As we start the New Year, we all have a vision for how we want to improve our lives in this upcoming year. While there are many factors that impact how successful we are at achieving our goals, one is often overlooked. This factor is: you are who you hang out with. Your friends have a bigger impact on you than you may think. Now this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it just means that you should be aware of how your friends may influence you.
Jim Rohn has been credited with the famous saying, “you’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” I don’t believe that this influence is limited to just the 5 people closest to you. You are all the people you choose to surround yourself with, whether that be 2 or 15 people.
I want you to pay attention to how the people closest to you motivate you or hold you back. While no one is perfect and there are many reasons to keep friends in your life, ultimately you want to be with people that help you become the best version of yourself. I’ve come up with 5 characteristics that your friend group (or the people you hang out with the most) should have. These qualities can be found in one person or across your friend group. In either case, you want these qualities around to lift you up to what you are capable of.
You want at least one of your friends to be your motivator. The person you look up to and admire. You are genuinely impressed by them. They are a hard worker, creative, and constantly show you what could be possible for you too.
Maybe they are your friend who went after their dream of becoming a fashion designer and actually achieved it. They could be your older brother who worked his butt off for a prestigious law career. Or it could be your friend who has confidence that radiates off of her. The kind of self confidence that you wish you could have.
You want to have people in your life who, for lack of better phrasing, are doing better than you. The reason you want these kinds of people in your life is because they show you what is possible in life and what it takes to achieve your dreams.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you’re surrounded by friends who have no ambition, you will be sucked down by them.
I love talking to people who are further along in their business or life goals to hear their perspective and learn from them. Reaching out to people you admire is how you find mentors who can help you along with your journey. You never know what you will learn from talking to people that inspire you.
Positivity & Support
If you have a big goal, let’s say to start your own business, are your friends the kind of people who will be rooting you on or are they the type of people you don’t want to tell, out of fear of ridicule? Your friends should be bringing you up in all aspects of your life. Who wants to be surrounded by negativity?
I remember a long time ago, I was close friends with a girl who had a very glass half empty view. The more I hung out with her, the more negatively I viewed most of the world. I gotta say, life isn’t much fun if you look at it through a negative filter. It’s because there isn’t as much of a point to trying. At a young age I realized the impact that hanging out with her all the time had on me so I decided to make an effort to spend more time with people who saw the world in a positive light. The more positivity I brought into my life, the less me and my downer friend had in common so we slowly grew apart.
Someone to Challenge You
Although positivity and support are important qualities to have in your life, you also need to be challenged. You should have someone in your life who will tell you the things you need to hear, even if they aren’t all rainbows and sunshine.
I luckily have this with my boyfriend especially when it comes to Wellness & Wallet. If I have an idea for the website that in reality probably won’t benefit my readers as much as I hope, he isn’t afraid to tell me. It helps me see another perspective that I didn’t think of. Just because I’m excited about an idea doesn’t mean it’s something I should pursue. And I do the same for him.
Many friends don’t want to tell you what you need to hear out of fear that it will upset you. If you have someone who tells it like it is to you, it can save you from future struggle or heartache. Just make sure that they are at least being polite when breaking the news to you. Hearing bad news is hard enough.
Health & Wellness
A positive mindset isn’t the only thing you should have in your life. People whose health goals align with yours should also be a focus. If you have been struggling with eating healthy and losing weight, part of it could be your friends. Are they telling you that joining them for brunch instead of going to the gym is more important. Or the kind of friends who shame you for ordering salad instead of a burger like everyone else.
The opposite type of friends is important to avoid as well. You don’t want people who criticize the way you look and make you feel bad about your body. Or friends who tell you that you have to go to extremes to be healthy.
Some of my old friends (myself included) had this unhealthy way of looking at weight loss. To “inspire” ourselves to lose weight, we would look at super skinny or fit girls who had our “goal bodies”. This wasn’t inspiration as it was more shame and guilt. Since most of my friends used this tactic to stick to their diets, I thought this was completely normal. This is just an example of how friends can have a huge impact on how you view what’s normal in life.
Take a look at how your friends approach health. Do you feel bad about yourself, super restricted, or guilty from their opinions about how you should approach health? If so that’s a big red flag.
Creativity and Intellectual Stimulation
In your friend group you should have someone who you can bounce ideas off of. They should help you inspire your creativity and help you discover new ways of thinking. Not only will it help you find new solutions to your problems or better ways of doing things, but this type of mental stimulation can literally grow your brain.
If you are a left-brain numbers kind of girl, maybe it’s your artsy friend who brings out your creative side. Maybe you have a friend who likes to think outside of the box and talk about aliens and conspiracies. Having different points of views in your life not only makes your smarter by helping you learn more but it makes life more interesting.
Your Friendship Audit
Like I mentioned earlier, you should spend some time over the next few weeks just paying attention to how you interact with the people closest to you. Not every person will fit all of these descriptions. But, you should have all of these qualities somewhere in your friend group, family, relationship, etc. And, you shouldn’t hang out with people who are dragging you down or making you feel inferior.
Finding Friends Whose Goals Align With Yours
Don’t let where you grew up, went to school, or random chance control who you hang out with. You have the power to let more positive influences into your life. There’s no shame in wanting to add more people into your circle.
If you want to make more friends who can improve your life for the better, that doesn’t meant that you have to ditch all of your old friends. Go out into the world and join groups or attend events where you think you will find more motivating people to interact with.
When you add more qualities to your life that you highly regard, then you may end up lifting your old friends to their best selves as well. A lot of people love to talk about removing toxic people from their lives. But, it doesn’t need to be black and white like that. Maybe that friend from 4th grade who doesn’t have much direction in their life right now, can be inspired by you to go after their dreams. Just because you are adding new people into your life doesn’t mean the old ones have to be kicked out.
I have friends that I’ve known for years still in my life because they improve my life. They help me become a better version of myself when I hang out with them (except for maybe when picklebacks and karaoke are involved but you have to let loose once in a while, am I right?). I also added new people in my life who are going after their dreams and inspire me to do the same.
After paying attention to how people influence you, we can’t forget about how you may influence who you hang out with. While you interact with your friends, co-workers, and family, pay attention to how you are impacting them. Are you being supportive of their dreams? Do you share the hard truth when they need to hear it. Relationships, in every sense of the word, are a two way street. Make sure that you are spreading the love and support needed to those that you care about as well.