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Your friends determine your outcomes

Mar 17, 2022

8 ways your friends are influencing you and 3 questions to help you reflect.


When you’re growing up, you have very little control over your circle. Your parents take you from place to place, determine who you can socialize with, and exert control on your social schedule.

What tragedy, right? 8-year-old Kurtis couldn’t socialize with who he wanted...

Wrong! That is the role of a parent.

But, as you get older, you are able to start exerting your own control, sometimes allowed and sometimes by breaking rules.

As I grew into high school, I started making my own choices about who I spent my time with. Friends that had been close when I was young started drifting away and others started drawing closer.

As you go to college, then get a job, then start a life, at each stage, you get to choose who stays and who goes.

Everyone goes about this differently and it’s interesting to see the approach.

Some stay close with those they grew up with.

Some reject all they came from and make a completely new circle.

And the rest straddle both lines.

Jim Rohn has said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

When I first heard that quote it made me pause.

Is that really true?

As I reflected back on my experiences, those that I drifted away from didn’t align with where I wanted to go. I don’t know that I made an active choice in this, but I definitely made a passive one.

As I became aware of the choices being made, I had to ask the question: how am I being influenced by my friends or peer groups?

Here are 8 ways your circle is influencing you.

Your health

Your chance of being obese increased by 57 percent when a friend became obese.

Who you’re around determines how much, when, and what you eat.

Your wealth

Who you’re surrounded with determines the opportunities and knowledge you're exposed to.

Don’t ditch your friends, but don’t reject finding new ones either.

Your mood

Have you noticed that you smile when smiled at? This is known as “sensorimotor simulation.”

We mimic the expressions of others and our expressions affect our mood.

Your outlook

When you’re around people with a negative spin on things, it’s easy for it to seep into your reactions over time.

Don’t be an Eeyore.

Your self worth

If someone tells you you’re worthless repeatedly, you start to believe them.

If someone tells you you’re valuable repeatedly, you start to believe them.

Surround yourself with people who look for the good in you and speak it out loud.

Your responses

Your responses often mirror the response (or expected response) of those around you.

All of us desire to fit in and our responses are a strong signal of how alike we are with the group we’re in.

Choose positivity and respond (instead of reacting).

Your preferences

Just like your response, your preferences are impacted by those around you.

This can include food, style, vacation spots, car choices, and so much more.

Your self-belief & outcomes

Your friends determine your perception of yourself over time.

It's called the Michelangelo effect.

If they see you as you’d like to become, it will make it easier (and more likely) for you to adopt that identity.

When you start to reflect on this, you realize how big of an impact your friends and choices can make.

The reality is they can either lift you up or pull you down.

Who you surround yourself with determines your outcomes.

It’s important to ask yourself, how are you being influenced by your friend and peer groups?

In Atomic Habits, James Clear says we imitate 3 types of groups:

  1. The close

  2. The many

  3. The powerful

When all 3 groups align, it makes habit adoption almost automatic.

You should seek out groups that will reinforce the habits or identities you’re trying to build.

"New habits seem achievable when you see others doing them every day." - James Clear


So, ask yourself these questions:

  • How are my friends influencing me?

  • Is the influence positive or negative?

  • Do I need to find a new group to reinforce the person I’m trying to become?

I discuss this in-depth in my latest podcast:

When adopting a new identity/habit, one of the most powerful things you can do is align yourself with a group seeking the same goal.

In this episode we dig into why joining a group is such a powerful tool and how you can use it to make your new habits stick.


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