by Darrin Schenck


by Darrin Schenck


I have been on yet another big self improvement kick recently, it is a never-ending pursuit for me.  And I enjoy the discovery, the process and the sharing of this newly acquired knowledge with anyone who is interested.  But here is a thing that is an unintended consequence of this constant improvement mindset:  I lose casual friends over it.

Self Improvement is like a Prison Break…you are gonna leave people behind

that are stuck in place and that is just how it is.

You are surrounded by people in all stages of their own lives and self improvement (or self destruction) journey.  Many people are barely getting by in life by one definition or another, so I know that lots of people are not going to

A.  Have time

B.  Be interested

C. Take Action

with many of the things that I try to do on a regular basis.  I get it, I am well aware that I am an anomaly, an outlier.  This is by design, and as the old saying goes, the farther up the mountain you climb, the fewer people that share the same view as you do.  Er, something like that.  Anyway, it is s fact of life that despite pinkie swearing with your best friend in high school that you’ll always be best friends, things change.  Life gets in the way, moves you around, changes your ideas.  For someone else to move parallel with you through the stages of life is very unlikely.  Even people in a marriage struggle to stay truly connected and of the same mindset and goals.  Which is a main reason I am vehemently opposed to getting married before age 30.  But that is a rant for another time…

Back to the prison break analogy, when you work in an office for example, you have several people that are likely peers and do the same work you do.  You are “stuck” within the confines of this current experience, and this could last a lifetime.  Some are happy to show up, clock in to do work, clock out and collect a paycheck in exchange.  If you did the same for a while but then ended up being offered a different position in the company, your circle of influence will change.  You’ll make new friends in the new department you now work in, and the old ones will slowly drift away.  If you get fired, or you move to another city, this will sever the ties even faster.  But what happens when you make a choice to, for example quit smoking?  This is where the prison break analogy really becomes clear.

If you want to start living differently, you will be unlikely to keep many of the current friends you have.  If you are no longer sneaking outside for a smoke break with the others you used to join in this activity, you will start to leave them behind.  NO ONE wants to be reminded that they are doing things wrong, the hard way, etc. and when one of you from the group decides to break free and do something different or improve their life, then you become somewhat of an outcast.  These “friends” will even try to sabotage you, pull you back in by offering you a cigarette to get you back in the mix.  It is not as harsh as it sounds, in most cases they are just trying to keep things status quo.  But if the status quo is not for you, you have to break free.  Plan your escape, map out the time and the route, and then go for it!  And you NEED a plan, otherwise you will be susceptible to a backslide, right back to where you were.  This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but rather a reminder that a better plan will be necessary.  Get up, dust off, and try again.  Break free.  Whether it is a better diet, less or no drinking, more exercise, a promotion at work, a better relationship with your significant other, all of these and more take work and commitment to improving.  And all of these will have a circle of friends associated with them that help to hold you there.  And many of those friends, you will find out, are situational friends.  They are not hard core, here-for-you-no-matter-what, call me for bail money and a ride home from jail kind of friends.  Those will stay with you for a lifetime, but most people are more casual friends at best.

Because of this realistic look at those who you spend time with, it may make it easier to break free of those circles.  These kind of circles of social influence are not always in your best interest.  I do believe strongly that the people you spend the majority of your time with are a direct reflection of what your goals in life are.  I do not have a fantasy football league I participate in, nor do I go to a sports bar every weekend to watch football.  I don’t tailgate, and I don’t do a lot of things that other people do.  Do I miss out on some of the fun associated with these things, of course.  But do I MISS it?  No, I do not.  I things I want to accomplish and none of the aforementioned things are helping me achieve those goals.  Yes, I take a break and lift my nose off the grindstone, but It is not for long.  I don’t live a life that needs escaping from in the first place, so many of these (my opinion) mindless activities serve a purpose for me.  Once in a while I will round up some friends and meet for a UFC fight at a bar, and I enjoy the heck out of it.  Because it is a rare treat when I do it, I really enjoy those moments.  If I did it every weekend, it would get routine in a hurry.  But think about the other things tied to sitting in a bar all afternoon on a Sunday; I am eating crappy food, possibly drinking alcohol or soda, etc.  This will affect how I sleep, probably if I go to the gym the next morning or not, etc.  Things spiral off track quickly if you allow them.  Schedule fun and do things you enjoy, but in my opinion you need to do them around the other priorities you have.

I do not want to look back on my life and see that I have taken the path of least resistance and never really left my mark.  I know for a fact that far more people regret the things they didn’t do in life vs the things they did.  I do not want to be one of those people, and I am working hard to ensure that.  Come join me if you like…


I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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