Choose your friends wisely! You remember your parents, guidance counselors and teachers repeating this time after time, right? But, it wasn’t until I reached adult-hood, that I truly understood why. The other day I found myself sounding like my parents and saying the same thing to my teenager daughter. When she asked why, I explained that the peer group you choose can influence more than just one decision. It can effect your life-course- in a good way or in a bad way. If you choose a peer group that has a lower expectation for themselves or their life, it can bring you down. If you choose a peer group with an equal or higher expectation, it can raise you up by challenging you to become more. She asked how? That’s when we talked about ‘peer pressure’. After grumbling how “hard life is as a teenager”, she asked if ‘peer pressure’ still existed for adults. My reply? Absolutely!
Adult Peer Pressure Basics
Have you ever felt pressure to attain, obtain or earn something based on ‘pressure’ of your peers? Maybe it was a friend that got a raise and traded in their practical car for a luxury sedan. Maybe it was a friend losing weight and getting into killer shape. Maybe it was a co-worker getting a promotion ahead of you.
Here are 4 important questions to ask yourself:
1. How did you deal with the pressure?
Did you become lost in a fit of internal jealousy and pout. Did you run away from the ‘pressure’ and make excuses for why ‘you can’t have the same result’? Or did it inspire you to want more and better for yourself?
2. Is what they have, really what you want?
When you saw the new car, bigger house, weight loss or whatever the trigger was – did you feel the ‘pressure’ because you actually want that too. Or is it just ‘pressure’ that you should want that too?
Example: Sally see’s her best friend and neighbor buy a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood than they live in. Sally feels the ‘pressure’ to do the same every time she visits her friend. But, Sally loves her house and doesn’t really need a bigger house, yet feels like she ‘should’ be working toward a bigger house because her friends always want to know when she’s going to ‘upgrade’.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting bigger and better but is your desire to upgrade your home, car etc.; an attempt to keep up with the Jones’s or are your choices in upgrades because they are your dream?
The easiest way to relieve yourself from feeling the ‘pressure’ of things you don’t really want is to know what you do want in your life.
Example: Personally, Rob and I are very clear on how we want to live our life. We love traveling and will spend every last nickel of disposable income exploring the world. The decisions we make in everyday life help us reach our goals of non-stop travel. We used to own 3 homes between us. We decided that we weren’t interested in the stress or costs associated with lawn-care, pool maintenance and that non-recurring, yet always recurring home repair that always seems to pop up at the wrong time. So now, we rent. If something breaks or leaks, we just make a phone call and let someone else write the check. For us, this freed up our income to do what we love to do and reduced our stress of constant issues and maintenance. Whenever we feel the ‘home ownership’ pressure, we laugh, because usually that person isn’t traveling with us or anywhere for three weeks in the summer. We’re clear on what we want and how we want to live our life. Low-maintenance and stress free!
3. If you attained, obtained or earned (fill in the blank), would it be a positive or negative influence on your life?
This goes back to if it’s something you really want, or want just because you’re trying to keep up. Also- always remember, there is always someone with bigger, better, newer, nicer, more expensive things. This is a hamster wheel that will never end and eventually, you’ll get spun right off the wheel!
Example: If you need to feel ‘significant’ by upgrading your house or car, yet doing so is going to stress you financially, that would be a negative influence. In the end, you may have the immediate feeling of success, but when your friends aren’t around complimenting you and you’re staring at your bank balance of $0, how will that impact your life?
4. What are you going to do about it?
This is where you get off the pot! If you found yourself feeling ‘pressure’ to attain, obtain or earn something you really, honestly and truly want and it will be a positive influence or addition to your life, ask yourself, what steps are you taking daily, weekly and/or monthly to reach your goal?
New Rule: If you want something, and someone else has it, you don’t get to complain or rant about what they have, if you’re not willing to do the work to get it yourself.
Your Peer Group
Adult ‘peer pressure’ is real and can affect your life, decisions and happiness, just like it can for a teenager learning the ropes of life. Your peer group, even as an adult, is incredibly important. Do you surround yourself with people who will bring you up or bring you down? Do your closest friends share similar goals for health, family, finances and life in general?
For example, if you take the average weight of your 5 closest friends, chances are it’s pretty close to your weight. Same goes for income. So, if you have high goals for your life, make sure your peer group does as well!
In the end, it’s all about you. Be who you are, do what you love and don’t let others bring you down or make you feel less than because of your decisions or desires. In return, don’t do that to anyone else either. Hold your friends and yourself to a high standard.
You have the opportunity to create any life you want, any way you want it.
Excuses are over. It’s time to live!