"People play five different roles," says author Jonathan Fields in the most recent episode of The Good Life Project podcast. "Some of these people play multiple roles, but if we think about the people in success scaffolding, we're looking at people to play five distinct roles." After combing through a wealth of friendship-based research (of which there is a lot, y'all), Fields concluded that, yes, your friends, mentors, and colleagues absolutely have an influence when it comes to reaching your goals.
Here are the five people you need in your life.
Co-strivers: "Co-strivers or 'parallel playmates' are people who are working to achieve something similar to you along the way, going through a similar process of seeking, and struggling, and working," says Fields. Look around at work: The person with whom you share a cubicle and the other who shares your affinity for idle chit-chat in the office kitchen both fall into this category. Your run club could also be considered your parallel playmates, since you're all working toward the common goal of crossing that 10K finish line.
Most importantly, these are the people you commiserate with, according to Fields. "It's like, you get to grumble together, you get to complain together, you get to wake up in the morning [to run] and think, 'Oh my god. Why am I doing this again?' You get to share your stories about how this happened, and this happened, and this happened," says Fields.
Champions: These are the folks waiting with pom-poms after you win or a box of tissues after you fail. "The champions' fundamental job is to lift you up when you're struggling, when you're falling down," says Fields.
Accountants: "This is someone who's primary goal is accountability. This is someone who actually shows up and says, 'Okay, this is what you told me that you want to do, and you told me that this is the work you're willing to put in to do it,'" Fields says. While it's possible to find a champion and an accountant rolled up into one, two separate people is actually the ideal. One will offer you undying support; the other dispenses tough love.
Mentors: These figures can take the form of a career coach, a family member, or someone who's achieved what you hope to achieve. "You're looking for people that in some way, shape, or form deeply understand the journey that you have committed to. Very often, they have gone on the same journey themselves. They also are much further down the road than you," says Fields.
Community: According to the Fields, what you need in your life more than anything is a #squad that makes you feel supported 24/7. "This is feeling like you are part of something that is bigger than you, and the fundamental energy you get from community is a sense of belonging. A sense of you can show up as yourself. You don't have to do anything to fit in and that you will be accepted and held," he says. Play your cards right, and surrounding yourself with the first four archetypes will create the only community you need.
And since a successful community calls for reciprocity—you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours—what role do you play in the community you're a part of? As you assemble the scaffolding around your own life, consider how you can help to build up others as well.
Speaking of the family you choose, what effect does that group text have on your relationships? Plus, a simple ritual that will help you build healthy friendships.
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