When it comes to both your personal life and professional life, your peer group profoundly impacts… well, everything.
Your peers influence whom you socialize with, who becomes members of your professional network, what socially derived expectations you do or don’t have for yourself, and the filter by which you consider all life decisions.
If you want to earn a higher income, shift your peer group to one where people earn more.
If you want to be able to run a marathon, spend time with marathon runners.
If you want to save the world, associate with others who share the same passion.
Most people don’t put enough thoughtfulness and effort into CHOOSING a peer group.
When you are in school, your peer group consists of your classmates and those involved in the same extra-curricular activities (e.g., teammates).
As you get out into the working world, your coworkers become a part of your peer group because of the fact that you see them a lot.
Most people stop there.
What many don’t realize is that once you get out of school, you have many more options to DELIBERATELY choose what kind of peers you want to associate with.
This turns out to be a very 80/20 decision in your life.
Most people don’t proactively choose their peers. They just fall into whatever peer group happens to be most convenient.
While that’s somewhat natural, you miss an opportunity when you don’t proactively choose at least some portion of your peer group.
The easiest way to be miserable in life is to fall into a peer group whose values conflict deeply with yours.
In your personal life, give some thought as to what you want for your future.
If you like nature, find social acquaintances, peers and friends that like being outside. With that single decision, you are much more likely to spend more time in nature.
The same is true in your professional life.
Seek out, meet, and cultivate relationships with people who share similar or complementary professional interests. This opens you up to new perspectives, new ideas, and new opportunities.
When you proactively develop a base of professional relationships with like-minded people, you end up with a very valuable career asset, a more interesting professional life, and the opportunity to be exposed to many new opportunities.
The first few years of your career are determined by your academic credentials and skills. The subsequent few decades are determined in much greater part by who you know and who knows you.
Don’t overlook this important insight. If you haven’t devoted energy to building your relationships, consider doing so now.
If you aren’t sure how, my How to Network Effectively for Career Opportunities and Advancement program can help (It was designed for introverts who hate the idea of schmoozing and being slimy.) If you’re not accustomed to expanding and choosing your professional peer group and want to learn the process, this program will show you how.
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