went down to four again. It took a year for us to get more than ten regular members, and to really notice how the group had changed.
A year can sometimes seem like a long time when you’re pursuing a goal or dream. But the time will pass anyway! Why not spend it doing something you love or are really passionate about?
2. Do things that scare you every now and then.
One of the ways we increased attendance was by messaging every single member of the group—to say hi, tell them about the monthly events, and to ask if there were specific reasons why they hadn’t attended in the past.
At first, this felt scary. Are we bothering them? Will they tell us to go away? Or will we hear something bad about the events? It’s daunting reaching out to people you don’t know, and putting yourself out there.
And yet, more often than not, it’s the best thing we can do! Let’s face it, if the things you’re doing currently aren’t working, then you might as well change it up. Try something new. What have you got to lose?
Pressing “send” on that email, or saying yes to that call might feel scary for a few minutes, but imagine how great it would feel if you got the thing(s) you wanted. Are a few minutes of discomfort worth it for long-term progress or growth? I’d say so.
3. Remember that things grow exponentially (one thing leads to another).
The best thing about taking action is the snowball effect: your action sets off another action, which sets off another. And before you know it, you’re storming ahead.
With our group, as more members attended, we could post more photos of our events (that didn’t show the same three people hanging out!) And as more people saw our photos and started coming to events, they told friends about it and invited them too.
It’s the same with goals or projects. You might nervously share a few of your blog posts and think nothing is happening; you’re not gaining any traction. But you never know what’s happening out in the ether. Perhaps one of your posts resonated with a local professor, who shares it with her colleagues, who share it with their friends…
The fact is, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. So take an action step, and then another, and let the momentum build!
4. Ask for help.
No one does anything worthwhile alone. There’s always a team involved.
The three of us emailed group members, posted on our Facebook wall, and spread the word however we could. We contacted friends. We held brainstorming sessions for ideas. We sought advice from peers and local event leaders.
The best thing about asking for help is that most people want to help. In fact, they love it! Think about the times that you’re asked for advice. Do you get annoyed by it, or does your chest puff out ever so slightly?!
Use the resources around you. Don’t be afraid to do so—because when the tables are turned, you may well be able to help in return.
5. Be passionate about it.
I’ve left this one till last because it’s the most important one, in my opinion. Be passionate about what you’re doing.
The three of us in the group really believe in what we’re doing. We love holding the events. We love the sense of community we’ve created. And we’re so passionate about what we’re doing that we work on it—willingly—in our spare time.
If you’re working on a goal or project and not feeling passion toward it at all, why are you doing it? Are you doing it for someone else, or to look good?
Things are so much easier when we enjoy doing them. So choose wisely. Choose things you’re passionate about. And then during the tough times or dips (which do happen) you’ll be more likely to keep going, and you’ll feel even more committed when you come out the other side.