Living your best life means following your passions and dreams. And doing what you love is so much more fun when sharing it with others! Forge relationships with others who share your interest—surround yourself with people who will support and encourage you!

Whether you enjoy sports or crafts, cooking or reading, there is a way to come together with others to celebrate your passion! Follow these six steps to help you start your own passion group.

Step One: Know Your Ideal Member

It's important to consider the qualities you most want in a fellow group member. The best members are:
  • Committed to taking action
  • Excited about making changes
  • Good listeners
  • Open-minded

Be sure to listen for these qualities when interviewing potential new members.

Step Two: Determine Your Type of Group
  • Open Group: This may be a group with an unlimited number of members. For example, this type of group might meet at a bookstore to discuss a chapter of a book every week (or every month). Or the group might meet at a health club to discuss and work on fitness techniques. With an open group, there is no commitment to attend.
  • Closed Group: This group has a finite number of members. If you want equal time, six to eight members are best. If not, the group can be larger. There is a commitment to attend (we recommend a three month expectation to start)—for example, a cooking club may feature one group member's dishes each time it meets.

How Often Will You Meet?
We recommend that you schedule your meetings three months in advance to make planning easy and to demonstrate your commitment to the group.

Meeting weekly is best, bi-weekly is next and monthly works well when you buddy up with someone to check in with during the week. Remember that the goal is to stay in action!

Step Three: Find Members

There are a number of ways to find new members for your group. Here are three examples:
  • Create a flyer. Be sure to include tear-tabs at the end of your flyer so people can leave with your contact information (not your flyer!).
  • Send an invitation. Invite friends, colleagues, family members or acquaintances to an informal evening discussion so you can talk about the idea of forming a group and determine the level of interest.
  • Have a friend ask a friend. One of the quickest ways to get a group going is to invite one or two friends and ask them to bring along a friend.

Step Four: Post Your Flyer

Here are some places you can post your flyer:
  • Bookstores
  • Cafeterias, lunch/break rooms at work
  • Children's school
  • Churches
  • Colleges and universities
  • Community service centers
  • Daycare center
  • Grocery stores (bulletin boards)
  • Health clubs
  • Libraries
  • Senior citizen centers
  • Spas, hair/nail salons
  • Women's centers
  • Yoga centers
  • YWCA/YMCA/Recreation centers

Some of these places may even allow you to use their space for meetings. Be creative! For example, if you start a group for moms, see if you can use space in a church that has a room for kids. Share the cost of hiring a babysitter. Or, you might even check out a local health club that provides childcare.

Step Five: Follow Smart Group Guidelines

The following guidelines not only help to create a safe place for a productive and enjoyable meeting, but they help to eliminate the kind of habits that quickly dissolve a group. We recommend that you review these guidelines at the beginning of every meeting.
  • Confidentiality: Everything that is said at a meeting is strictly confidential.
  • Equal time: When running a closed group, be sure that each person has a chance to speak. While there may certainly be times when a member needs extra attention, it's important to prevent members from continuously dominating the conversation. To insure that everyone gets equal time, we recommend that you use a timer to keep members on track. Do not allow cross talk, criticism and advice giving, or "fixing" of anyone.
  • Positive focus: Put the attention on what works. Look for and acknowledge a member's strengths. Keep complaining and whining to a minimum—one minute or less (we all need to do it sometimes).
  • Speak from your own experience: Use the word "I," not "you," when speaking to other members.
  • Honor the group: Check in regularly to be sure that all members are satisfied with how the meetings are run. Be willing to tell the truth gracefully. You might check in at the end of each meeting, once a month or once a quarter.

Step Six: Group Facilitation

There are many formats you can use to run a successful group meeting. Some groups may be about finding and pursuing your passion, in general. Your group may also be formed around a particular subject, like writing or volunteering. We've offered two types here—one for a closed meeting and one for an open meeting. With either type, we recommend that you rotate facilitation responsibilities. This prevents one member from taking responsibility for the success of the group.

Closed Meeting Format
  1. Negotiate equal time for each member.
  2. Review group guidelines.
  3. Start with 15 minutes of success stories, catch up, or letting go of anything that might prevent you from being fully present.
  4. Begin the group discussion. Allow the first person to speak without interruption for the allotted time. When finished, ask for feedback and/or support from other members. Be specific!
  5. Commit to homework for the next meeting.
  6. Move on to the next person.
  7. Needs and resources—when each member has had a chance to be fully heard, open the meeting and allow members to ask for and receive any additional help. A member might need a supportive phone call before taking a difficult action or contact information that will allow them to move forward. Share your resources with each other!
  8. Set up or confirm the next meeting.

Open Meeting Format
  1. Welcome participants.
  2. Review group guidelines.
  3. Start with 15 minutes (or more depending on the size of the group) of success stories, catch up, or letting go of anything that might prevent you from being fully present.
  4. Begin group discussion. The facilitator can begin by discussing a certain subject and then open the meeting to other members. Depending on the size of the group, you may need to limit speaking time to 2 or 3 minutes each. Remember that allowing someone to dominate the space causes people to feel frustrated. They won't come back! Gently remind the person speaking that time is limited.
  5. Suggest homework for the group.
  6. Needs and resources—allow 15 minutes at the end of the meeting for members to ask for and receive help. Share your resources with each other!
  7. Set up or confirm the next meeting.