When You Change Yourself, You Change Those Around You

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

At the start of 2006, my life was in financial disarray. I’ve described many times what I did to turn it around. I clamped down hard on my spending. I started saving for the future. I learned a ton about personal finance. I changed careers. I bought a home – and paid for it in full. I achieved total debt freedom.

It was a great turnaround, one that completely changed my life.

But it wasn’t just an internal change. The people in my life saw the changes, too.

At first, they mostly saw the spending changes. I didn’t suggest the expensive restaurants any more. I bought lower-cost dishes when we did go out. I didn’t always have the latest gadget any more. I’d often suggest low-cost activities instead of expensive ones.

Then, gradually, they began to see bigger ones. They saw us buy a house. They saw me make a radical career shift. They saw our stress level drop through the floor, even with the addition of children into our lives.

These changes didn’t just affect me. They also had a strong indirect effect on the other people in my life.

If I think about the five adults that I’m closest to, that list has largely remained the same since about 2002 or so. I don’t like to name names on this site, but the very core of my personal life has remained very consistent.

What’s changed about them?

Sometime in the last ten years, all of us have had a mortgage to our name. In that same time period, all of us have paid off our mortgages.

Sometime in the last ten years, most of us have had significant student loan debt. In that same time period, all of us have paid it off.

Sometime in the last ten years, all of us have purchased replacement cars. In that same time period, all of us have paid them off in full and all of us are saving for their replacement.

As far as I can tell, at this point, all of us are debt free.

There are two things I really want to point out here.

First, the financial turnaround and improvement of the people in my life has been an inspiration to me. I’ve drawn upon their examples and ideas countless times to improve my own situation.

In the same breath, most of them have told me that my own financial turnaround has pushed them, too. It’s made them do the same thing – they’ve pulled examples from Sarah and myself and used them as tools and as motivation to improve their own state.

It’s mutually beneficial once the pattern starts going. Your friends and family reflect your changes, and you reflect their changes, too. It becomes an upward spiral of self-improvement, much like negative friendships can become a downward spiral.

Here’s the challenge, though. Are you ready and willing to take that first step? If you take a step or two and then give it some time, you’ll be surprised how your inner circle will often begin to come around.

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