Take the element and apply it to itself. Then again. And so on.

In the case of a finite group, you have to eventually reach the identity element again sooner or later, giving you the order of an element of a group.

The continuous analogue for the cycle of a group are the one parameter subgroups. In the continuous case, you sometimes reach identity again and to around infinitely many times (which always happens in the finite case), but sometimes you don't.