Show Me Your Friends and I Will Show You Your Future
“Show Me Your Friends and I Will Show You Your Future”
A powerful statement and maybe one you can relate to personally. I know I can. I remember growing up my parents incessantly telling me to be careful who I hang around with.
“If so and so is a troublemaker, he’ll bring you down with him.”
“Is he a positive influence on you?”
Or how about this one:
“Even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you will be found guilty by association.”
I heard that from my parents all the time (for good reason I suppose). Of course I heard what my parents were saying, but I wasn’t always listening if you know what I mean. I would sort of brush it off because I could take care of myself and knew how to pick my own friends. Or so I thought…
My friends were by no means little angels, and I can’t say I was either. We got in our fair share of trouble and mischief growing up, but more or less, we made sure to stay on the right side of the law (or at least not get caught…). And we never got into any huge trouble that would have been life altering.
While I was a little mischievous throughout high school and college years, I did maintain good grades. I knew there would be a lot of pressure from my parents if I let my studies slip. But I found that it is true, when you start down a path in life it can be hard to adjust. My buddies and I were all cruising toward a life of mediocrity, becoming increasingly more mischievous as we aged. It was only a matter of time before we did something real stupid, something that couldn’t be fixed, something that was life altering.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
– Proverbs 13:20
Then, one day in college, I specifically remember a lesson my marketing professor gave my class. She gave a lecture on how we need to make sure we are hanging around with the right crowd. She told a story of a friend she had that failed pretty miserably on a doctoral thesis and was criticized by the committee for it. He took his failure as a call to action, he needed to make a change. He suddenly began dressing much more professionally around campus, ditching old friends and hanging around different crowds, and becoming more active in pursuing discussions with professors, etc. All in all, he was changing his behavior to help himself reach his goals.
It was actually a little funny, as she was telling us this story I was thinking to myself that my professor was on the opposite end of her friends change. I would guess that she, along with others, was essentially the influence he was looking to avoid. But that’s beside the point. He knew what he wanted in life and wasn’t afraid to make drastic changes to help him get there, even if that meant changing who he was associating with.
His doctoral thesis was a wakeup call and a moment of eye-opening clarity for him. It represented his changing point in life where the path he was on abruptly took a tangent and he got back on the right track.
“The Company we keep can shape more than just the outcome of a situation, but these individuals can actually shape who we are and inevitably, who we become.”
While listening to my professor at the time, I sort of brushed off the warning call yet again. I knew what I was doing, I enjoyed the company I kept, and my life will turn out just fine, thank you very much.
But looking back on things now I realize how completely wrong I was. While I did not heed the advice my professor gave me that day, I have always remembered it. I wasn’t associating with folks that were going to help me get to where I needed to be. If I would have continued down that previous path, who knows where I’d be today. But I likely would not be on the path toward financial independence and earlier retirement like I am now.
So what happened in my life that finally resulted in my path being corrected? There was one thing, and it is very easy for me to pinpoint. My eventual wife entered my life. We began dating and I began hanging out with my old crowd less frequently. I had a new crowd, a positive influence in my life, a crowd that would lead me to greater things in life. And she entered my life just in the nick of time. Metaphorically speaking, she was the lighthouse that saved me as I was nearing the rocks that could have potentially wrecked me.
If the quotations don’t make it painfully clear, the moral of the story, quite frankly, is to hang out with the right crowd. A crowd that has the same values and goals in life as you do, the crowd with a similar mindset to managing personal finances, a crowd that has similar career ambitions (or is motivated to advance their career), and a crowd that will help you achieve your goals.
If you want to reach financial independence and retire early, you may want to associate more with folks that view personal finance in a similar manner. And likewise, associate less with folks that are less motivated than you in terms of pursuing and advancing their career or folks who spend money like there is no tomorrow.
If you are hanging with a crowd that doesn’t have the same career and personal finance goals as you, it may ultimately lead to you being less ambitious with your career or more frivolous with your money. You may find yourself spending more on dining out with that crowd, or spending more on material things like shopping, a fancy house or car, etc. And before you know it your finances are a mess: debt up to your eyeballs, retirement savings in disarray, your career going nowhere fast, etc.
Alternatively, finding the right crowd will allow you to feed off their energy and have a positive influence on your life.
Call to Action
While you may read this article and brush it off like I did with the warnings I received from my parents and eventually my marketing professor, consider this your warning. Let it serve as your eye opening moment. Evaluate your friends. Are you making the most prudent financial decisions? Are there minor changes that can be made? Or do you need to take a sharp tangent in your life, find a new crowd, and get your personal finances in order?
Or if you feel you have the right crowd and are on the right financial path, can you reflect back and pinpoint the moment you realized you got your life back on track. Did you have an eye opening moment where you realized you needed to find a new crowd?
This post represents the second installment in a series meant to inspire and motivate you to live a cleaner, better, and purpose driven life; a life striving toward long term financial freedom and happiness. If you missed the first installment, Opportunities Multiply as They are Seized, I hope you check it out now!
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach