Your Own Support GroupSeven steps to work, accelerate, and improve your abilities are listed below:

1. First, become dissatisfied with your current state.

2. Next, visualize the benefits of increased abilities.

3. After that, understand your weaknesses and begin to work on them.

4. Then, attempt greater levels of what you are already good at, or stretch yourself.

5. Then, commit time each day to improvement and practice, practice, practice.

6. Next, spend time with someone who has greater ability than you and study them.

7. Lastly, get a coach of some type, so you can accelerate your learning curve.

I look at the list above every day at work. At a minimum, I read it a few times a day. After careful thought, I noticed there was something missing. A very important item was not listed. There is no mention of using or participating in a support group.

Let's broaden the concept just a little bit and include people of like-mind. A support group or a group of like-minded people offers a cushion that everyone needs in their personal and professional lives. Without delving too deeply, think of any club, sorority, fraternity, or professional association/group and in most cases, you will discover a support group functioning at its core. It is not just an American tendency but a natural social tendency for folks to gather around the same topic, ideology, religion, spiritual belief, or any other social or professional characteristic you can imagine.

I think a support group, or a group of like-minded individuals, has a positive effect relative to someone's input and dedicated interest. Like many things in life, you get what you put into it. There are no absolutes in life and so it goes with support groups. However, I think a prudent, intelligent person can navigate themselves in and around the distraction or "noise" that is sometimes considered a negative by-product of support groups. Sifting through the value-added information is what is most important in engaging with support groups.

From a professional perspective, I have retained a "mentor" throughout most of my professional career. Mentors are a bit more individualized than support groups; as a "mentee," you receive one-on-one advice on a personal level. In the environment of the alternative support group, a person could very well receive the same exact advice, but it is disseminated in more of a group setting. I prefer one-on-one support, but that is simply my personal choice. The point is to engage someone or some type of group that can stimulate your growth and offer objective, unbiased feedback.

Self-assessment is a good thing, but an even greater self-improvement tool is the chance for one to receive honest, objective feedback from a mentor. Mentors rely on their valued experiences and knowledge to assist mentees in navigating their way through professional and, in some instances, personal obstacles.  Having a coach or support group is invaluable.

In my career, there have been many instances when I called my mentor to get his opinion on something I was working on, like a project with a "hard" deadline, or while I was going through my divorce. Every time we spoke, I felt a much better sense of clarity of my situation and was able to feel confident about my decisions/next steps. Over the years I've come to understand that support groups/mentoring play a very important role in my professional growth, intellectual stimulation, and social skills enhancement. In addition, I will admit that I have learned a lot about life simply by watching my mentors live theirs. I consider that a bonus.

In summary, if you are troubled or feel stagnated in your professional or personal growth, seek out a support group or fraternal organization to assist you with your challenge(s). Seek a mentor within your natural circle of influence: place of worship, alumni, job setting, neighborhood, family or friends. Then, enjoy the benefits of objective feedback and advice.

Trust me, it works. I know firsthand.

Joe Thompson, Debt Management Plan Graduate, The Providers of CareOne Debt Relief ServicesJoseph Thompson

Joe Thompson has been a Debt Management Plan (DMP) customer with CareOne Debt Relief Services since September 2008 and recently graduated to become debt-free!! Joe Thompson is active in many non-profit areas including; acting as Site Director for I.S. 8 NIKE Youth Basketball and has served as a mentor to many young inner city youths. As a hobby, Joe is a high school and college basketball referee in the New Jersey tri state area. Having officially completed the Debt Management Plan, Joe Thompson is excited to share what his experience on the DMP was like as well as what made his experience a successful one. Look for more posts under the My Journey out of Debt blog. Compensated CareOne Debt Relief Services Blogger.

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