Have you ever stopped and thought about who your influences are? If you haven’t, I would encourage you to take a few minutes to think about it.
There is a quote that has come up a lot in the last 3-4 years while on my debt freedom journey– “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
The quote is great because of how accurate it is. Naturally, you want to hang around people that make you better and avoid people who bring you down.
Being a graduate fresh out of college, you are easily influenced by other people. For example, your peers, social media, and celebrities. Having those influences (especially in this day and age) can lead you adrift and waste your time doing things that will not benefit you in the future.
Who Influences me
I know for me it was easy to follow the crowd in college. I didn’t think about all the debt that was accruing. All the people I hung out with had student loans too, so it wasn’t something I was worried about at the time. To be honest, I was more interested in playing basketball and poker with my friends. I didn’t have the drive to create a side income, build a business, learn marketable skills, or graduate debt free. Although I think there is nothing wrong with spending time with friends doing things I enjoy, I didn’t find influencers that pushed me to do more with my time.
After college and once I started paying off debt, I started to become influenced by others with similar goals. It started with my older sister (who paid off $100k + of Student Loans) influencing me to get in control of my debt situation by creating a debt payoff plan. Then during my debt freedom journey by following influencers like Dave Ramsey, Ramit Sethi, and many personal finance books. Shortly after I discovered Mint.com, Reddit’s personal finance forum, and the Radical Personal Finance podcast. All of those influences led to following many more personal finance podcasts, blogs, and books along the way.
It’s kinda crazy to think that once I found the right people (and platforms) to follow, I was able to achieve my goals and put myself on the path of the life I want to live.
Auditing My Influences
Now, I audit where I spend my time and who I spend my time with.
I try to spend my time with people with similar interests and goals. Doing this allowed me to “double down” on my good friendships and weed out the people who have different interests and plans than I do. I try to spend time with anyone who is passionate and takes action in whatever they are doing (not all talk). Also, people with considerable amount of wisdom from their experiences. My personality ends up drifting away from negativity, self-absorbed, and materialistic traits.
I am pretty lucky to have a great girlfriend and family who push me to be the best I can be. I also have a great group of friends back home in San Antonio that I continue to learn from and enjoy being around.
The power of the internet has connected me to many other people with similar interests. I was lucky enough to meet a lot of them at Fincon this year. Additionally, through blogging, I met my mentor, Jillian, this year. She has been a great influencer for me. She has helped tremendously in planning, taking action, and keeping me accountable to reach my goals.
There are good and bad influences that we deal with on an everyday basis. Most of the time its through some screen – Phone, TV, computer, etc.
There are good influences, like reading books, listening to podcasts/audiobooks, or following influencers with similar goals on platforms like Youtube. If you spend your time following positive outside influences, you will set yourself up for success.
Check out my favorite books and podcasts on my recommendations page
Beware of Negative Influences
There are also outside influences that you should try to avoid.
I am a big fan of tracking your time to see patterns of time spent with negative outside influences. Once you are aware of the time you spend with a particular person (or thing), it’s easier to make a plan to spend your time in better ways.
Related post – I’m Tracking Everything
Avoid these Influences
Below are a few outside influences where I am trying to reduce spending my time on or with. A portion of this list was inspired by one of my favorite books – Set For Life by Scott Trench
- TV/Netflix – I try to avoid watching TV in general because its a waste of time and doesn’t help me reach my goals. I know that might sound a little bit harsh, but I believe it to be true. My GF and I do like to watch Netflix, but it turns into a big time suck most of the time – so I try to limit my viewing as much as possible.
- Spending time with people Who Eat Out too much – Everyone eats out from time to time, but I am trying hard lately to limit eating out. Most of the time it’s unhealthy and expensive. If I do go out to eat, I try to plan for it and avoid going out because I didn’t plan.
- Social Media – Like Netflix social media becomes a huge time suck if you’re not intentional about it. It’s easy to be influenced by others which can cause you to spend unnecessarily. It can also be easy to have the “keeping up with the Jones” mindset over time.
- Music/radio – Funny thing is I work for a company that specializes in music, but over the last year, I have grown uninterested. I will listen from time to time, but every time I’m in my car I treat it as an opportunity to listen to a podcast or audiobook. Music is like TV for me – waste of time and doesn’t help me reach my goals.
- Spending time with people who party too much – like eating out spending time with people who love to go out all the time is probably not going to be a positive thing long term.
- Spending time with people who go shopping a lot – Sure, you need “stuff” from time to time, but if hanging out with friends means spending money on things you probably don’t need it’s not worth it. (I have no problem with planning out intentional purchases in advance though).
Every day you are being influenced by people and things whether you know it or not. If you want to be the best you can be it’s essential that you surround yourself with positive influences that will help you meet your goals.
Avoid people and things that take you away from your goals – even if you have been around them your entire life. It can make a huge difference in your future success.
Question for you.
What influencers do you follow and how have they impacted your life?
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