Does Your Support Group Have Your Back?

It’s frequently said that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. So, in other words, if you spend your time with blamers and complainers, or with couch potatoes and TV addicts, you’ll end up blaming, complaining, sitting on the couch, and watching TV.

But, on the other hand, if you spend your time with achievers, goal-setters, readers, and successful people, you’ll take on those characteristics, too. You’ll set goals and achieve them, you will read, learn and become accomplished, and you will be a successful person, just like your friends do.

Suppose your goal is to go back to school to get your graduate degree while you are still working at your job. A friend who supports that goal will invite you to come over on Sunday afternoon to study while she reads. You get to spend time together without deviating from your plan to achieve your goal.

On the other hand, a friend who doesn’t support your goal will urge you to take time off from studying or to skip class so that you can get together for something fun. She may make comments belittling your efforts or downplaying the reward you will get when you get your degree.

Who do you spend your time with? Are they people who will help you achieve your goals and make your dreams come true, or people who will stand in your way? If your support group doesn’t support you, it may be time to do a friend overhaul.

Replacing friends can be really tough. Some of the people holding you back may be family members, your dearest and oldest friends, or even your spouse. It may seem cruel to distance yourself from such important people and you may not want to do it.

There are a few approaches you can take when you face that dilemma. First, you can speak to your old friends and try to win them over. Tell them that you value their friendship and want to keep them close. Explain that you have set a goal for yourself and want their support.

But you may need to focus your time and energy on different activities than you are used to. And though you may spend less time with them, try to include them in your celebrations when you meet your goals, or the intermediate steps on the way to your goals.

Second, you can find new friends without dumping your old friends. Go out and seek them. Find them in the places you go to achieve your goals – places like your graduate school classes, the gym or your book group. Look for goal-oriented, high energy people who understand your efforts to improve your life because they are trying to improve their lives, too.

You can also find new friends online. Join membership sites that teach skills and provide support for people interested in the same goals that you are. Facebook has thousands of groups and pages aimed at forming communities of people who share a particular interest. Forums and message boards are also good places to look.

If achieving your goals is important to you, you will need to have a support group that will help you keep motivated and focused. You will also need fellow travelers to share your experiences with, toss around ideas with and get practical advice from.

Don’t leave your old friends too far behind. But be sure that you have a support group that’s got your back.