The friends you keep go a long way in determining how you end up in life because friends have a strong influence over you whether positive or negative. Friendships could bring progress or retrogression to you; they could determine the set of opportunities you are presented with in life; they could determine your chances of failure or success in life.
Man was not created to live in isolation or live in an island of his own; he is by nature a being created to interact with others. We need people and relationships; we even need the negative ones i.e. we can even convert the negative ones to our advantage – to help us build character. For example to build the virtues of love and patience there must be at least a trouble maker around you that you are enduring.
Friendship could be varied and dynamic. Some friendships are seasonal, lasting for a phase of life or for a period of time or for a particular passing purpose. Some friendships that we had during secondary or high school or college days may fall into this category. As you go on in life, you path company, or after your degree or program you go your different ways.
There are some important factors to consider before choosing friends:
Ability to strengthen each other
The person or people you choose must be people that can edify, build and strengthen you and you too should be able to do same to them. Iron can only sharpen iron; the people you select as your friends must have good stuff in them, they must have intrinsic value for them to be of use to you. And you too must have these inward traits so that you both cancontribute value to each other.
Common goals, values, vision
Your friends must have common goals, values and vision with you. This does not mean that you would have the same profession or occupation; they must be people that their goals and visions align with yours. For example if you have a goal or vision to be a success in life and make positive impact in your generation, you cannot have a friend whose vision is limited to how he can make ends meet daily.
They must also be people that your core values are alike; core values could include integrity, honesty, diligence etc. Your friends should possess these and you should not compromise them. If their core values are contrary to yours by the time you begin to mingle with them they would definitely influence you wrongly and reorientate you.
Cultivating Lasting friendships
There is a Yoruba saying that twenty children cannot play for twenty years, it simply means that you can’t keep all your friends for a lifetime. While this is true, it is however important to cultivate valuable friendships otherwise they would die naturally, not because they can’t be sustained for a lifetime but because they need to be nurtured.
Friendship requires commitment. It requires you to give your time, attention and resources even when it is not convenient. A man that would have friends must be ready to show himself friendly, that is what the Good Book says. You must be ready to give attention, time and resources to your friends and vice-versa. Take time out of your busy schedule for your friends; show interest in their affairs. This is also how to attract or start making a friend. There is a saying that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show care and concern for your friends and prospective friends; don’t be all consumed or preoccupied by your own affairs alone.
You can have stimulating programs that can help build you academically, spiritually, career wise and in all other areas of life. Attend seminars together, take online courses, trainings program; you could these together or recommend to your friends the ones that are peculiar to or relate with them.
Avoid unhealthy rivalry
Avoid unhealthy rivalry or competition. You and your friends should avoid comparing yourselves with one another or competing with each other. The relationship should not be about who has gotten married first or who has the better cars or houses. You can encourage and sensitize each other or yourselves to make progress and even when it seems someone is lagging behind you can support and rally round him or her.
Have activities like hangouts, get-togethers, lunch etc that can help you bond together and catch up with events and developments in each other’s lives.
Be accountable to one another; this helps you to keep track of how you are making progress. It also helps when you have people that talk to you and help to restore you when you are veering off.