Having supportive family and friends can sometimes make all the difference in our success. Supportive social networks provide personal accountability, which motivates and inspires us to stay dedicated to our goals. Without these supportive social circles, it can become incredibly more difficult to make the changes we need to succeed in our lives.
It can often be tough to exercise personal accountability without a supportive social network there to accompany us. We may have the will to change something about ourselves – like quit smoking or play less video games – but the people we surround ourselves with can cause us to cave in and continue our old habits.
It’s important to recognize just how powerful our environment can be when influencing our behavior. We like to believe that we are the sole determiners of our actions, but the truth is there are many external factors that can shape who we are and what we continue to become.
Behavioral psychology suggests that sometimes in order to effectively change our habits we sometimes need to change our environment and our relationships first. This is because certain environments and relationships can become a psychological trigger; we become conditioned to respond to the same patterns over and over again, and it can be incredibly difficult to break that pattern through will-power alone (some people can do it, but most people can’t).
However, there are a number of online and offline alternatives that people can turn to if they are looking for a supportive social network:
- Only talk with supportive family, friends, and/or coworkers.
- Find a local group in your community (if there isn’t one already, consider starting one).
- Participate in online forums or message board.
- Start a mastermind group (between 3-10 people who are currently pursuing similar goals and interests).
- Connect with people on social media like Twitter or Facebook (links are to my personal accounts, feel free to connect with me).
These are some of the options you have when first trying to develop a supportive social network. As times goes on, social networks tend to build off each other organically. You meet someone at a mastermind group, they become a good friend, then they introduce you to 2-3 other people. New relationships begin to build and they continue to feed off each other from there. It’s a domino effect – the hardest part is often just getting started.
3 Questions To Assess Your Social Networks.
There are important questions to ask yourself when evaluating whether or not your social networks are really helping or hindering your personal development. Some of the questions I ask myself every now and then include:
Do I surround myself with people who support my interests and goals?
It is really tough to achieve your goals when the people around you don’t support you, or, at worst, actually try to get you stop pursuing your goals. Some people are just indifferent to your goals because they are too occupied with themselves. Other people might actually want you to fail, maybe due to envy, jealousy, or fear.
Despite these social obstacles, we can often replace them with more supportive relationships. As I suggested above, there are many online and offline alternatives where we can begin to find individuals who support our interests and can encourage us to pursue our goals. Focusing more on these relationships can provide us with the motivation and inspiration we need to fuel our endeavors.
Are there people out there calling my bluff?
Okay. So we share a goal with a friend, family member or coworker. They then respond with a polite smile and tell us, “Good luck!” Of course, we appreciate the kind gesture. We may even feel a temporary high from it – but is it enough to provide accountability and motivation?
Probably not. If someone is going to offer you true accountability, then they need to at least check up on you periodically and make sure that you are taking active steps to get closer to your goals. When you’re feeling down, they should be able to inspire you to keep going. And when you’re succeeding, they should be able to encourage you to go even harder.
That is why it is best to match up with like-minded people who share the same goals. For example, if you have 1-3 other guys that want to start going to the gym more often, then you have a support network where you all motivate each other to follow through on your goals. Now it becomes a team effort – and that can help you deal with the burden of going solo and having to motivate yourself all by yourself.
Positive relationships like this can become positive triggers that motivate you to do the work you need in order to achieve your goals. Fostering relationships like this can greatly improve your personal development.
Am I learning from feedback and criticism?
Even individuals who don’t hold you accountable on a consistent basis can still provide value to the pursuit of your goals. Anytime you get feedback or criticism on something there is an opportunity to learn from it. When people provide you with sincere compliments, then you know you are doing something right. And when people provide you with sincere criticism, then you can try to use that criticism to improve yourself.
Of course, not all feedback is created equal. Some people’s opinions can mean more than others. If someone is commenting on your online business, then it is probably better to listen more to those who have already succeeded with an online business, rather than a family member who may not understand how one works. It’s important to listen to all advice but still be able to distinguish the good from the bad.
If your social circle isn’t capable of providing you with good advice (maybe you want to excel in something that none of your family or friends have experience in) then it is crucial that you begin reaching out to others who can hold you to a finer degree of accountability.
Are positive relationships necessary for personal development?
No, they aren’t always necessary, but often times they make things a helluva lot easier. Success often leaves clues, and when we surround ourselves with the right people, we often learn much quicker than we would all by ourselves. There is no sense in re-inventing the wheel.
In addition, the accountability that a loyal friend can provide is often irreplaceable to when you have to hold yourself accountable. It just helps to have someone call you up every other week and discuss your progress with you.
If you don’t yet have an accountability partner to provide that, go out and find one. And if you’re having difficulties socializing more and building your network (whether online or offline) I strongly recommend Sean Cooper’s Shyness and Social Anxiety System. It comes with a guide called “How To Build A Social Circle From Scratch” that will teach you everything you need to know on creating richer relationships and a more supportive social circle.
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