[Note: Taking a personal inventory of who you are now is the first step in the Expand Your Life section of The Power Book]
This is a big one because it means evaluating the choices you are making in people, something many people are uncomfortable with because these connections can be very strong in both positive and negative ways. I suggest listing all the people in your life that you interact with on a regular basis: family, friends, co-workers, people you see casually like the barista who makes your latte or someone you chat with at the gym, etc.
Take this list and start an evaluation. On a 1-5 scale with 5 the highest, rank each person by the following criteria (try to be brutally honest here, again, no one else sees this list):
- Value in your life
- Supportive vs. critical
- Expansive vs. limited
- Wide circle of connections vs. limited and stale connections
- Fun vs. pain in the ass
- Positive vs. Negative
- Independent vs. dependent
- Takes responsibility vs. blames others or past
- Generous vs. selfish
- Interesting vs. Boring
You can see how this is going to unfold. Those on the positive, open side are your true friends, those on the negative, limiting and selfish side are people you cannot continue to associate with. Why? Because they are toxic and will actively try to keep you from expanding. They don’t like change and when someone in their life is activating positive change it makes them very uncomfortable.
This exercise is very powerful. It will open your eyes to people around you in many ways. Maybe that barista who makes your latte every morning and always adds to your ongoing conversation in a positive way is someone you should cultivate. Maybe that high school friend who always wants to do the same thing with the same people is someone you should let go.
This can be a difficult process of discovery. What if your spouse or a family member is holding you back? Better to understand clearly that this is the case now than to have them consume your life for years. You are literally losing vital time if you continue to cling to toxic people.
What if there is someone you value on many levels and don’t on others? Be an example of change by showing them where you’re going and sharing those positive things. Don’t go down the darker paths with them. They may actually grow with you. If they don’t, let them go.
The process of understanding who the valuable people in our life are is just the start. The next step is meeting new people, not just any new people, new people who start out being on the positive side of your evaluation. We all know people who start hanging out with someone who is inherently going to be trouble. This can absorb an enormous amount of energy- and for what?