People. People are all around us and play a major role in our everyday lives. From social media, to careers, to family, to friends and everything in between, we are overloaded with human contact nearly 24 hours a day. Despite these interactions or your failed attempts at limiting them (like how my introverted ass does), we are all still susceptible to these influences and the irrefutable fact that::
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”
– Jim Rohn
Let that sink in for a second
The people you spend the most time with are directly influencing who you are and therefore influencing who you will become.
In order to build the life you want and become the desired version of yourself, you need to take a long hard look at who you are, who you want to be, who your friends are, and how they are impacting your life. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is a crucial aspect of building your life; building your Striven Life.
Since my high school years, I have used these exact tools and therefore experienced their life-improving benefits. By the start of my freshmen year of high school, my group of friends had evolved into something that I knew would hinder my ability to reach my future goals. Academics and sports were no longer of any importance, while drug use became a recreational habit. A group of friends with zero trust, lots of drama, extensive backstabbing, and plenty of shit talking.
It was clear to me that this wasn’t who I wanted to be and that they had a much different outlook on life that I did.
So, after the first semester of freshmen year I dropped my entire group of friends. That’s right, my former chubby, insecure, puberty stricken, teenage self made the decision to go friendless with the hopes of building something better moving forward.
1) In order to be truly happy you need to value yourself, dedicate yourself towards the things you personally love in life, focus on growing yourself, and most importantly, refuse to let anybody take these things away from you
2) If you approach number 1 with an open mind and willingness to meet new people, then you will slowly align yourself with others that have similar goals, aspirations, and dedication to being successful.
Within a few months, I ended up developing a group of friends that I continue to rely on to this day. Three of them graduated the at the top of our class, while others excelled playing varsity sports. Every single one went on to great college, and eventually turned their passions into careers.
1) Loyal People – The kind of people that would always have your back and support you
2) Honest People – I am a no BS, no drama kind of person who encourages his friends to tell it like it is. People who don’t lie and additionally take responsibility for their faults also fall into this category.
3) Driven People – You can tell a lot about an individual if they have that fire and motivation to achieve at something they’re passionate about. It speaks volumes about their character, and the more you surround yourself with these types of people, the more your will succeed at your own endeavors. These people are also less likely to allow life to bring them down, but rather develop a plan to overcome any obstacles.
4) Individuals – Nothing is worse than being a part of a band of followers. I did that for most of my life and will never do that again. It is easier to do so when you surround yourself with others who are unapologetically themselves.
These were the four main characteristics that I looked for in high school and knew if I was too specific, I would only narrow my options. I would not have had these lifelong and healthy relationships without looking for these qualities.
I can only say that ever since that change in high school, I immediately became more confident, self-aware, dedicated, successful, and most importantly, happy. This mindset and forward-thinking has dictated who I allow into my inner circle of loved ones. It has also allowed me to improve my life through gaining an appreciation for specific people, identifying and repairing issues with other relationships, and slowly eliminating those relationships that were detrimental to my life. Each time I evaluated my friends, I came out with better relationships, more confidence in those who are closest to me, and a more positive positive outlook on life..
Now here comes the hard part; This is where you start to really deal with who you are, who you want to be, and who you want to have along that journey. This is typically what I do through this process, but again, this is completely a personal journey and is impossible to create a “one-size fits all” template for each person to evaluate their relationships. This foundations will supply you with a structured way to take a hard look at who you surround yourself with.
If this format isn’t for you, at least leave this post with the following;
I implore you to always reflect on how the people around you are impacting your life. Also, reflect and repair issues that can be fixed. Lastly, make the hard decisions that will maximize the positive factors/influences in your life and minimize the negative.
Step 1) Your Mission Statement
In one concise statement, approximately 1-2 sentences in length, write down your personal mission statement. This mission statement should reflect who you are, who you want to be, what you value in life, and what you want your life to be about.
My personal example: My driving factor in life is being able to be the pillar of support for my friends, family, loved ones, and anyone that I can; in order to be that pillar I have to continuously grow and embark on a journey of lifelong learning. Secondly, always stay true to who I am and to live life on my terms; always forward, never backwards.
Now it may seem corny/over the top but that is a statement that accurately speaks to myself, who I want to be, and the expectations I have for myself. It isn’t easy to write one, so take your time, and don’t worry about sounding fancy or deep, as long as it conveys your personal mission in a way that matches your true feelings.
Step 2) Identifying Characteristics
Identify 3-5 characteristics that you value the most in others that will support you in staying true to your self-developed mission statement (much like I did when I made that first big change for myself in high school).
Step 3) Who Do You Surround Yourself With
Make a list of the people you spend the majority of your time with. I would say to not put down more than 10 people, but don’t feel obligated to put down 10; it is about the people you feel you interact with the most.
Step 4) Analyzing Those Around You
It is important here to be truthful, honest, and unapologetic. For each one of the people you listed above, it is time to really analyze them, their influence on you, and how you will address any areas of concern moving forward.
For each person reflect on and write down the following (feel free to add in anything that you feel is valuable information to yourself, this is just my own process!):
2) Relationship type (Friend, family, etc.)
3) Length of Relationship
4) What characteristics about this person do you admire most?
5) What about this person makes you respect them?
6) How does this person align with your 3-5 characteristics you identified in step 2?
7) In what ways does this person not align with your 3-5 characteristics?
8) As all people have their own quirks and flaws, what concerns come to mind when you think about this person in regards to supporting you in your mission statement and being that positive influence in life you need?
9) Any additional aspects about this person that you feel strongly about that needs to be included
Step 5) Identifying and addressing concerns
Now, you take these people and put them into three categories, the people who are exactly who you want in on this journey, the ones whom you have concerns to address with, and the ones who you know you need to cut ties with..
Remember: It is important that we don’t just go writing everyone off. These people who you have a concern with need the opportunity to know how you feel, be able to react to it, and given the chance to make some changes.
With your major concerns identified, set up a time and place to meet with these people in order to communicate openly and honestly. Make sure to approach this conversation as a loved one or as a dear friend who genuinely cares as the tone of the conversation can change the meaning of your message to them. Clearly and honestly explain to them the issue, how it is impacting you, and welcome them into a discussion in how the two of you can work on this moving forward.
Step 6) Making the hard decisions
Based on the conversation, you may find yourself with a clear decision made. If you try to open up the conversation with someone you deem close to you and it is only met with anger/defensiveness/denial, then this is a clear sign that this is a relationship that will be stagnate beyond repair and overall unnecessary in your life.
If the person welcomes the conversation, then this is the type of relationship that may be worth the investment to rebuild and improve upon. Be conscious of the development and investment that that you both discussed and realize the value you both have in the relationship. From there, it is up to you to be aware of the progress following the conversation and whether or not to continue with it or make the hard decision to slowly cut ties.
Step 7) Repeat when you feel necessary
After you do this process once, trust me, when it is time to do this again, you will feel it, and you will know.