Societal pressures are so strong, it is likely that every turning point in your life is strongly influenced by other people. From the courses you take in school, the books you read, the music you listen to, and the seminars you attend, they are all almost always the result of a suggestion from someone you respect.
Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University did a 25-year study on the characteristics of achievement motivated people. He found that, the single most important factor in success is your “reference group.” Your reference group is made up of the people with whom you habitually associate and identify. These are the people with whom you live, work, and interact with on a daily basis.
Your reference group has a powerful effect on the person you are today, and on the person you will become tomorrow. The friends with whom you socialize with have an enormous impact on everything you do and accomplish.
Every major turning point in your life will coincide with the development of a new group of friends and associates. The significance of that is when you change the people you associate with, it often leads to a complete change of aspirations, goals, work routines, and levels of achievement.
Many successful people are very conscious about their choice of friends, associates and colleagues. They surround themselves with the people that will take them from where they are to where they want to be.
Studies indicate that the top 20 percent of high achievers strongly identified with other high achievers, even before they had had a chance to accomplish very much in life. Their role models were men and women at the top of their organizations. High achievers did not identify with the average people around them. Their sights were set much higher. And in almost no time at all, they were up among the top 20 percent, exactly as they had planned.
There are several things that you can do to make the changes in life you desire:
1. Associate with the right people, ask for their advice, and follow it.
2. Make every effort to overcome the obstacles within yourself that might be holding you back.
3. To make meaningful and lasting change, you must set clear priorities. Focus on what is valuable, and relevant, rather than waste your time on what is small and insignificant.
4. Have a “sense of urgency,” a desire and a drive to make the change.
5. Start at work. Deliberately and systematically make efforts to meet people who you know can help you. Engage in the same behaviors that created their achievement. Remember you achieve a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.
6. Develop the essential skills that you need.
The wonderful thing about the change process is that it is totally under your control. It depends on no one else, and it is an ongoing journey. In other words, you are a continual “do-it yourself” project.
Dr. Josefina Monasterio is a certified life coach, fitness expert, and nutritional counselor based in Vero Beach, Florida. She holds a PhD in Adult Personal Development from Nova University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Boston University. Dr. Josefina is also a certified Yoga Therapist from the World Yoga Society of Calcutta, India, and host of Healthy Power TV’s “The Dr. Josefina Way.”