Who you spend time with is who you become

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- "Watch the company you keep. Both optimism and gloom are contagious."--Alan Weiss
Over the last year I have been on a quest to document simple success strategies that if followed will increase career success. Today, I would like to share with you another key success strategy.

Raise your standards. Embrace a peer group that challenges you.
Whether you admit it or not, you have some small competitive edge in you. Use it to your advantage. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and compete with them. Each of you will feed off the success of each other. Set mutual goals and see who can achieve them first. You will hold each other accountable. People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. There are studies that show that one's income levels and physical fitness directly correlate with their closest circle of friends.

Avoid people who fill their lives with negativity and pessimism.
You probably know someone who always has a sarcastic remark or pessimistic outlook on anything that happens. He or she is always blind to any positive result from a situation. When you set new goals, it's these people who are the first ones to shoot down your ideas and not give you any support. They sometimes do it subtle ways, "Are you really sure you can do that?" "I've never seen anyone do that before." "My sister tried that and it didn't work." "Maybe you'll be one of the few that succeeds." You should encourage honest feedback from a trusted friend but avoid the constant pessimism that too many cling to.

Tell your goals to the people who will support you:
A good portion of motivational advice tells you to announce your goals to the world. This is supposed to keep you accountable. Maybe you have had trouble in the past keeping your goals. Well-intentioned family members and friends may remind you about these past failures. You do not need that negative energy on the path to success. Share your goals with people who you know will care about your success, who will cheer you on, and who will support you, on your path to success.

Proximity is power. Who you associate with will determine how far you get in establishing your rituals and following through on your goals. Will you work with a group of people who will challenge you or one that will breed apathy? Will you join a group of people who will support or a group that will keep you down? How will you use the power of others to continue on your path to success?

To move forward, think about your current circle of friends and family. Make a list of the people who will be the most supportive and those that will be less so. Be sure to note who can give you the best advice for achieving your goals. If you cannot find anyone, ask around and seek someone out. A powerful peer group can help you refine your vision, set challenging goals, and create an action plan." Remember, who you spend time with is who you become.