Surround Yourself With Liked-Minded People

by FI Fighter on June 26, 2014

in Thoughts

Life

I have close friends who I have known since high school and earlier. These people have grown up and evolved with me throughout the years, and we have all influenced each other greatly in life. Without a doubt, these folks will always hold a special place in my heart. With that said, over the years, I’m finding myself hanging out and associating with some of these friends on a less frequent basis.

What Once Was…

There’s nothing wrong with that… People drift apart for many reasons, and as I’m finding out, one’s goals and direction in life can have a lot to do with that. For instance, a group of my close friends and I will still get together, and when we do, we typically reminisce about the “good ol’ days” in high school, or college. We talk about some of the pranks we used to pull, and repeat many of the old jokes that surprisingly are just as funny today as they were back then.

But after a few hours of talking and having fun, I think we all eventually come to a point where we realize that we don’t really have that much more to talk about. Once the nostalgia has passed, we reconvene as completely different people. If you didn’t know any better, you might guess that we were all strangers to one another…

The Effects of Time

As such, I find it completely fascinating how life (and time) can so greatly alter things, including deeply forged friendships of yesteryear. I know that I’ve undergone some rather radical shifts in my own life philosophy these past few years since discovering early financial independence… My old friends, who are not on that same journey, have found their own calling which they are also trying to make sense of.

And so it goes… As each one of us plunges deeper and deeper down different roads, it becomes that much more difficult for each of us to relate to one another. People change and life continues marching on. Best friends become acquaintances. Acquaintances become strangers. And strangers become our new best friends.

Change Agent

What can we do about it? Well, I think we should embrace change… Change is a natural part of life, so there’s really no need to fight or resist it. As I’ve learned, you can save yourself a lot of grief by simply accepting things for what they are, and by not taking things personally.

The fact of the matter is, you can’t change someone. A person will only change if they want to. Quite frankly, it probably isn’t worth the time or effort needed to try and convince someone why they should do something different than what they are already doing…

When it comes to investing and finance, there will always be those types of people who simply live for today. Investing would be the furthest thing from the minds of the YOLO crowd, as most of these people wouldn’t have an iota of interest in pursuing the journey to early FI. Just like in the movie The Matrix, any potential candidate would have to consciously accept the action of taking the red pill before I would agree to spend any more time training them up on the subject (since the concepts associated with early FI involve a massive degree of mental re-programming from societal norms). As for the majority crowd who vehemently rejects the alternative path? Well, similar to my high school buddies (as I’ve learned from experience), I’ll simply accept and respect their decision. That is, rather than trying to force-fit my ideals and lifestyle onto those who don’t want it, I will instead choose the path of least resistance… move on…

Look For Positive Reinforcements

What’s the alternative? For myself (a person who is eagerly trying to get to early FI at 30), this means attending Bigger Pockets meet-ups with other local investors. It means flying out to Frequent Traveler University (FTU) events out in Seattle. Lastly, I love connecting with other bloggers and readers. So on, and so forth.

The important thing is not to give up! Thanks to the internet, there are thriving communities out there that will support basically anything you want to do with your life. If your aspirations are for financial freedom, tune in to the net worth tracker that is updated every month courtesy of Rockstar Finance. Love to invest in dividend stocks or real estate? Keep your eyes and ears open ALWAYS and you will inevitably fall into the right circles filled with others who will will overwhelmingly support your goals.

There are no longer any radical ideas out there. Most importantly, there’s no need to ever get worked up, frustrated, or angry with friends who are no longer aligned with your life’s mantra. Go find new friends and build up your network, instead! When I finally started doing that for myself, my mindset and outlook changed drastically for the better.

Back when I first started the quest to early FI in early 2012, I made the mistake of regularly sending my old friends (who weren’t on the same path) text messages about any new real estate listings… Or, I would let them know about the next hot stock that I was buying. Since they weren’t in the least bit interested, not surprisingly, I would either not get a reply back, or I would receive a very simple one liner, “cool“.

This type of response used to get me worked up and frustrated! Early FI was a growing passion for me… “How could my best friends not be supportive, or interested in what I was doing?“, I used to ponder. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of time and energy going down a dead-end road…

Fast forward two years, and I now have a network filled with like-minded individuals in place… I don’t have to send out any more text messages! Rather, these new folks will inform me of the latest property deal even before I’m aware that it exists. :) Talk about a night and day difference from before! As I’ve been happy to discover, there are many other people out there who think along the same wavelength as me (what a liberating feeling it is to no longer have to feel alone on the journey!)… “Cut the dissonance and fine-tune until resonant“. Your life’s soundtrack will really be rocking then!

Those who are even more hardcore about early FI than myself only inspire me to keep moving along and pushing forward. It’s almost impossible to not want to keep going when you regularly see others (in the same boat) knocking out goal after goal… So, surround yourself with positive, supportive energy, and you really will start to feel like you can accomplish ANYTHING!

Conclusion

With all that said, I’m not suggesting you ditch your friends and abandon them. Rather, try to put everything in its proper context and life will become that much more simple (and enjoyable). My old buddies are still great people to hang out with… I just know that when we are chillin’ together, we won’t be discussing early FI or investing. Now that I’ve filled the void in my life with new friends who are even more enthusiastic about early FI and investing than myself, I no longer feel like I’m missing anything with my old friends.

I’m at peace now, and no longer struggling with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole (which was frustrating beyond measure). I only wish that I had been more proactive with surrounding myself with other like-minded individuals sooner… Positive energy goes a long way! Just know, you don’t have to go through your journey alone; like most things in life, it’s a lot more fun when you can share it with others. :)

Fight on!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FIHopefulNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:49 am

This is great advice… and I usually recommend this to others as well, but it has one very important caveat. You should surround yourself with positivity, but be very wary of creating a “bubble” that new information doesn’t flow into. When you surround yourself with only like-minded people, it sometimes creates a feedback loop that ignores any potentially better ideas that come along outside that circle of influence (e.g., see how politicians operate when they listen only to the sources that agree with them).

So, it’s important to get positive feedback, but it’s equally important to continuously check outside opinions, if only to reinforce that you’re on the right track.

You can accomplish this without bringing back the relationships of the past or associating with negative influencers… for example, simply having a wide and varied reading list of blogs, news sources, and entertainment can go a long way to keeping abreast of what is happening in other social circles. But it also helps to at least meet and interact with others outside the comfortable circle from time to time too.

The important thing is to know what your life goals are, surround yourself with positive influencers that help achieve those goals, and double check their ideas against what’s happening in the rest of the world from time to time.

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2 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm

FIHopeful,

Excellent points you make there! The caveat is worth noting and that makes for a good gateway into the next article.

You want to surround yourself with like-minded people who inspire, motivate, and push you to get better and reach your potential. Like you mentioned, though, you don’t want to just surround yourself with anyone… A bunch of “yes men” aren’t going to do much to help you learn more…

It’s always good to read as much as possible, and from as many sources as possible… I always found it fascinating how some of the best musicians would spend much of their free time listening to genres outside their realm of expertise and learning different instruments to complement what they already knew… I look at FI and investing much the same way.

When in doubt, keep learning! Be open to possibilities and new ideas… And keep building that support network.

Cheers!

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3 No Nonsense LandlordNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 10:11 am

If you want to be a millionaire, talk to millionaires. Surrounding yourself with people that have the same desires and goals as you do is a key piece of it. Ideally, the people you surround yourself with are already there, just just additional aspire-ers…

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4 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Eric,

Yes, exactly right. Know your goals and what you want to accomplish… Then, find others who have done what you are trying to do.

I think it’s so worthwhile being the dumbest person in the room… when you make yourself uncomfortable and you stretch your limits, you tend to learn and grow more as an individual.

Take care!

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5 FI PilgrimNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

That’s good advice, but very tough to follow. Many times we enjoy being around people who are different from us, or bring out a different side of ourselves than what we usually show.

Doesn’t change the fact that it’s good advice though. :-)

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6 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

FI Pilgrim,

My apologies if the underlying message of the article didn’t come across clearly — I think it’s wonderful to spend time with those we care about, even if each person’s focus/goals/thoughts in life differ.

The point I was trying to get across was that we should also expand our network to try and pinpoint others who are doing EXACTLY what we are doing, or what we want to accomplish. For instance, if I wanted to get better as a musician and play in a band, I should make a concentrated effort to network with other drummers, guitarists, bassists, vocalists, etc… I would be better served finding others who also wanted to play in a band as opposed to just calling up my best buddies and trying to coerce them into doing something they have no interest in doing.

I love my friends… and even though early FI/investing doesn’t interest a great majority of them, it doesn’t impact our friendship in a negative way b/c I now have realized that I can simply find other friends to talk FI/investing with… I ran into trouble when I tried to force things onto others… I’m doing my best to avoid that, moving forward.

All the best!

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7 My Dividend PipelineNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

I can’t remember where I read it, but supposedly your income will mirror the income of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Birds of a feather I guess.

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8 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:31 pm

MDP,

Yeah, I’ve heard a similar saying about how you are the average of the 5 people you spend your most time with. Very similar, and I believe there is truth to it. You are what you repeatedly surround yourself with…

Birds of a feather, exactly!

Cheers!

Reply

9 MrsFinancialFreedomNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I can certainly relate to this as none of my friends are into investing and paying off their mortgage early.

Because I found the whole idea of financial independence so exciting, I use to try and bring it up in conversations and I use to get quite frustrated when all I got were just got blank looks. I just couldn’t understand why people didn’t find it as excited as I did!

It only took a couple of months to realise that I am best keeping my mouth shut unless someone actually asks me about it.

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10 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:33 pm

MrsFinancialFreedom,

Yes, I used to do much the same and was at first surprised when no one else in the room seemed interested except me!

Thanks to blogging and all the great forums online, it’s been a blessing being able to connect with others who are on the same journey.

I’m the same way now… I’ve learned to stop bringing this stuff up… If others ask, I will answer, but I really need to just leave this stuff out of my day-to-day life… It’s for the better, I think.

Cheers!

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11 A Frugal Family's JourneyNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm

So true…as the saying goes, “birds of the same feathers generally flock together!” I would add that with current technology, it doesn’t even have to be a real life relationship. For instance, if you want to do well in real estate, dividend stock investing, fitness, food, or whatever subject you would like to excel in, join a blogging community. You would be surprise how much you can learn from a blogging community! Personally, I feel like I’ve grown in leaps and bounds with the support of the blogging community. :)

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12 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:35 pm

AFFJ,

Glad to hear blogging has been so rewarding for you so far. I love the personal finance/early FI communities… It has opened up my eyes to a whole new world that I previously did not know existed. Pretty cool stuff, and I’m grateful to be a part of the community.

Looking forward to more of your future posts!

Take care!

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13 Mrs. FrugalwoodsNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Well said. I notice the glaze that comes over some people’s eyes when I get too excited talking about FI and all my little frugal plans… I have to recalibrate based on who I’m talking with. My family is super supportive, but I still know they think we’re a little weird and don’t totally understand where we’re coming from. It’s cathartic to read posts like this that so clearly echo my thoughts and feelings! Also, side note, we find it can be difficult to hang out with non-frugal friends because they want to do really expensive things! Our solution is usually to invite them over to our house for a potluck–I’m pretty sure they think we’re afraid of restaurants :)

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14 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Mrs. Frugalwoods,

I’m so glad you can resonate with the post! It lets me know that I’m not totally crazy with my thinking ;)

I love the potluck idea! If I go out with non-frugal friends, I usually just skip the drinks/rounds and just order a light appetizer or something simple. In the end, I always feels that the company your with is the only thing that matters at these social gatherings.

All the best!

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15 Dave @ The New York BudgetNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Nice work – it’s great that you can have different types of friends and understand that they play different roles in your life.

Also, for those folks you haven’t seen in a while, a couple of beers go a long way to keeping the conversation from petering out and getting to the place where you realize that you have much less to talk about. I realize that is completely beside the point you were making, but thought I’d throw it in there nevertheless!

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16 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Dave,

Beer tends to solve a lot of life’s problems doesn’t it… It probably creates a few others as well, but I see your point! Yeah, I like to keep things light and just kick back and enjoy the company, for the most part. It’s great when you can talk to someone about something more profound, I guess, but in a way just being online and on this blog helps me accomplish that. Networking with people like yourself is a great way to share/discuss the early FI/investing stuff.

All the best!

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17 Zee @ Work To Not WorkNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I learned early on not to try to force personal finance on friends. If someone truly doesn’t care about something they will try to be excited for you but they will probably just ignore it. For me it was like that when I told my family about my blog, I got something shared on a bigger news site so I felt validated for what I had started so I emailed my family a link to the article. A few days later I got back emails that were basically “cool”.

I know my parents try to keep up with what I write but I’m fairly certain it’s only the occasional check in.

What I do with old friends is that I still find the common ground with them, we all like travel so we talk about where we want to go or where we have recently been. I know they don’t care about the details of my work or personal finance so those were tossed out as conversational pieces a long time ago. One of my friends runs a clothing company so I ask how that’s going, or their kids. I don’t have kids but sometimes other people have good stories of their kids doing stupid things. Or sports, we still discuss sports. For me, it’s still about finding the common ground, even if that common ground gets smaller and smaller.

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18 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Zee,

Great point; finding common ground is the most effective way of communicating with anyone. I used to wish that some of my older buddies would also be interested in early FI/investing, but I’m now realizing that isn’t even necessary.

The blog/internet/forums are great for that type of networking and the local meet ups are something I want to do more of. I’m just finding it pretty amazing how much more motivated and inspired you can be when you surround yourself with the right people/energy.

Take care!

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19 Zee @ Work To Not WorkNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I know what you mean about surrounding yourself right type of people. I was actually already writing a post about this exact same thing. Since I started really getting more involved in the PF community I find that I’m more motivated for things and generally have a more positive outlook on things in my real life even if they aren’t related to PF.

One thing that I think will eventually happen with your friends is that one day, not now, maybe not till most of them are in their mid to late 30’s they will start to realize they need to save and invest. Then they will turn to you knowing you’ve been down the path for years. It might not be individual investments that they ask or are interested about, but probably more general advise about how to start investing in index funds or something.

It’s something that I think will eventually happen with my friends too. I know that some of them haven’t started saving for retirement yet, they’ve mentioned that they need to start. I’m just waiting for when they realize they are ready instead of me trying to coax them into it. Trying to “sell” them on this lifestyle will only make them push back. I know I get put off when people try to persuade me into being vegetarian or whatever other things they think will make my life better.

But until then, I still have other common ground with my friends.

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20 Curtis@PayOffMyRentalsNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm

“People change and life continues marching on. Best friends become acquaintances. Acquaintances become strangers. And strangers become our new best friends”.

WOW! That was so well put! You are becoming a wise person. And as we all know, wisdom is better than riches. Riches can be lost, but wisdom is eternal wealth.

Nice Post. I knew there was a reason you were on my blog list.

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21 FI FighterNo Gravatar June 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Curtis,

Thanks for the kind words! Very well put — wisdom is eternal wealth. A lot of that comes through experience… An even larger part, I’m thinking, is acquired through networking and connecting with the right people/mentors. This is something I’m trying to improve in my own life.

Best wishes!

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22 J. MoneyNo Gravatar June 27, 2014 at 9:18 am

Thanks for passing on the word about our Net Worth Tracker! You keep climbing it, brotha ;)

Reply

23 WillNo Gravatar June 27, 2014 at 3:18 pm

I LOVE living with other hard working people. The energy of an incubator-type environment is fantastic!

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24 CongNo Gravatar June 29, 2014 at 3:42 am

Surround your self with like-minded people will make you even more commit to your goal , that’s a good thing

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25 x_markus_xNo Gravatar June 29, 2014 at 9:12 am

Amen! Nothing more to add…reading the text feels like you scanned my brain and used my experience for writing it. :) I’m from Germany and feel the same with most of my “offline friends” who don’t invest at all. So I guess, people around the world are quite similar regardless the different cultures. :) Good luck there are many Blogs and forums where I can share and learn all regarding the topic.

M

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26 PaulineNo Gravatar June 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

It is hard to get “normal” people around radical ideas such as early retirement, FI, etc. I used to tell my friends I would retire at 40 and they saw me traveling the globe and just laughed quietly. I still try once in a while when people tell me they can’t make ends meet on a six figures salary, or they can’t go on holidays this year because life is hard, … I try to get them to realize you can’t go out 6 times a week at $100 a night and still expect to have money for the holidays, but they “have to” go out and chill after a stressful crappy job. Then they wonder how I do it. So now I just stay vague and say I made good investments. You’re right, people won’t change if they don’t want to. I have nothing to say about people who are content with a 9-5 job for the rest of their lives, but the ones complaining about life and making nothing to change are hard to talk to.

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