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Which Gang do you Belong To?

Which Gang do you Belong To?

    Lessons on the Freeway

    So there I was, cruising along the freeway at 110 kph (70mph) on my big, comfortable Suzuki, complete with the electric (up/down) screen to deflect wind and rain, full-face helmet (which covers the entire head, including face), waterproof jacket (with body-armour inserts) and waterproof gloves, when a guy on a Harley passes me doing around 120 kph (75 mph). Gotta say, he looked much cooler than me. Complete with open-face helmet (no face protection), a pair of teeny tiny sunglasses, no gloves, no screen (to deflect wind), some ripped jeans and an old leather jacket (not waterproof) with his gang symbol on the back. He probably thought I was just another big tosser on a Japanese bike. He may have been right.

    Commitment to the Cause

    With the wind nearly blasting his head off (courtesy of his open-face helmet) , the cold giving him frostbite on his fingers, face and knees and the combined noise of a Harley with shotgun exhaust pipes (that means loud!!) and an open-face helmet at 120 kph deafening him, I had to respect his commitment to his gang, the uniform and the code.

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    The code that says: no synthetic blue jackets with body armour (they are for sissies like me), no full-face helmets (also for girly-men) and gloves are only to be worn in snowstorms. The code that says, ‘this is our uniform’. Looking at his contorted face (courtesy of the wind) as he flew by, I began to think about the way we humans love to belong and the price we’re prepared to pay for that membership. To our gang. Our group. Our church. Our click. Our team. To something bigger than us.

    The Cost of Membership

    But what I really pondered as I cruised along (it was a long ride) was whether belonging was more likely to be a positive or a negative in our lives over the long term. Is it always good to belong? When isn’t it? What compels so many of us to ‘join’?

    Part of it is that we’re social creatures, and on a level, we love being in a ‘family’. However, sometimes in our efforts to belong, we compromise our values and beliefs, we lie to ourselves and we do anything we can to be accepted. Belonging (to something) can make us feel better about ourselves. If only for a while. It can also make us feel trapped.

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    Sometimes being a member of a group means security. Sometimes it means pressure. Sometimes it means ‘keeping up’, conforming and ticking the boxes. Sometimes belonging to a group can define us. It can also be where we lose ourselves. Sometimes in an effort to find ourselves we actually become a clone of others.

    Many people want to belong to something, no matter what. The thought of not belonging terrifies them. Somewhere and somehow they have learned that they’re not good enough, worthy enough or valuable enough on their own. They’re deficient unless they’re part of a collective.

    I’m not against belonging to a group (I’ve been involved in many) but I think once we all start to look, sound, walk and talk the same, alarm bells should ring. I don’t think my purpose is to be a replica, cyborg or mouthpiece for someone else’s ideas, message or mission. I think my purpose is to live a life in alignment with my core values. Whatever that means and whatever that requires.

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    If you belong to a group and you can honestly say that your life is better for the ‘membership’, then my advice would be to stay. If your membership (involvement in, or obligation to, the group) means something not quite so positive, then maybe it’s time for you to discover who you are beyond the group identity, the collective mindset, the gang rules and the weight of expectation.

    It might just be the most liberating and empowering thing you ever do.

    You’re welcome. =)

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    Some Discussion Questions:

    1. Have you ever ‘lost yourself’ in a gang?
    2. Have you ever lost a friend or family member? (no naming of specific groups please)
    3. Are you a member of a gang that makes your world a better place?
    4. What should we consider when we’re thinking of joining a gang?
    5. What advice do you have for people who feel stuck (trapped) in a gang (situation, group, organisation)?

    * Feel free to answer as many or as few as you like. Or… just add your general thoughts on the post.  :)

    Image: f650biker

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    Achieving personal goals deserves a huge amount of celebration but setting these goals in the first place is a massive achievement in itself.

    While the big goals serve as a destination, the journey is probably the most important part of the process. It reflects your progress, your growth and your ability take control and steer your life towards positive change.

    Whatever your goal is, whether it’s losing 20lbs or learning a new language, there will always be a set amount of steps you need to take in order to achieve it. Once you’ve set your sights on your goal, the next stage is to take an assertive path towards how you will get there.

    The aim of this article is to guide you through how to take action towards your personal goals in a way that will help you achieve them strategically and successfully.

    1. Get Very Specific

    When it comes to setting your personal goals, honing in on its specifics is crucial for success.

    It’s common to have a broad idea of where you want to go or what you want to achieve, but this can sabotage your efforts in the long run.

    Get clear on what you want your goal to look like so you can create solid steps towards it.

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    Say you have a vision on retiring early. This goal feels good to you and you can envision filling your days of work-free life with worldly adventures and time with loved ones.

    If retiring early is a serious personal goal for you, you will need to insert a timeframe. So your goal has changed from “I’d like to someday retire early and travel the world” to “I’m going to retire by 50 and travel the world”.

    It may not seem significant, but creating this tweak in your goal by specifying a definite time, will help create and structure the steps needed to achieve it in a more purposeful way.

    2. Identify the Preparation You Need to Achieve Your Goal

    It’s easy to set a goal and excitedly, yet aimlessly move towards it. But this way of going about achieving goals will only leave you eventually lost and feeling like you’ll never achieve it.

    You have to really think about what you need to do in order to make this goal possible. It’s all very well wanting it to happen, but if you just sit back and hope you’ll get there one day will result in disappointment.

    Self-managing your goals is a crucial step in the process. This involves taking control of your goal, owning it and making sure you are in a great position to make it happen.

    In the early retirement example, this would mean you will need to think about your financial situation.

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    What will your finances ideally need to look like if you were to retire early and travel the world? How much money will you need to put into your retirement fund to retire at 50? How much extra savings will you need to support your travels? You could also start researching the places you’d like to travel to and how long you’d like to travel for.

    Outlining these factors will, not only make your goal seem more tangible, but also create a mind shift to one of forward motion. Seeing the steps more clearly will help you make a more useful plan of action and seeing your goal as a reality.

    3. Breakdown Each Step into More Manageable Goals

    The secret to achieving your goals is to create smaller goals within each step and take action. Remember, you’re looking for progress, no matter how small it may seem.

    These small steps build up and get you to the top. By doing this, you also make the whole process much less daunting and overwhelming.

    In the early retirement scenario, there are several smaller goals you could implement here:

    • Decide to make an appointment with a financial advisor asking what financial options would be available to you if you were to go into early retirement and travel. Get advice on how much you would need to top up your funds in order to reach your goal on time.
    • Set up and start to make payments into the retirement fund.
    • Research savings accounts with good rates of interest and commit to depositing a certain amount each month.
    • Make sure you meet with your financial advisor each year to make sure your retirement plan remains the best one for you. Research new savings accounts to move your money into to reap the best returns in interest rates.
    • Start investing in travel books, building up a library that covers where you want to go.
    • Think about starting a language course that will help you get the most out of your travel experience.

    4. Get Started on the Journey

    Creating a goal planner in which you can start writing down your next steps is where the magic happens. This is where the real momentum towards your dream starts!

    Create a schedule and start by writing in when you will start the first task and on which day. Commit to completing this small task and feel the joy of crossing it off your list. Do this with every little step until your first mini goal has been reached.

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    In the early retirement example, schedule in a meeting with a financial advisor. That’s it. Easy.

    As I mentioned before, it may seem such a small step but it’s the momentum that’s the most important element here. Once you cross this off, you can focus on the meeting itself, then once that’s ticked off, you are in a position of starting a profitable retirement fund…and so the momentum continues. You are now on your journey to achieving your dream goal.

    5. Create an Annual Review

    Taking a step back and reviewing your progress is essential for keeping yourself on the right track. Sometimes you can be moving full steam ahead towards your goal but miss seeing the opportunities to improve a process or even re-evaluate your feelings towards the goal.

    Nominate a day each year to sit down and take a look at your progress. Celebrate your achievements and how far you’ve come. But also think about changing any of the remaining steps in light of new circumstances.

    Has anything changed? Perhaps you got a promotion at work and you feel you can add more to your monthly savings.

    Do you still feel the same about your goal? It’s normal for our desires to change over time and our personal goals need to reflect this.

    Perhaps you’d like to take someone new with you on your travels and you need to take this into account regarding timelines. Are there any new steps you want to add as a result?

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    Remember, reflection is a useful tool in realigning your goal to any changes and it’s important to keep on the right trajectory towards it.

    Strive to Become the Best Goal-Setter You Can Be

    Having personal goals gives you purpose and the feeling of becoming a better version of yourself.

    But it’s the smaller steps within these big goals that the growth and achievement really lies:

    • Whatever your goal is, make sure you get specific on when you want to achieve it. This helps you focus on the necessary steps much more efficiently.
    • Research the actionable steps required to get to the end result and…
    • Break these down into smaller, manageable goals.
    • Create a daily or weekly schedule for these smaller goals and start the positive momentum.
    • Reflect each year on your goal journey and purpose, readjusting steps according to changes in circumstance or desire.

    Keep going and always have the end goal in sight. Remember the ‘why’ behind your goal throughout to keep you motivated and positive.

    More About Setting & Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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