Pushing you forward or pulling you back?

‘You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with’

Jim Rohn once said that, and it has permeated through self-help books, personal development courses and coaching seminars ever since. But just how true is that? And what, or who, could be holding you back from the life you really deserve?….

Christmas is always a fascinating time of year for people. Work goes on hold for most, and a well earned rest combined with over-indulgence and a few family fights over a game of Monopoly or Pictionary normally take place as standard. Christmas is also a time when people tend to return home to spend time with family and friends in our home towns and cities. People we haven’t seen for months or even years pop up out of nowhere and the inevitable small talk begins.

Your old school friend Chris has been travelling for a year and always talked about coming back to London to carry on his job as an investment banker when he was done travelling. He said he’d miss the lifestyle too much. But now he tells you he’s quit his job and is planning to start an self sustainable eco-community project with a group of friends he met whilst travelling. There seems to be a real objection from a lot of people and nobody can understand why he would want to leave his incredible life to do something like that.

Your sister-in-law has had enough of being a teacher and you can see that she’s exhausted and really not happy. She really wants to start her own business and every time she talks about it you see her eyes light up, and her energy changes. But when you’re sat around the dinner table, the rest of the family just seems to focus on the risks and things that could go wrong. “Nobody likes going to work” they tell her “It’s just something we all have to do”.

Your nephew has recently decided to get himself a job in construction and is enjoying earning his own money now, and the routine of daily work life seems to be doing him favours. But his sense of humour seems to have shifted dramatically since the last time you saw him, he’s started smoking and he’s been swearing like a trooper since he arrived. Weird.

Is this just random? Is this a product of your environment? Are your surroundings and peers pushing you to be the best version of yourself? Or are they holding you back because of their own insecurities, regrets, and jealousy?

Look past the words to the person who is speaking them.

A recent study by the CIPD found that 55% of people in the workplace in the UK feel ‘under excessive pressure, exhausted or regularly miserable’. Nearly half of all jobs failed to provide decent career development. 30% have workloads that are ‘unmanageable’. The reality is that a lot of people hate their jobs, are unhappy in their relationships and their quality of life. With those kinds of statistics, is it any wonder that there are so many unhappy, unfulfilled, nay-sayers out there? “That’s impossible” “That is so stupid” “That will never work” “You should just stick to what you’ve got, keep it simple, wait until you’ve done xyz”…… Do you recognise these people around you?

Despite what a lot of people think, almost every decision is reversible. (Unless you’re planning to get involved in the Space-X Project, head off to Mars and never come back) - You can come back from travelling anytime you like. You can find another job. You can start a new career. It’s never to late to make a difference. You CAN move back to the city if you don’t like life in the countryside. You CAN change direction once you’re moving, but you CAN’T steer a parked car. So if you really want something, surround yourself with people who are going to help you figure out HOW you can, not people who will just list off reasons WHY you shouldn’t.

“But what if you fail?”… “What if it doesn’t work?”… “But but but but but”… Let me make something abundantly clear; There is no such thing as failure unless you fail to learn from that experience. If you learnt from it, then it was a valuable life lesson that you can use in almost every aspect of your life from that day forward.

Michael Jordan - “Should have just quit” - Rejected from his high school basketball team before becoming arguably the greatest player in the history of the game.

J.K Rowling - A divorced, single mother on benefits who was “way too old to become an author” who became the first billionaire author in history.

Morgan Freeman - Really didn’t hit the bigtime in Hollywood until he was in his 50’s…. but it’s too late for you to start a new hobby or career, right?

Jesse Owens - The grandson of a slave, at a time when most African-Americans were banned from professional sports. Travelled to Berlin in 1939 to compete in some of the toughest conditions one could ever think of for an athlete. Owens walked away with 4 Olympic Gold medals after competing in front of 100,000 people, including Adolf Hitler, in Nazi Germany. Let that sink in for a second…..

Colonel Sanders - KFC anyone? Dropped out of school at 13 and retired at 65 dependent on social security payments. One day he decided he was a pretty good cook, borrowed some money and sold his fried chicken door to door…. Became a billionaire at 88 years old.

Close your eyes and imagine….

Can you imagine what would happen to your fitness and quality of health if you woke up 30 minutes earlier and went for a walk, did some exercise, some reading or practiced some mindfulness or meditation. Do the people in your life right now inspire you to do those kind of things?

Can you imagine how much progress you would make if you just dedicated 1 hour a day to a new endeavor, a new hobby, a new business or qualification? I challenge you that you CAN find that hour if you really want to change your life for the better. There are networking groups in your city, like minded people to connect with and so much more out there if you really want to take the jump.

What if you really invested in yourself for a change, instead of temporary instant gratification? “I can’t afford it” may be true for a lot of people. But there are endless free resources out there and if you really think hard and decide that your Netflix subscription, new car finance and Starbucks coffees are more valuable than your health and happiness, then good luck to you.

A final thought, from those people who never took that chance.

Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who wrote a book about the most common regrets of dying patients, and found that the biggest regret of those living their final days was particularly relevant to this article. So decide what would really make you happy and just go get it! The number 1 regret of dying patients?…

‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.’

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Ed Smith