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Your  Five Closest Connections Can 
Make or Break Your Goal Achievement

By Lauren Keating

"In order [for you]to move more in a positive direction, these individuals will tend to have a more positive outlook,” said clinical psychologist Jeffrey Gardere, Ph.D. “Consider what their strengths and weaknesses are. They’re much more open in their views, perception psychology, as to living a life with more authenticity.”
  Known as “America’s psychologist,” Dr. Gardere said that you know who these people are in your life. And these are the people who have wisdom worth tapping into when examining your life objectives.
  “For advice, we’re going to go to people who have been much more successful personally and professionally in interpersonal relationships,” he said.
  Not only should the positivity rub off into your own decision-making, beliefs, and attitudes toward success,  but it also has a tangible impact on brain chemistry.

“Looking at how the brain works, when we’re getting advice from someone, I believe if the advice is genuine, and it is positive, and it is honest, the brain releases neurotransmitters and hormones like dopamine,” 
Dr. Gardere said. “This is positive reinforcement for what it is that we’re hearing.”
  Dopamine, the “feel good hormone,” is linked to pleasure and reward that can be released when making positive connections. “We tend to be healthier emotionally when we are connected to other people and are able to express ourselves,” said Dr. Gardere. “As we know oxytocin is released when we’re having positive interactions with other people.”

Oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” helps promote feelings of trust and empathy. The neurotransmitter serotonin helps regulate anxiety and boost happiness and is influenced by our social support networks.
  Positive social connections help us reach our goals and play a role in our mental health and emotional well-being.
  Conversely, negative social interactions can have the opposite effect. “We may not have that release of neurotransmitters if we’re getting advice that is contradictory to our values that are based on respect and honesty,” said Dr. Gardere.

But we shouldn’t keep close relationships that aren’t serving us just for the sake of not being lonely. Just because someone is what you perceive to be successful doesn’t mean their path to success is one to be followed if not aligned with your inner compass.
  “If their success has come with cutting corners, being ruthless, cheating others, eliminating competition, jealousy, being negative towards others, constantly being openly critical of other people—these are red flags.”
  Trust your own intuition. If the steps towards reaching your goal don’t feel right for you, chances are this is not the best way to achieve that goal—even if the rewards of success may come quicker or more easily.
  Oftentimes, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to negative traits, behaviors, actions, or beliefs from the people we are closest to—for example, friendships with those who are too judgmental or critical.
  Other times, we don’t even recognize negative influences. For example, a close friend might always encourage taking time off from work for leisure activities or skipping the gym for a night out for drinks. Dr. Gardere said this type of encouragement may come from a good place, such as a friend knowing you are very stressed out or need to unplug. He warns you to refrain from giving in to the temptation when it starts to be a chronic behavior that can veer you off schedule.

If a person is in your close social circle and has a negative effect on your happiness and ability to work towards goals, Dr. Gardere said sometimes they are probably not looking to identically give bad advice.“ But they’re probably having their own challenges in their own lives, and therefore tend to be more cynical, or live lives where they have not reached their potential, and therefore may be limited.”
  These people may just not be the healthiest place to be giving advice, so instead seek insight from those you are closest to who are in a healthy mindset. “I think more than anything else, giving yourself enough credit to understand what has made you successful, and not compromising on your own standards and values,”

he added.
  We can effectively set boundaries with those we are close with that might be hindering us from reaching our goals by being aware that they may not be the best people to weigh in on your decision-making when looking to live up to your potential.

Characteristics to look out for in your social circles should be those who enjoy the journey of success, not just the destination.
  “The most important thing is making sure that you maintain your efforts to be more authentic, lining up your values with your actions,” said Dr. Gardere. “Also recognizing other people or communities that are authentic, and actively working with those individuals to affirm each other’s authenticity.”
  Keeping your network filled with ambitious, goal-driven individuals can help you be psychologically aligned with similar traits. However, you may experience imposter syndrome and lack the confidence that you can achieve your goals as well.
  “We can get stuck in fight and flight or freeze when we see that we have a friend circle that’s doing amazing things,” he said.
  Dr. Gardere advised that you need to determine how you can come out of your comfort zone and surround yourself with those who can guide and provide positive reinforcement.
  If it’s true that you are the company you keep, then let the five closest people to you be those who will lift your spirits, fill you with positivity, and support you in reaching your goals.

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