If you are a parent, you are familiar with these thoughts and feelings . . .
Who is my child hanging out with? Do I know the parents of those kids? What kinds of influences are they subject to?
These are natural considerations of a loving parent. After all, we know that children are influenced by their peers – and we want the influence to be a positive one, not a negative one. We think about this from the time our kids start school, and for virtually all of the time they are in school.
Yet, when was the last time you thought about who you are associating with?
After all, you are just as impacted by your associations as your kids are by theirs'. It’s time to be thinking about this for yourself. Let’s start with three questions.
Who are you spending your time with?
How are they influencing you? What are these associations leading you to think about, read, listen, watch and do? These questions may take, and warrant, your time and attention.
Is this the influence you want or need? Are these associations and their influence helping you reach your goals? Maybe your reflection on these questions leave you with a resounding “Yes!” But maybe some of your associations aren’t helping – or are even hurting you.
With your attention to these answers, you can begin to handle or manage relationships or associations that are holding you back. Here are three possible next steps . . .
1. Move on. If your association with someone creates negative habits, thoughts or stress, you may have identified a person that you don’t want to spend time with anymore. This is not an easy decision, nor something you should take lightly, but in some cases it may be necessary. This difficult choice could lead you to much greater results, productivity and happiness.
2. Limit them. Maybe you can’t or don’t want to remove someone from your associations or life, but you don’t have to invite them to dinner every week! Consciously spend more time with those whose influence is positive and affirming and less with those who have minimal or negative influence on you.
3. Expand and engage. I hope you focus here. Work to spend more time with those who support you, challenge you and spur you toward your goals. Since you know these associations are helpful to you (and likely this is true for the other person), look for more of them!
You know it is true for your kids – the right influences and associations can make all the difference in their future. The same is true for you. It’s time to get intentional and put more of the right relationships and associations in your life.