How Those Around You Impact Your Vocation

blog 4.22.21

If you really want to play tennis better, play with someone who is better than you. At least, this is what the experts say. It could also be said of nearly any sport. But do we ever consider how those we surround ourselves with in life impact our careers?

Most of us know that those we choose to surround ourselves with make all the difference. “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future,” goes the popular saying. If we choose wisely, our friendships can undoubtedly impact our vocation for the better.

Our relationships inherently influence our way of thinking. As Psychology Today discusses, the people closest to you can impact your choices. They can also improve or weaken your self-control. A study in 2014 by the Journal of Consumer Research found that friends can help one another either resist temptation or more easily cave into temptations.

As much as friendships naturally influence us, they also impact our career tracks and choices. While none of us can select what family we are born into, we can choose who we associate with. So, if our careers and dreams for the future are important to us, who we choose to spend time with should be of great value.

Here are three things to consider to ensure the company you keep will support your vocation:

  1. Choose relationship investments selectively. Time is a commodity, and authentic friendships are investments. While many personalities naturally lean toward having many friend groups, sometimes less is more. Research from the British Journal of Psychology suggests that people with a higher intelligence are better off with fewer quality friends as opposed to many shallow relationships. The study found that those with a healthy balance of career goals and quality relationships often have fewer close friendships.
  2. Seek out people who are smarter or wiser than you. As in playing tennis, living life with those who challenge you will push you forward. If you are always surrounded by people who never challenge you or cause you to think outside of the box, how can you grow?
  3. Let some friendships go. Over time, there are some people in our lives who cause us to doubt ourselves, question our career choices or influence us poorly. As we grow and change, so will our relationships. If you choose to invest in friends who never give back, constantly leave you in self-doubt or aren’t positively impacting you, it may be time to let them go. 

The people you surround yourself with will greatly impact your work life, as much as they impact you. If you are seeking to increase your influence or sharpen your skills at work, the connections you allow into your life are essential. In order to grow in work — and in life — we must surround ourselves with people who will challenge us to grow beyond our current position. By selecting relationships, friendships and marriages carefully, they should, in turn, be a life force for your career and vocational goals.

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