“People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. Your life experience will never far exceed the expectations of your peers, because to stay connected to them there is an unconscious contract that says ‘we’re going to be within this range of each other.' Now, on the other hand, if for some reason your friends have a higher expectation for life than you do, just to stay on the team you’ve got to raise your standard.” ― Anthony Robbins
Humans are naturally social creatures. Regardless of whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert they still have a need for the comfort of human interaction. Whether this happens at home, at work or in the course of our day to day lives, this drive to connect and communicate is one that we all share.
I was listening to a seminar a few weeks ago and the speaker shared a quote by Jim Rohn; “we are the sum of five people we spend the most time with”. She suggested that one of the success factors in achieving our goals was always being aware of whether the people we spent the most time with were actively supporting or hindering our journey and it got me thinking that this theory is just as applicable to our financial goals as to our other life goals.
Last week I wrote about the importance of getting out of our comfort zone and into a growth zone with our finances. When you look at the natural world you see that everything is part of a process that is moving forward; the life cycle of plants and animals, the seasons and the various natural landscapes are all shaped by an ever moving process. The concept of constantly evolving rather than remaining in the same comfortable space is a natural thing and yet, because we have the ability to resist much of the change in our lives, sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a space that is too small for our goals and yet too cosy to leave.
Safety in Numbers
I’ve mentioned before that the brain does not like change. As far as the brain is concerned Change = uncertainty and uncertainty = potential pain so therefore change must also = potential pain which makes it a bad idea. So if your brain is averse to change, the effect is amplified when each of your closest friends also thinks that your changing is a bad idea. There is safety in the familiarity of the status quo, safety in the constancy of everyone fitting neatly into their assigned roles within friendships and relationships and when someone sets a goal that threatens to take them out of that role and into the unknown it can trigger all kinds of reactions in those closest to them. Often, those reactions are unsupportive. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who support your goals and who are committed towards achieving their own can be extremely powerful when it comes to getting and staying motivated. I’m a big believer in the theory that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime and I think this is especially true when it comes to friendships. If the people you spend the most time with aren’t growing with you then it might be time to expand your circle and make new friends.
Learning What You Don’t Know
As children we have parents, teachers and other influential adults who can guide and shape us as we grow. Their experience and values together with the knowledge they bring to any situation give us a perspective and insight that we don’t have and often it’s this knowledge that helps us in making decisions. Similarly, as adults, if we associate ourselves with people who are already where we want to be it opens our minds and expands our vision, making us aware of things we were unaware of and demonstrating different ways to approach our lives and our goals. As any teen entering High School will tell you, it can be an uncomfortable thing to be a small fish in a much bigger pond. However, over time your comfort and confidence increase and your experiences prepare you for the point where you are equipped to handle being the big fish in the pond and then, as you move on to the next stage, the cycle starts all over again. If you take a step back and look at your situation, consider whether your financial situation and your goals make you a big or small fish in your social pond. If you’re a big fish what do you need to change about your circumstances and your social circle in order to move into a space where you have room to grow? Most importantly, what is holding you back from making that move?
Life is about movement and creating a strong financial future through building wealth also requires ongoing movement and growth. If you’re not where you want to be or if you’re striving to define what it is that you’re working towards then perhaps all you really need is an outside opinion or a change of perspective. All things are possible, but only if we’re willing to take the leap and risk a little discomfort in the name of building a better life.