Friends are like the family you get to choose, and we all know how influential family can be in making us who we are…
This week on the TL Podcast we’re talking about if your friends currently align with the person you want to become and the goals you want to reach. If you haven't already, have a listen right here!
People tend to make friends by default, they meet at school or university and build a relationship that spans years or a lifetime. This is easier because you inevitably grow together. As you progress through life (provided you are actively spending time with them and they aren’t that distant friend who moved to Cambodia and calls you once every 3 months), you will find that your path tends to be similar to one another. Jim Rohn famously said “you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with”, and this rings true on multiple levels. It can be anything from your level of health, income and mental health. What Jim Rohn was saying was sometimes you need to take stock (or an audit, if you will) of the people around you and consider if their goals and ambitions are in line with what you want for your own life (suggesting that the people would be “better” than you so it raises your average). This is definitely a thought provoking sentiment that has been questioned by including author David Burkus in his book "Friend of a Friend". He actually suggests casting the net wider out of your network to secondary acquaintances.
The bottom line is; to grow, you may need new friends who can help you get there. This can be particularly troublesome for those of us who have ‘above average’ ambitions. You can be that person who wants to be able to comfortably afford luxury holidays, or to spontaneously fly to a business conference in another country, or have the freedom to choose your own working patterns, or work your way up in a company to become the CEO and be able to pay your children’s university fees in full. All of these ambitions are ‘bigger’ than the average, but how do they stack up against the ambitions and successes of your current circle? Do the people you spend most of your time with think your goals are wildly far-fetched? Are their own goals anywhere in the realms of what you’re wanting for yourself? We think that if you have an ambitious streak in you (of any size, because we don’t all care about becoming billionaire CEO’s) then you should be concerned if you’re the friend with the biggest idea, i.e. the friend who can do more teaching that learning in the group.
However, it’s not about cutting people off because their dreams are closer to the ‘norm’, it’s about branching out and actively meeting those that inspire you. The thing is, some people are absolutely content in a 9-5 until retirement – and that’s okay! You can love and respect them because they are going after and attaining exactly what they want, which is ultimately what success is. That being said, what we consider to be the ‘norm’ can be quite toxic. Think of the way people say “of course I hate my job, everyone does – it’s just to pay the bills”, or “I can’t stand my relationship, but I’ve invested so many years and it’s always been like this”, or even “I can never be bothered to work out, nobody I know exercises or eats healthily”. These statements are what a lot of people would rather not have to like, but aren’t actively working to fix it. The sad truth is that it’s normal to live an entire life without ever feeling like you’re reaching your potential, it’s normal to procrastinate on your dreams and delay what can make you and your family happy because you don’t really know anyone who is happy, fulfilled and content. It’s normal to struggle, there’s even an implicit sense of nobility that society has placed in the struggle, like it’s righteous to not be thriving and living an easier lifestyle that suits you.
You are extremely unlikely to be the only successful (in any sense) friend in the group, 9 times out of 10 you’ll adjust to fit in comfortably with the rest of the group. If the goal is to become an entrepreneur or an executive corporate professional then you need to build relationships with like minded people. If you want to become physically fit or mentally strong and healthy, then you’re better off spending time with people who actively practice this. There are groups of people who bond over a variety of topics from business to meditation and relationship maintenance. You can actually make happiness your new normal, regardless of how you define it – but you need to surround yourself with people who inspire you to act on your goals, because as much as they can love and support us, our friends are always there to inspire and push us upwards.
You need to sit down and design the life that you want. This includes all aspects like income, relationships, mental health, physical health, living arrangements, hobbies etc. Then look at your friends and see if any of them are inspiring you into achieving any of this, if not then you need to take the initiative to find those that do. Become acquainted with people who not only talk about those aspect of life in a way that resonates with you, but are either living it or working towards it. Self development is a never ending journey, it’s not just reading books and hitting the gym, but it’s also putting yourself in the right environments that facilitate your growth. Your friends, family, peers and colleagues are your environment!
As always, we are keen to know how this episode relates to your life experience, and if you have any advice for other listeners. Did you realise anything about your current circle of friendship, or have you unknowingly always associated yourself with people who contribute to your already fulfilled life?! In any case, we want to know what this week’s episode has meant to you and your relationships!
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