Your Friends are Your Future – Choose Wisely
Updated: Mar 19
Study after study confirms how seriously we are influenced by the people around us.
So powerful the impact in fact, that our friends and family actually determine who we become and what we view as possible for our life.
The habits of our peeps become our habits; their tastes and preferences rub off on us. From our moods and how we care for ourselves (or not) to how we manage our money, perform in school, drink or use drugs or whether we perform criminal acts - all have been shown to be influenced by the people we choose as friends.
Whether positive or negative, people are contagious.
Our chosen friends and partners also affect how we feel about ourselves and our potential. Known as the Michelangelo Effect, if those around us interact with us positively and in ways that support who we want to be, we tend to become that ideal. Like teachers that expect students to achieve, “behavioral confirmation” leads to the qualities and behaviors that elicit that result. On the other hand, if we spend time around people that treat us badly or expect us to fail, we can begin to believe someone else’s limited opinion of what we deserve and are capable of.
Because of this powerful influence, one of the smartest things you can do for yourself is to be discriminating about who you allow in your life.
Jim Rohn made it crystal clear when he said: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most amount of time with.” Now, who are your 5? Considering your goals, are those the five that will help get you there? Or are there one or two slots that can use an upgrade?
And so maybe social networks and video streaming has since expanded that group to many more "friends" than that. The sentiment stands. Who has your focus? If every weekday is spent watching people who have questions about a baby's paternity fight on a stage, then that's your friend too.
Having people-standards can make a big difference for your own future and success. Conversely, when you lower your people-standards and spend time with people who don’t contribute or who take advantage, it says a lot about what you think of yourself and what you believe you deserve.
We’ve probably all heard the quote attributed to Confucius: “If you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. Look around. Are the people in your crew going places? Or are they on the same couch, talking about the same thing again this year? If you surround yourself with people going nowhere, you’re likely headed in that direction as well. Who exactly are you going to learn and grow from? Homie over there? Maybe not.
The blind cannot lead the blind
“Don’t do what unsuccessful people do.” – Tony Robbins
Could that be any simpler?
Learn only from people who have already been successful at what you want to know. Many people talk about knowing things and talk about doing things. Some people talk a lot. People who haven’t done it can’t mentor you. Is this person’s situation even any better than yours?
“When your word has been proven by your accomplishments, you have earned the right to be heard…” – T.D. Jakes
Two kinds of people
“There are two kinds of people on the planet. People who bring you energy and people who take your energy away.” – Jill Bolte-Taylor
And you can feel the difference. There are those who strengthen you and those who are toxic and negative. Every person in our life either contributes to or diminishes our strength, our peace of mind, our well-being and our energy.
Which friends and family are supportive, a positive influence or help you grow? Put everyone else in category two.
Negative people drain your energy and pollute your mind. Life is hard enough. Sad, injured people wallow in their pain and shit on those around them in order to feel better about themselves. You can’t afford to let someone else’s issues, unhappiness and negativity infect you.
Not everyone deserves to be on your team
Life is busy and time is at a premium. Not everyone can be on the team. More importantly, not everyone deserves to be. This is your life. You get to decide.
Blood, tenure or vicinity doesn’t give anyone a special pass if they bring you down. Just because someone is your sister or just because you’ve known him for 20 years or just because you’ve been neighbors forever does not mean you owe anyone any part of your life. Family doesn’t get a special pass. Remove the ‘relative’ label for a moment. If you didn’t share a last name, would you choose this person to be in your life? Exactly.
You have the absolute right to love someone from a distance in order to save yourself from negativity, no matter what their role or relation.
Time for a little spring cleaning
Begin cutting toxic or unhelpful and distracting people out of your life for your own well-being.
“…You’ve got to come to the conclusion of who is a benefit to you in your life and who is a distraction in your life. You can’t afford the distractions. They weigh too much; they cost too much; they demand too much; they require too much…” – Steve Harvey
If those around you aren’t a positive influence, your responsibility is to yourself. If you have any people in your life that are just negative, people you do not look forward to seeing, people who make you feel bad, time to clear them out.
But beyond being overtly negative or unsupportive, are there people in your life that are on a different path or no path, wasting time or creating a distraction from your goals? If so, they are taking up valuable space in your life that could better be spent with someone else who can have a positive impact on you.
They may not see it. They may not mean it. That doesn’t make them any less harmful. The people around you may not understand, especially if they are part of the environment requiring a change. That’s OK.
Sometimes people in our life simply drift away, with life, interests and influences diverging. Allow the drift. It may be by design, life pushing you in a new direction.
“Give yourself permission to succeed.” – T.D. Jakes
Don’t sacrifice yourself or your potential because you want to be nice. Don’t feel bad about removing yourself from people if they are unsupportive, negative or heading in a different direction. It’s not personal. It’s not about them; it’s about voting for you. You need to distance yourself from the wrong people in order to make space for the right people.
Be intentional about your team and create a strong support structure
“…There are no lone ranger success stories out here. For each and every one of us, it’s about having coaches and teachers and preachers and parents and support groups.” – Julius Irving
We all need encouragement for our journey. We need empathy and support for when we fall and sincere happiness for us for when we fly. Surround yourself with people who reinforce your confidence and encourage you along. That feedback and encouragement infuses you with a strength that you will need to overcome the inevitable bumps in your path ahead.
The importance of mentors and following successful examples
We can choose who we want to become and choose to surround ourselves with people that resemble where we want to be and who we want to be. You have the power to seek out those influences for yourself.
Seek out those successful in what or how you’d like to be. It is important to see it modeled. It’s now a real possibility. Spend your time with people who are accomplishing things; around people who are learning, growing, and stretching themselves. Surround yourself with people that make you think.
Bottomline: If you want to be healthy, happy and successful, surrounding yourself with the same is the key. Your future will thank you.
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