When I was a boy, my father would often repeat the saying to me: “Choose your friends wisely. Because that’s who you will become.”
In youth, we are often told that hanging out with the wrong crowd will get us in trouble. And on the flip side, we should seek out friends that are “on the right path.” But what about the middle-aged guys? What are we becoming? It should come as no surprise that all studies show we most often become exactly who we are around.
Let’s look at the average middle-aged American guy: Maybe he’s in 30’s or 40’s. He works a 9-5 (or more like an 8-6 if he’s honest). Tries to keep his boss happy. He has a mortgage. A couple of kids. A steady job. He works hard all day. He comes home. Maybe picks his kid up from soccer practice. Helps get the kids to bed and then plops onto the couch to watch some TV exhausted from another day of punching the clock. He doesn’t work out much. He doesn’t call his friends. And they don’t call him. On the weekends he catches up on yard work, maybe watches some college football and takes his kid to their game. Maybe he even sees a few of his friends at church. But everything is fine with him and fine with his buddies. Because we are all fine, right? I know a lot of guys like this. Sometimes I am that guy. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into that routine without thinking about what’s going on. It’s almost like a middle-age version of sleepwalking through life.
Even if we don’t realize it, the people we are closest to and spend the most time with make a difference to our mood and state of mind, and believe it or not are indicators of where we are going in life. Do your friends only talk about the game on Sunday? Do they complain about their boss or their wife? Do they drink too much? Do they put in half effort at work? Do they only talk about material possessions, the high life, or acquiring more things? If most of your friends are like this, chances are you will be that way as well.
Business Insider’s Aimee Groth says, “When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced—whether we like it or not—by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Of course, everyone is their own person, but research has shown that we’re more affected by our environment than we think.
Surround yourself with individuals who embody the qualities you value or the qualities you want to possess someday. Choose friends whose thoughts and actions prove good character, social conscience, and integrity. Are you hanging out with a lot of men who just go through the motions? Do that long enough and you will do the same thing. It’s easy. Just pick up your feet and let the current take you. The harder thing is to take a stand. Make time for friends who make you a better man. Pick up a hobby where you can meet great guys who are headed where you want to head long term.
About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. He enjoys camping, hiking, biking and good conversation with friends over a Carolina craft brew.