Stop making friends by proximity
Around the year ~2000 the world began to change in many dramatic ways. Smart phone connectivity allows people to communicate globally with ease, opening up doors for information exchange that makes the printing press look laughable (sorry Johannes). We are still figuring out this technology for sure and it’s constantly changing, but I was fortunate enough to capitalize on one distinct benefit of this new technology early in my life and it’s come with quite the competitive edge.
I make friends based on my interest and goals, with near complete disregard for location and you should too.
To underestimate this advantage is a disservice to yourself, and yet almost everyone I know still makes friends the old and terrible way: proximity. You make friends with people at your work, at your school, where your kids go for stuff, maybe you met at the salon (I go to salon and not a barber because my hair is beautiful and men have no style so they can’t touch me).
Do you make friends because of common locations or common interests? There was no other option in 1995 and prior, but in 2019 I am convinced that making friends by proximity is hindering your success and your happiness. These days we find our husbands and wives online, we find out jobs online, we get college degrees online, so do the same thing for networking and friendships.
Do you have goals and interests of your own?
Warning, insults to follow here:
Are you a boring person with no hobbies, goals, or interests? Are you more interested in sleeping in every day, watching Netflix, talking about superficial gossip, and just hoping some interesting person will show up in your life to bring excitement? To paraphrase a great quote from the movie “The Departed”
Are you a product of your environment, or is your environment a product of YOU?
Who you surround yourself with MATTERS, and it matters a lot. So if you spend a lot of time being lazy and uninteresting, then not only will you suffer wasted time you will be unable to attract interesting ambitious people to your life. There are millions of motivated and driven people in the world and they are looking for similar-minded friends and if you’re one of them, then it won’t be too hard to find your counterparts when you look in the right place. If your favorite way to spend time is outsourcing your mental capacity to whatever the television provides for you, then maybe you’re already at you’ve already peaked and just need a cat.
As I say all the time “No one will care more about your success than you”. When you’re looking for the people that will help you grow, you’ll need to be someone who can help them grow in return. No one needs help being uninteresting and lazy so you need things in your life to set your ambitions towards, I call these “hobbies” but really they are anything you can point your efforts towards. It doesn’t all have to be about making money, but it does have to be about growth. If you have no hobbies, ambition, or desire to grow, then making friends by proximity is probably fine since the expectations you’ve set for yourself are pitifully low.
Do you have big fish syndrome?
Do your accomplishments, when matched against the accomplishments of your peers, make you feel good about yourself? If so, you probably suck unless you already know all the superstars in your field. I assume everyone knows the phrase, big fish in a little pond? I’ve suffered from this many time in my life, when I actually lived in small towns I felt like I was a superstar but not because I was so good, rather it was just because competition was so low. The internet and your direct peer groups do the same thing, If you hang out with people who have low standards and low expectations of their lives they can give you a false sense of success
Ask yourself why you're friends with people
Let me be clear, this isn’t about your giant Facebook friends list, 80% of whom I’m willing to bet you don’t really know or speak to often., this is about the people in your life you you trade influence with on a daily basis. How did they get in your life?
You are the average of your 5 closest friends – Jim Rohn
You want to spend time around people that create a desire to improve yourself naturally. Meaning, it’s not about having 5 people to talk to that all encourage you, this is what your family does and it’s damn near worthless. You need people that make you want to rise to a higher standard to meet them.
When I was a bar fly I felt very important, because I was popular at the bar! I was a big fish in a tiny pond, and it gave me very little incentive to improve. The same happens if you’re in good shape and go to the gym, you might get the false sense of confidence that you’re at the top of the ladder. You would only be comparing yourself to people at your gym though, this is not an accurate representation of your competition and it stifles your ambition.
As I have improved at real estate my social circles have changed, for the better, but it’s also been intimidating. I was recently at a dinner with a bunch of local investors and I was by far the lowest on the totem pole (in terms of RE accomplishment), this is not a fun position to be in, but what’s the fix? To spend less time around these people to avoid feeling insecure or to spend more time around them so I can motivate myself to catch up.
As I said in my very first article on this site, you have to be around people who not just give you external motivation (hype), but the act of being around them creates and internal motivation for yourself. These people are fairly rare and hard to find so it’s unlikely you’ll bump into them randomly in your day and even if you do it’s unlikely that it’ll happen 5+ times making it imperative you take this advice seriously and make a deliberate effort to change your fave 5.
How to start immediately
Are you afraid of making friends on the internet? If so, get over it, that’s how the world works now and not actively participating is a detriment to your success.
Look, I know it seems hard to start a genuine friendship over the internet but I promise it’s actually much harder to start one in real life (after you’re 30 years old at least). How often do you make new friends in real life? It certainly depends on what you do with your time, for instance if you’re in sales you’ll meet more people than if you’re in the back office hole in a financial department like me, but that said think about my core argument here: what is the purpose of the friendship you are looking to create? Is it just because you’re close in proximity, or do you have some similar like-minded goal in common? It’s easy to make friends with people who like watching “The Office” on repeat, but that’s everyone (at least it better be!). If you have a real goal or hobby there is already a place on the internet that your people are gathering and you need to seek them out.
Facebook – there is a Facebook group for everything these days. Don’t discount it
Meetup.com – I love this site! I’ve found photography friends, youtube creator friends, hiking friends, and real estate friends on here.
Web forums – I’ve been using web forums for years. These days forums have been largely replaced by social media but lots of good ones still exist. I suggest to find the one that coincides with your niche! Biggerpockets for real estate for instance.
Reddit – Reddit is such a weird place, but it is available and there is a subreddit for every niche and nerdy thing you can possibly think of. There are a few for real estate investing and some are very active. Fitness, Investing, FI/RE, and