Jom Rohn said “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
Think about this. Consider your habits, your income, your lifestyle, your social skills, you outlook on life and your overall happiness.
Consider whether you are the kind of person who pursues their dream with undying relentlessness, or if you get drunk every weekend to forget about how shitty your work week was. Think about how many times you hit the gym last week and the kind of choices you made in regards to your diet.
Are you as healthy as you want to be? Are you fulfilled spiritually? Are you doing work that matters to you?
No matter the answer, you can thank the 5 people you spend the most time with. (Actually, you can thank yourself because you are ultimately responsible for who you spend time with and every other aspect of your life.)
The reason for this is peer expectations. The phrase “peer pressure” often brings to mind a middle school DARE video on the ability to say to no someone who offers you drugs. This person is often depicted as a shady crack dealer on a street corner, but we all know that in reality it is our best friend, our girlfriend or our older brother who offers us drugs or alcohol for the first time. The thing is, peer pressure is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a very good thing.
Your willpower is weak! That’s right. So is mine. Without built in accountability and peer pressure it is almost impossible to stick to our goals over the long run. Do you think you would have stuck it through 12 years of primary education had it not been from the societal pressure around you? I doubt it, though you may have been better off leaving early as that was generally a huge waste of time.
Peer pressure acts as a guiding force in our lives whether we like it or not. It comes in the form of society’s expectations our parents idea of success, our peers views on health and exercise, our spouses ideas about money and on and on. If everyone in your life expects you to eat healthy, you’re going to think twice about ordering that big mac or eating that chocolate cake. Your body will trigger an emotional response based on past experiences and the reactions of others to your behavior. Your will remember (at least subconsciously that you will get a more positive reaction in the future, and you will gain acceptance by making healthy food choices. The same can be said about every other choice in your life. In a sense, we are all Pavlonian experiments although instead of Ivan Pavlov training us to salivate at the ring of a bell, we are trained in every aspect of our lives by those around us. It’s called social conditioning.
So what does this mean for you?
Well, think about your ideal life. Do you want to be running your own business? Maybe traveling full time, or helping those in need? Don’t pretend that you have free will, because as much as you would like to, you are more like Pavlov’s dogs. The good news is, you can choose who your trainers are. Go out there and surround yourself with people who live the kinds of lives that you want to live. You’ll start to notice small changes in weeks, and within a year or two you will be living a completely different life without having noticed how you got there.
Ring ring… i’m getting hungry.