In this age of social media and constant connection 24/7, it’s not difficult to find a mentor for yourself.
an experienced or trusted adviser
Regardless of what field you’re interested in, or what particular element of life you’re struggling with right now, chances are there’s someone out there that you can look up to. Someone who can inspire, motivate and encourage you to start that business; go to the gym or even remodel your home.
However, with every positive comes a negative. Because we now have so much access to other people’s attitudes and routines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Of course it’s wonderful being able to get an insight into your ideal life and how to get there. But if you’re only ever seeing the same one path to success what happens if it doesn’t apply to you?
The way we view role models is through a process called vicarious reinforcement. Studies show that we model our behaviour on the actions we see get rewarded. For example, children may replicate their classmate saying ‘thank you’ after dinner once they have seen the rewards (ie. praise from the teacher or parent).
This is a process we are continuously working with. However, in adulthood it may seem more subtle – you might not even notice you’re doing it. This is where role models come from. We often idolise successful people and want to follow their actions in order to also receive the same rewards. Hence why self – help is such a popular genre!
Blogs like mine, YouTube channels, learning programmes – they all work based on this innate process of seeking rewards.
The trouble with this vicarious reinforcement is if you see the same kind of actions being rewarded time and time again, it can lead you to believe that there is only one way to succeed. And due to the nature of social media and trends, this is something that happens all the time.
Of course, for some cases there is only one direct path to rewards. For example, if you want to become a doctor then it is pretty essential that you study relevant subjects, get specific degrees and qualifications in order to become successful (this is your reward). In these cases, there is no issue in following mentors that are all on the same path, as you are likely to do being the exact same.
However for the rest of us, particularly those of who are in creative work, it just doesn’t work like that.
Despite what you may see online, there is not one path to success regardless of whether you want to be a writer, a YouTuber, a journalist, a photographer and so on. If you’re like me and you follow the same style of people online then you might believe that things like meditating, getting up at 5am, yoga and bullet journals are the only way you will be successful and ‘live your best life’.
Although taking advice from people who are doing what you want to be doing is extremely beneficial, always take it with a pinch of salt. You can try everything they advise you to do and still might not get any further. There is no need to feel ashamed about this; we all work differently and we all have different lives that we need to take care of, so it’s ridiculous to assume that we can all be successful in the same way.
This is why variety is so important.
HOW TO MIX UP YOUR MENTORS
- Try to find people in your ‘real life’ (as in offline) that are successful or are living a life that you see to be wonderful. See how they got there, see what they have. Chances are if you know them then you will understand that they are not perfect and they are unlikely to hide this fact.
- Don’t just focus on the field you want to go into, because the paths to these rewards may be similar. Try to see a range of successes from various different careers or fields to show yourself that there is never simply one way (ie. a mother, self – employed blogger, manager at work or a friend studying a different course)
- Limit your time spent on social media in order to avoid falling into comparison. Use social media to get inspired and motivated, but then put your phone down and use these tools to crack on with what you want to be doing.
Mixing up your mentors can be wonderfully beneficial and may lead to you being more productive. Who is your number one role model right now?