I was about to turn the last page of the March issue of Seattle Business Magazine when these words caught my eye:
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words;
Be careful of your words, for you words become your deeds;
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits;
Be careful of your habits, for you habits become your character;
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
I learned this the hard way as a teenager. One day I was particularly fired up about something that had happened at school and I was telling my mom about it. After explaining the situation I said, “She’s such an a……,” but quickly caught myself and finished the phrase with “…armadillo!” instead. You get the idea. The girl in my story wasn’t an armadillo and my mother wasn’t fooled. Her response to my awkward attempt at redeeming myself was, “You better be careful with the words you use. You may end up saying something you don’t mean to in front of someone you wish you hadn’t.” Well, clearly. The words I used among friends were certainly not the ones I had intended to use in the presence of my mother. They just sort of slipped out. That’s how habits work.
We emulate those around us whether we intend to or not. That’s why it’s so important to choose our circles carefully. Habits, mannerisms and behaviors are contagious. In fact, Harvard researchers found the risk for being overweight is increased when those within our social networks are obese as well. Do you ever feel like you aren’t being true to yourself in the company of certain people?
Here are some tips for choosing circles that align with your values:
1. Limit the time you spend with those who drain your positive energy or prevent you from moving toward your purpose. You know who I’m talking about…those people who consume so much of your time and energy that you’re not able to focus on things that are important to you.
2. Trust your inner wisdom and spend more time with people who bring out the good in you. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be authentic and daring rather than those who criticize you and complain.
3. Be aware of your discomfort. When those around you are saying or doing things that make you feel uncomfortable, it’s a red flag that your values and beliefs are being compromised. Being around them also suggests to others that you are like them and approve of their behavior.
Who is inside your circle today? Do their behaviors align with your values? Are they pushing you toward or away from your life’s purpose? How are they supporting you to fulfill your life’s purpose?