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The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Other people’s thoughts and behaviors influence you. The people with whom you surround yourself affect your potential. This isn’t just speculation.

A person’s economic mobility is largely determined by the county they live in.[1] Children from low income communities are less likely to have high earning potential than their affluent peers. It’s hard to break out of your surroundings.

Groups of friends may subconsciously pick up one another’s behaviors and living style. They use similar phrases when they speak, and they may influence each other’s clothing choices.

The effect of peer groups has not gone unnoticed in the corporate world as Jim Rohn quote,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

When we surround ourselves with strong, high-achievers with good character, we are more likely to become just like them. On the other hand, imagine how much of a negative influence low-achievers can have on you. If your five best friends have a poor outlook on life and are satisfied with sub-par performance, then there’s a good chance that some of that negativity will rub off on you.

Others’ Influence Is Easily Overlooked

In order to improve your life, associate with people with higher standards than you. If you have high expectations for yourself and you surround yourself with people who also have bold expectations, you’ll have a greater quality of life.

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Everything that you allow into your life and every action you take reflects who you are. Tony Robbins once said,

“Let your grind be a reflection of the standards that you have set for yourself.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the fanciest things or work in the corner office right away, but it does mean that you do the best with whatever means you have. You don’t have to be top dog at the company to do excellent work. You don’t have to be wealthy to keep things organized. Going above and beyond will take you to the next level of success.

If you feel like you’re stagnating in your current situation, it might be time to make some changes. Change and growth can arise when you make conscious choices about your environment.

Beyond aspiring to improve your environment, keeping better company can go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. You can’t go through your life without people, and the types of people with whom you associate can impact your work.

For example, if your friends tend to waste lots of time on their phones and social media, you might be drawn into that cycle of distraction. If you’re health-conscious, but your peers spend all day munching on cookies and chips, you’ll have a hard time sticking to a nutritious diet.

On the other hand, when you’re surrounded by people who are focused when they’re working, you are more likely to be focused. In fact, it’s hard not to be focused because you want to be included and you don’t want to be responsible for breaking someone’s concentration. If you’ve never felt this type of motivation, step into a university library around finals. Everyone is united in their drive to succeed.

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Your Network Is Your Net Worth

It’s a quote from Tim Sanders, the former director of Yahoo!

When you surround yourself with people who hold high standard to you, you are surrounded by people who strive to do better. Their energy is contagious and will positively influence you.

Motivation and dedication are contagious.

Imagine working on a team in which 80% of team members are highly motivated and 20% of them slack off. The slackers are in the minority, and they are surrounded by the high achievers.

For the 20%, there are only two options for them. They can’t continue to put out mediocre work because the 80% will not accept it. They will either be influenced to do better work, or they will quit because they are unwilling to keep up. In the end, 100% of the remaining workers will be highly motivated.

If we switched the percentages of high achievers and unmotivated workers, there would be a different outcome. If 80% of workers have a low level of motivation and 20% are highly motivated, the team’s outputs will be low quality. The high achievers will either lower their own standards, or they will become fed up with their team members’ lackadaisical approach. In the end, all remaining team members will exhibit uninspired work performance.

You’ll do more than you thought you could do.

When you are surrounded by people with low standards, you may feel like you don’t have to put in extra work. You may perceive yourself as good enough because you aren’t comparing your work with people aiming for continuous improvement.

This means that even though you may be doing better than the average person in your peer group, you haven’t even scratched the surface of your full potential. Highly motivated people are constantly striving for improvement, and when you spend time with them, you recognize that you have plenty of growing to do too. You’ll make more breakthroughs than you thought possible because you are pushing yourself.

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For example, I studied Spanish when I was in college. Most people who were taking the Spanish didn’t care too much about it. When we had to review our translations in class, I was always stuck with a low-achiever. There seemed to be no upside to me putting in extra work since I wasn’t able to learn from my partner. I did well enough to get good grades, but I wasn’t progressing as much as I could have.

My professor was a great teacher, and he noticed that I didn’t seem to be getting much out of group work with my current partner. He paired me with the top student in the class. Suddenly, both of us started doing better work because we were 100% invested in our studies. Her high standards pushed me to work harder and think more deeply. My willingness to learn helped her sharpen her skills by discussing the work with me.

When you control your environment, you control your life.

A fulfilling life doesn’t just come about through a stroke of good luck. If that were true, then people who win the lottery would be guaranteed happiness. In fact, most people who hit the jackpot end up miserable because even though they acquired a windfall of cash, they could not control the people and circumstances around them.[2]

The habits that you commit to every day can have a greater positive impact on your life than getting a large sum of money. When you surround yourself with people who help you grow, you’ll make greater gains. Peers who enrich your life with their presence and actions can help you reach your goals.

One of my friends is a talented artist. He can take what other people would consider to be junk and turn it into fantastic sculptures. He came from a family that did not support his talent. He wanted for nothing in terms of food, clothing, and shelter, but he was completely miserable.

My friend almost gave up on his dream until he met other artists in college. He was surrounded by professors and students who believed in the transformative power of art. He began practicing his craft every day, and today he makes his living off his work.

For my friend, his family life was toxic. Even though he had all of his needs met, he didn’t flourish until he was surrounded by people who had high expectations of him.

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Find Friends Who Strive for Excellence

If you feel that you’re stuck, seek out people who have high expectations. Take notice of the coworker that is only satisfied with turning in the best work, and the friend who seems to have a clear direction in his or her life.

Connect with people that have rigorous standards for themselves and others. Talk to them to figure out how they reached their level of success. Perhaps they have a philosophy or mindset that you could adopt to improve yourself.

When you talk to these people, try to learn their perspectives about work, relationships, and life. Analyze why they think the way that they think. As your relationship develops, you can share your perspectives and seek feedback from them.

As you discuss life and work with them, think about what aspects of their approach you would like to incorporate into your life. If some mindset or action has propelled them to be successful, try to emulate that. Mimicking positive behaviors can change your attitude. This is just like forcing yourself to smile to induce happiness or striking a power pose to improve your confidence.

This is not the same as blindly copying whatever someone else does to be successful. This is about thoughtfully analyzing the successes of others and finding what works for you.

Every Relationship Should Push You to Be the Best Version of Yourself

It’s important to keep high standards in all aspects of your life. Look for coworkers, friends and even a romantic partner that bring out the best in you.

By removing the toxicity from your life and seeking people that will accept nothing less than excellence from you, you set yourself up to achieve your dreams.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] The Equality of Opportunity Project: The Geography of Upward Mobility in America
[2] Time: Powerball: Here’s How Winning the Lottery Makes You Miserable

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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