If you want to change your life for the better, surround yourself with good people.
How many of us have heard the saying “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” but choose the five people we spend time with in a haphazard way?
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to self-improvement is trying to rely on willpower alone without focusing on the impact their environment has on them.
Imagine you’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight. You’re dead serious about making these important health changes and your willpower meter is full to the brim.
There’s only one problem. Every drawer in your kitchen has junk food in it, there are pies and cakes in the fridge, and you have an entire cooler filled with juice, beer, and soda.
In that environment, it’s not a matter of if you’ll buckle and quit your diet, but when. You’ve set yourself up for failure before you even started.
If you don’t surround yourself with good people, you can experience the same inevitable results in life. If you spend time with losers, you’re going to end up being a loser. The opposite is true too. If you spent a ton of time around active, motivated, and ambitious people, you’d become all three by default because you wouldn’t want to stand out as the lazy one in the group.
It’s no coincidence that people use group dynamics to foster behavior change like AA meetings, group exercise classes, Toastmasters meetings, and book clubs.
Surrounding yourself with good people is one of the main factors to your success in life. You have to rid yourself of the following misguided beliefs that keep you stuck in environments that don’t make your life better or make it worse.
You tell yourself that you’ll be the leader in your peer group. Once you start making changes, everybody else will follow suit.
Instead, people will subconsciously or actively drag you down to their level. I’m not one of these doom and gloom self-help writers that says everyone around you is trying to tear down your dreams. It’s much simpler and a lot less malicious than that.
Human beings love certainty and consistency. It’s hard for you to change because change means being inconsistent with the identity you’ve built for yourself. The same goes for the way people perceive you.
When you suddenly decide you want to change, it throws people off simply because they’re not used to it. Also, most people are full of shit so it comes off as arrogant when you switch things up all of a sudden.
I’m not saying ditch your friends, but I am saying that you shouldn’t expect others around you to change just because you’ve changed. This leads me to my next point.
For the most part, people don’t change. Change is possible but rare. If change was common the self-help industry would be out of business. When dealing with other people, assume that they’re going to stay exactly the same person they are right now.
Avoid the urge to feel like you can fix someone, ever. You see this in people who jump into romantic relationships based on who they think their partner can become instead of who they are.
If a friend or someone you know shows some dodgy behavior or signs of disloyalty, it’s up to you whether or not to forgive them and keep them in the fold, but don’t be surprised if they pull similar behavior in the future. People deserve second chances in life, sure, but you have to ask yourself whether or not they deserve them from you.
None of this is about being machiavellian and ruthlessly curating your friend and peer groups. It’s about having common sense and accepting human nature.
Once you realize that, in most situations, people just can’t help themselves, it’s easier for you to understand why they do what they do without getting angry about it.
You use this understanding to decide what category you want to place each person in your life into.
I had to cut off a friend I’d had for years because his negativity was too much to handle. I normally don’t formally cut anyone off, but in this case, it had to be done. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I still felt guilty because we’d been friends for years.
Had I let the time we spent as friends weigh more than my own well-being, I would’ve ended up in that pit of negativity alongside him. I chose myself. When it comes to who you surround yourself with if it’s the type of situation where it’s their well-being vs yours, always choose yours.
A lot of people run into problems in life because they have a hard time setting boundaries. They let the people in their lives cross their boundaries and remain in their lives which can make the situation worse. Then the sense of guilt and obligation keeps them stuck in relationships with toxic people.
You want to be there for the people you care about and it’s important to have their back, but if it comes at the cost of your future, even if you do help them out you’ll be resentful about it and the resentment will spill into the relationship and make it worse anyway.
All of these points are about setting a boundary around the things that matter most — your time, your mindset, your well-being. At the end of the day, you’re with yourself more than anyone else, so surrounding yourself with good people is a must.
There’s a way to surround yourself with good people without being cold, rude, harsh, or mean. There might be rare instances where you need to be harsh, but for the most part, surrounding yourself with good people happens gradually by spending less time with certain people and more time with others.
There’s a way to do it where you’re not manipulative and cunning. You start to surround yourself with good people as a consequence, a byproduct, of the way you’re living. I used to drink, party, and do drugs all the time so I surrounded myself with people who did the same.
I change my peer group by changing myself. The more time I spent working on myself the less I felt like drinking, partying, and doing drugs. My friends would ask me to do these things and I told them no.
Not because I was turning up my nose at them, but because I genuinely didn’t want those activities to get in the way of my new life. Some people were cool with it and we spent time in different environments. For those people that I only bonded with through partying, the relationships naturally ran their course.
When it came to surrounding myself with good people, it happened as a result of my lifestyle changes. I started to gravitate toward people and activities geared toward self-improvement, both on and offline. For many of you, making online connections will be important because it’s rare to stumble upon a bunch of people who are into the new life changes you’re making.
You know the basics when it comes to surrounding yourself with good people, here are a few ideas to keep in mind and types of people you should look to bring into your life.
The law of 33 percent works like this:
When I use levels, it has nothing to do with anyone’s inherent quality. We’re all equal. It’s about using some worldly measures of success to grow and learn.
I have business coaches with more experience and revenue than I do. I keep in touch with writers who have similar audience sizes and revenue. Then, I teach beginners the ins and outs of how to become a writer.
Spending time with those above me gives me insights I didn’t know and inspires me to get better. Contemporaries also keep you sharp through healthy competition.
Teaching others solidifies your knowledge and it’s a way of paying it forward the same way more experienced people played a role in making your life better.
Often, you’ll get access to people above your level through studying them. Yes, you can have experienced mentors in your personal life, but the online world helps create the same effect, which leads to my next point.
This is going to be a weird way to start a point, but it makes sense.
Why do you get aroused watching porn when you know that you’re not having sex with an actual person? Even though you logically know they’re not really there, your lizard brain doesn’t. It really thinks you’re about to have sex, so it makes the necessary, erm, bodily adjustments.
A lighter example. Why do you cry when a character you love dies in a T.V. show or movie? If you run into an actor who played a villain you hated, you might have real feelings of animosity toward them. It’s the same effect at play.
You’re probably not going to have access to a bunch of super successful people, but you can surround yourself with good people even though you’ll never meet them. Your media inputs have the same effect on your mind as real people.
People ask me how I seem so wise for a thirty-two-year-old. This quote comes to mind:
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
On top of reading books, I’ve watched countless hours of educational content on YouTube, listened to podcasts, audiotapes, you name it. These people became my personal cabinet of mentors. Build your cabinet.
Also, you have to be careful of the negative media inputs in your life. If you listen to outrage bait news, watch tons of mindless content, listen to music with negative undertones, and watch nothing but dark and traumatizing drama T.V. shows, it’s going to have an effect on you. Most people understand this, but not to its full extent.
You never want to be overly cold and calculated, but it’s important to become a savvy observer of human beings. Also, without being transactional, it makes sense to weigh the benefits of having certain people in your life as well as what you can provide for them.
Look for mutually beneficial relationships everywhere you go and seek to build allies along the way. Be more intentional about the relationships you build instead of just falling into all of your relationships blindly or out of proximity.
Having a personal code for the type of person you are and what you want from life makes this process easier. You know who to let in and who to filter out. This has nothing to do with their status or standing in the world and everything to do with their character. There are rich snakes and loyal people with no money.
There are people who can help you financially, spiritually, emotionally, and vice versa. The ultimate rule for surrounding yourself with good people: treat everyone with dignity and respect from the janitor to the CEO. Not because there’s any virtue in it either, but because it’s just the right way to live.
So you go about your life being a great example to others and building valuable relationships with solid people along the way.
You can have friends who help you mellow out, enjoy life, and take things less seriously (the ones you grew up with are good for this). You can have high-powered and motivated acquaintances and colleagues you have more formal business relationships with.
Make fast friends with all the retail, service, and food staff in your town. Hang out with high cultured witty types for book smarts and savvy people who don’t have the highest IQ but have the street smarts to navigate life.
Choose a romantic partner who shares your values and has a similar vision for their lives. While in a relationship, make sure to maintain your relationships with other people and avoid the relationship becoming the only social foundation in your life.
If you’re shy and awkward, hang out with charismatic and confident people. If you want to get better at business, hang out with entrepreneurs. Find different scenes of people who live the lifestyle you want to live and they’ll rub off on you.
You get the gist. If you surround yourself with good people in this holistic and natural way instead of cold and calculated networking, you’ll have genuine relationships you value and level up your life at the same time.