“I am going to actually achieve my goals”

People can either fill you with life or suck the life from you. American educator and university president Jeffrey Holland once told the story of a young man who for many years was treated poorly at school. Eventually, upon growing to maturity, he joined the army. While away from home, he had many successful experiences. He became a leader. He got well educated. He stepped away from his past became someone new.

Then, after several years, he returned to the town of his youth. Although he was different, the same old mind-set that had existed before was still there, waiting for his return. To the people in his hometown, this young man was still the same guy he was before he left. They couldn’t see the transformation that had taken place. And they continued living in the past, treating him as they had before. Sadly, this man readjusted back to his old ways. He came full circle: again inactive and unhappy. But this time, it was his own fault. He had chosen to surround himself with the very people who were holding him back in the first place.

One of my dearest friends calls me every six months to tell me, “Now is the time! I am going to actually achieve my goals and turn my life around.” What bums me out most is this friend is completely sincere. She wants nothing more than to get out of the rut she’s been in for more than a decade. She has huge dreams, amazing talent, and charisma. She’s one of those people who could do anything she ever wanted. Success would come so easily. But it never happens.

She can’t remove herself from the web of relationships that keep her stuck. She’s surrounded by mediocrity and has become comfortable with it. So comfortable that it’s become a self-made prison. All I have to do is ask when she last hung out with certain individuals to know she’s nowhere nearer her dream that she was ten years ago. The real decisions she needs to make is to CUT OFF any relationships that contradict her goals.

Removing important people, such as friends and even family members, from your life can be very difficult. This doesn’t mean you must permanently banish them, especially those you want to help and support; you just have to establish boundaries that keep you both form adapting negatively. The truth is, you’ll never be able to force them to change. The best thing you can do is be a good example for them. And you can’t be a good example by living below the level you believe you should.