I have heard it said that two things that determine where you end up in life are: the books you read and the people you associate or hang out with.  I interpret these two factors as “input” and “association”.  They are two powerful factors that shape our lives.

Many of us make plans and resolutions.  We are well into the second half of the year now, and I looked back at the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year and was not too surprised to see that I have not even attempted some of them even up till now.  Meanwhile, I was so sure I had them under my belt before writing them down.

Our lives are that way.  We start out with big dreams as kids.  Strangely, everyone around us encourages us to keep talking about those dreams.  They even entertain us in charting out our course of how we will be that first Nigerian to go to outer space.  But as we grow, we start hearing phrases like “be realistic”, “stop daydreaming and go and do your homework!”  This is the power of association.  Suddenly, the people you associate with have changed their mentality about your dream and are forcefully stealing it away from you!  So what do we do, we settle and become the average of those we hang around.

If you want to drastically change your life and achieve the dreams and goals you have set your mind to, 3 things have to change.  Even if you don’t have goals or dreams but you just want to improve your circumstances and lifestyle, then these 3 things have to be improved in your life.  They are the things that make you or break you.  And, unfortunately, they are grossly underrated.  They are taken very casually by the masses; but extremely seriously by the classes.

What are these 3 factors that affect where you end up in life?

Your Input
“Garbage in, garbage out”.  We all heard that saying, especially while taking computer classes in primary school.  What (information) you feed the computer with is what (result) you expect the computer to produce.

The same with our lives, you know?  Physically, if you eat good food, you’ll feel well and live well; if you eat the wrong foods, you’ll feel worse and perhaps not live long or well.  Input and output. Garbage in, garbage out.

The mental aspect is huge.  It is not seen by the physical eyes, and so is hugely ignored.  But there is mental food also.  What books do you read? What movies or TV shows do you watch? What are the lyrics to the songs you listen to?  How much time do you spend on social media?  These are questions to ask yourself regarding your daily input.  They shape your thoughts and you begin to act them out uncontrollably.  People are now okay using cuss words because they hear them being used on TV.  People are okay being ‘baby mamas’ because their favourite celebs make it look cool on Instagram .

Once a person begins to ‘laugh at’ the values they once held dear to themselves, they are finished!  Your input has an almost direct effect on your values and once it is able to change them and replace them with other values, just know that your future is changed, for better or for worse.

Your Association
“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are”.  That is no joke of a statement.  Even personal finance gurus have said that our net worth is usually the average net worth of our five closest friends.  Small groups of people are the most powerful form of behavior modification known.  That is why when people want to stop a bad habit such as alcohol abuse, they go to AA meetings to talk and share their hearts with others like them in the same struggle and, through that, they get better as everyone else in the group gets better.

Who are your friends, and how did you choose them?  Was it just because he sat at the cubicle next to yours in the office that he became your friend? Or was it just because she was your classmate that you’ve been carrying her around as your friend all these years?  What about values?  What about vision? What about aspirations? What about mindset?

Your network in life, will determine your net worth.  And it doesn’t stop there; it will determine your health (because you probably eat the same things together and have the same lifestyle habits), it will determine the number of countries you’ll visit, it will determine your level of thinking (whether you believe that your reason for not succeeding is an uncle in the village or the choices you’ve made in life –such as your association) and, scariest of all, it will determine how your children would live.

Identify those who pull you down like crabs in a bucket, and break free from them.  Choose new friends though –much better ones, of course –because heaven knows you can’t succeed in this thing called life, alone.

Your Environment
Most people only look at your input (books, etc) and your association (friends, family, etc) as factors that determine where you end up in life.  But I think that your environment plays a subtle role as well.

It is tricky because you create your own environment.  The people you surround yourself with, for example, make up your environment.  But sometimes, your physical environment plays a major role in how you end up.  A dirty environment would soon lead to poor health and a shorter lifespan.  Therefore, it is unwise to be untidy and unclean.  That is within your control.

One thing that is not within your control is the family you’re born into.  And that forms your first environment of exposure.  If you have family members with negative mindsets and limited aspirations, then it would take special interventions for you to become a dreamer and an ambitious doer.  When we are old enough, however, it is important to evaluate our current environment.  By this time, we are old enough to make the decision to move. And we should perhaps take that decision!

The city, state or country you live in also impacts the way you think, behave, and the kinds of friends you have.  Traveling is a good idea, to explore the world and learn from different cultures; take the best from each and become a better human being who can then go back and influence their surrounding and create an environment that you wouldn’t have to run away from.

Your place of work, your school and even your social media sites and pages are all environments that affect how you live and end up in life.  The question to you is: are they currently lifting you up or pulling you down? Are they positive or negative environments? Do you feel energized or enervated after leaving them?

These 3 factors –input, association and environment –shape our destinies.  What we feed our minds with affect the way we think.  We are drawn to people who think like us, so we naturally gravitate towards them and they become our association.  Our input and association together become what we are familiar with, what we are used to –they become our environment.  This environment reinforces our thoughts and shapes our beliefs.  Our thoughts and beliefs become the words we speak.  Our words become our actions.  Our actions, having been repeated over and again for a while, become our habits.  Habits are so powerful that they become our character.

Destiny is the output.  The garbage-out resulting from our (garbage-in) input.  The books you read, the people you hangout with and the environment within which you live all come together to determine your destiny.  What is your destiny for the remaining half of the year? What are those goals and resolutions that, like me, you have failed to attempt since the year began.  Look at these 3 factors and see whether anyone of them is possibly holding you down.

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