Businesses take inventories regularly to recalibrate, confirm and set themselves up for a successful future.
At this time of the year, people often reflect and “take stock” (a clear reference to inventory) of their progress as a start to looking forward to a successful future.
While there are many things you could be measuring, considering and thinking about at this time of the year, I’m going to suggest you take an unusual inventory. This isn’t likely one you have considered often, and won’t be one written about much in the coming days, but it could be as influential as any you could undertake. I’m encouraging you to take an inventory of your associations and relationships.
It’s been said that the only things that will change us in the next five years are the books we read and the people we associate with. I’m not sure it is quite that cut-and-dried, but there is no question that we are influenced greatly by the people we spend our time with.
These people influence our attitude, the information we collect, the perspective we have, the language we use and so much more. Yet most people don’t make conscious choices about who we meet and who we spend our time with. As important as these associations and relationships are, it makes sense to use some control and choice in the matter.
Take this inventory by asking these three questions . . .
Who am I spending time with? Make a list of the people you have spent the most time with over the past year (or few months). Like an inventory, list who these people are, and if you can, some rough amount of time spent with each (or perhaps put people on three lists based on the overall amount of time you’ve spent with them).
How are they impacting me? This is the key question. For each person, think about the time spent with him or her, the topics of conversation, and how you felt before, during and after your interactions. Examine how he or she is influencing you, your attitude, emotions and more.
Is this what I want? Once you have done this analysis, determine if that influence is what you want more of in your life or not. Is your interaction with that person serving your health, wealth and happiness? Or is that person’s influence on you an obstacle in your path?
After you have taken the inventory, now it is time to take action based on your insights. Consider the following actions based on the results of your inventory.
Let them go. There may be some people on your list you realize are a hindrance to you and your future. If so, look for ways to release them from your sphere of influence. This isn’t easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly, yet making this change may have a significant positive influence on your life . . . and it is your life.
Limit your interaction. Even if you want to, there may be some people you can’t, or choose not to completely disassociate from—co-workers, customers and family members come to mind. In these cases, the key idea is intentional interaction. While you will need to be with these people, find ways to limit the interaction or manage the conversations and situations in new ways. Be aware of how these people have influenced you in the past and resolve to be more immune to it, or even try to change the conversations or interactions in the future.
Expand and increase. Perhaps the most important part of this exercise, the idea here is to make time for those positive influences and situations. Further, look for ways to meet and interact with more people who will be a positive influence on your attitude, emotions and thoughts. Think about who you can learn from and who you want to emulate. Be proactive in getting to know them (adding them to your associations) and/or spending more time with them.While not easy or obvious, this conscious and intentional exercise might be the most important inventory you could ever take.