Being smart and talented is not the single most important factor that determines one’s level of success in life. What you will discover over time is the fact that your success in life is determined to a large extent by the people you spend your time with.

The issue of choosing friends is usually taken lightly but it goes a long way to determine the course one’s life will take on the long run.

How talented and smart you are, where you were born and the family environment you grew up in all play some role as to how successful you will be in life but in comparison to the impact of surrounding yourself with people who can lift you higher, it doesn’t compare.
An individual may be born into riches but live an unsuccessful life while someone from more humble beginnings may be able to achieve his dreams and become successful in a short time. This is all because of the company they keep, and this influences their way of thinking and how they view success.
You need to take a moment to reflect on these:
Who are the people you spend most of your time with?
Do they motivate you or drain you?
Do they elevate you or bring you down?
Are they proactive go-getters who aspire to do great things and who posses qualities that you admire or are they people who just sit and criticize?

Your honest answers to these questions will go a long way in helping you determine the influence your friends are having on you. It will help you know whether they are really your friends or just disguised foes who are subtly bringing you down (intentionally or unintentionally)
Your friends can influence your life in a far more powerful way than you imagine. You wouldn’t intentionally allow a person to alter your desired course in life but influence is subtle and a daily nudge in the wrong direction can take you off course. They don’t just influence your decisions but they can alter your view of the world, change your perception and turn you into a different person.
This is how they do it:
-They change your beliefs about things. Many people have a pessimistic view of things because of the continuous programming they received from their friends in the form of suggestions that are repeated over and over such as “It is very hard to find a job these days” “Things can only get worse” “People like us don’t usually amount to anything in life”
– They affect your self confidence. If your friends think that you are not capable of achieving something, it is very likely that you will begin to accept their opinion of you. If they have zero ambition, their lack of ambition can be contagious. As the saying goes, “You can’t soar like an eagle when you hang out with chickens.”
– They affect your behavior. Your friends’ behavior often rubs off on you. If you are always around someone who is always feeling anxious, afraid or helpless, you will begin to feel the same.
So you see that your friends affect your life to a great extent. It therefore becomes necessary that you surround yourself with people who will add positively to your life and to whom you will also be of help.

The good thing about spending time with positive minded people who have a habit of chasing their dreams and believe in taking responsibility for their lives is that you will be inclined to grow in a positive direction as well.

Over the years, I’ve had to carefully choose my friends and I am grateful for the friends I have now. They have been of great positive influence. They are people who aspire to do great things and being around them has helped me a great deal. I have often told myself that if I am asked to choose my friends all over again, I will still choose these same people. Not that they are perfect people, no one is. And lest you think that my relationship with them is a parasitic one where I am the only who benefits, it is not. It is rather a symbiotic one because they have also benefited from having me as a friend and together we make a team of ‘unstoppable’ people who want to make something meaningful out of the life and talents that God has given us.

Therefore in this New Year as you progress on your journey of life, it is necessary for you to evaluate your friendships. You need to ask yourself how helpful your association with these people has been over the years. Have they helped to bring out the best in you or have they done the opposite?
You may need to relinquish old friendships and cultivate new ones. Your current friends may be likeable people so it may be difficult to let go but consider the fact that holding on tightly to them is detrimental to your progress in life. Your pursuit of a better life requires fortitude to severe ties when necessary.

While it is good to be nice to people and be able to relate with all kinds of people, it is also necessary that you choose who you closely associate with. You cannot entirely avoid spending time with co-workers or relatives but you can limit the amount of time you spend with them. Hence, you may not have to end some relationships but you need to be prudent in how you spend time with people. By limiting the time you spend with them, you limit their influence on your attitude and dreams. But even then, you have to be discerning because subtle influence can have a cumulative effect.

It will also be good for you to expand your circle of influence. That is, look for successful people and spend time with them. Spending a short amount of time with someone who can encourage and educate you will propel you in the right direction. Seek people and read books by people who have skills and qualities that you admire and learn from them. You can always learn something from someone regardless of where he is in his own life.

Let me end with these words from Robin Sharma,
“Associate only with positive, focused people who you can learn from and who will not drain your valuable energy with uninspiring attitudes. By developing relationships with those committed to constant improvement and the pursuit of the best that life has to offer, you will have plenty of company on your path to the top of whatever mountain you seek to climb.”

Have a blessed year.

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