You are the mirror of your influences.
If you want to know how to create a positive change in your life, you should consider your major influences.
Your activities, the movies you watch, the books you read as well as the type of people you interact with all influence your values and shape your identity. These relationships can bring out different facets of your personality and reinforce those qualities over time. If you surround yourself with negative people, read vacuous books and watch an inordinate number of inane sit-coms you’ll be less likely to think positively and creatively.
By contrast, if you hang out with a group of positive-minded individuals who believe in taking responsibility for their lives, you will be more inclined to grow in a positive direction. Your association with pessimists will eventually start a descent into a negative spiral even if you are initially a positive individual.
Consider this exercise: Ask yourself the following questions.
- What kind of person do I want to be?
- What is the ideal self I would like to become and what are the qualities I want to possess?
- Who are the five people I know who embody these qualities?
- Do these people match who I want to become in the future? Do they elevate me or bring me down?
- Are my friends proactive?
- Do they strive to make a contribution somewhere?
- Do they associate with wholesome activities? Do my peers have a healthy balance between work, social, family and their community?
- Are they strictly interested in their own success or do they also reach out to assist others?
Try to be introspective about your relationships not for the sake of being critical but for noting how you can improve yourself. If you attract friends who are balanced, motivated, kind and productive you will be more likely to mimic their behavior.
So here are 3 suggestions if you want to transform yourself:
1. Change who you hang around. Plato said, “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”
For better or worse, we become more like the people we hang around. Our behavior, speech, manners, dialect, interests, outlook, motivation level are all influenced by those in our environment. Knowing that we are swayed by our peers and consciously and subconsciously affected by them is an important principle to accept; since your friends are going to influence you either way, why not pick the friends who will be a positive influence? Seek out people who excel at something and don’t be intimidated by someone who has an aptitude in an area you don’t; the best way to improve yourself is to attach yourself to people who possess a skill or quality you admire and learn from them.
It takes a certain amount of confidence to surround yourself with top-notch people; Chances are this person may have strength in areas where you are weak but he may have a weakness in an area where you’re strong. Don’t always assume that you don’t have something to offer a perceived “winner.” Adopt the mindset that they can learn something from you as well.
Enter every relationship with the mindset that your main goal is to learn from other people and help them grow as well. Eventually you may find that you’re naturally attracted to people who have a positive attitude and are motivated to excel at something. You’ll be emulating their positive behavior without exerting so much effort as they will be your closest connections. Your entire identity will take a 180 shift and your “personal brand” will become tied to these successful people; the way you perceive yourself is how others perceive you. When you hang out with people who are positive, accountable, inspiring and elevated you too will become positive, accountable, inspiring and elevated.
2. Start Reading educational books: Another way to invoke change in your direction is to start reading more. Reading allows you to shape your identity independently of your current circumstances. Books that can increase your knowledge of various topics from History, Science, Business, Art, literature from different periods will expand your mind and could prompt creative thought. You internalize the wisdom and knowledge of the authors who you read. They say that there are two types of experiences that we can learn and grow from: personal experience and the experience that we borrow from others. Reading allows you to learn from mentors who you don’t have access to in your daily life. Learning from other people’s stories of challenges and triumph is far less painful and time-consuming than going through those challenges yourself. That is why most of the world’s greatest leaders have been avid readers.
3. Be selective in the movies you watch. Blend in entertainment which highlights characters who have overcome obstacles and became successful against all odds. Avoid seeing films that merely exploit your senses for a quick thrill or for pure escape. Of course there are times where movies, books, tv shows and even certain friends can help you unwind and refresh by merely engaging in light thought and carefree activities. But if you only go to movies that appeal to your lowest sensibilities you’ll miss the opportunity to be elevated by film and inspired after leaving the theatre to engage in more positive activities.
The occasional blow off movie, book or social excursion is not only fine but can be healthy. But if your dominant pattern or only outlet is blow-off activities, you may reconsider trying some other modes of entertainment, different genres of books and movies and try hanging out with more enlightened friends. In short, you can affect positive change on your personality and your outlook by making a subtle shift in who you choose to spend time with and what you choose to watch and read. Don’t underestimate the power these influencers have on your ability to make constructive changes in your life. Your friends, books and even theatre can assist you in reaching your full potential and in breaking out of your limitations to achieve greater success.
Beth is Founder and President of Get Hired, LLC. She advises students on how to bridge the gap from school to career. Beth is the co-author of From Diploma to Dream Job: Five Overlooked Steps to a Successful Career. Her coaching assists students and career changers to successfully match their needs, interests, passions, skills, and personal goals with the needs of a sustainable industry in a sustainable location. She is a resource for print and online media and offers workshops for University Career Service Departments, Executive Recruiters, Outplacement Services, College Guidance Counselors and College Alumni Associations. See website for more details about Beth’s services www.fromdiploma2dreamjob.com. Beth’s Webinar was sponsored by George Washington University’s Career Services Dept. for their worldwide alumni association: Leverage Your College Diploma. You can follow Beth on twitter @BethKuhel