Who Are You Surfing With?

My favorite surf spot is Topanga Beach. It’s a pretty well-known break in Los Angeles, so it attracts all types of surfers from around the city.

Usually, everyone in the water is divided into 2 groups …

You’ve got the really good surfers who sit way out in the deep back section. They’re mostly a fit and young group of people who have years of experience. They surf the biggest and best waves, have impressive talent, and take their hobby very seriously.

Then you’ve got the intermediate/beginners group. These surfers all sit closer to shore and catch the “leftover” waves. They are more relaxed, catch easier rides, and never push themselves too hard.

Although I’m experienced enough to surf in either group, my default has been to mostly hang in the easy zone where it’s comfortable. I feel good there. It’s easy and safe. I don’t have to try very hard in the easy zone …

How lazy it that?!

So … realizing this, about a year ago I woke up and decided to change my status quo. I challenged myself to leave my comfort zone and ride giants with the advanced crowd every time I paddled out. And you know what happened when I started surfing around the pros?

I progressed a HUGE amount!

I notice that every time I surf with people better than me I paddle faster, take riskier waves, and ultimately have a more satisfying surf session. I’ve learned more in the past 1 year from the advanced crowd than the prior 10 years in the beginner crowd.

Better yet, the confidence and skills I’ve learned at Topanga have elevated my overall experience when I visit other surf spots around California. It’s not like I’m joining the pro circuit or anything (I still suck compared to most good surfers), but I no longer have a beginner mindset everywhere I go.

What Happened When I Discovered the Personal Finance Community

A similar thing happened about 7 years ago when I discovered the finance community. A random Google search one day for “passive income rental properties” led me down a rabbithole and I started connecting with a whole new world of people. These knowledgeable money nerds were making huge moves personally, trying anything they could to improve their financial situation.

And since joining this crowd, I started making changes myself…

  • I created a budget for the first time
  • I reduced dumb spending on things that weren’t adding value to my life
  • I read all the top personal finance books
  • I started tracking my net worth
  • I built up a rental property portfolio
  • I discovered the FIRE movement
  • I started investing more efficiently, opening a Roth IRA and utilizing tax advantages
  • And somewhere along the way, I quit my job, became a personal finance blogger, and now am helping others elevate their money situation

My world significantly changed because of the company I kept.

Who Will I Be in 10 Years?

Jim Rohn said it best: “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I hate admitting this stuff, because I like to think that I’m 100% in control of my life. But the truth is that the people I hang out with most on a week-to-week basis have a major effect on the life I’m building. I subconsciously adopt my friends’ habits — good and bad — and these habits form the direction I’m growing in.

All this has got me thinking … I wonder who I’m going to be in 10 years’ time?

If I want to become the awesome man I’m picturing in my head (multi-millionaire, happy family man, generous helper and all around baller/shot-caller) I’d better start hanging out with people who can help me make this a reality!

Even if it’s scary to leave my comfort zone(s), maybe it’s time to start surfing with the pros in other areas of my life?

Who Are You Surfing With?

I’m not sure if you buy into this concept or not. But if you believe that the people around you shape who you become, maybe it’s worth reviewing:

  • Your closest friends and their spending habits
  • Your co-workers and their attitudes
  • Your family/friends and their money beliefs
  • The insta/twitter/fb accounts you follow 
  • Online/real-life groups or clubs you’re involved with

Are these environments helping you build your best future self? Are there groups or new people you could introduce to your life that elevate you more? 

And on the flip side, what are your friends/co-workers/family learning from you? How can you influence their lives in a positive way? A rising tide lifts all boats.


Thanks for reading and have a great day, y’all! I’m off to go surfing now in real life. 😎

Make it a great week!
– Joel

Pic of me from about 12 years ago when I lived in Hawaii!

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  1. LIsa O June 21, 2021 at 9:08 AM

    Great Monday Morning Read!

    That is why I have stayed off face book & limited tv news time! We are so programmed to run on others emotions because of what we currently are seeing. Getting to the point that I enjoy reading blogs with meaning for a better me or world. I have to say I have been reading this site for 10ish years and certainly feel that it has had a positive influence.

    Love the picture….I just see freedom!

    1. Joel June 24, 2021 at 8:42 AM

      Great to hear Lisa! Me too – I’m all about self improvement blogs and stuff I read. Not gonna lie, sometimes it gets overwhelming and my mind craves some garbage… But for the most part I try to consume good content :)

  2. adam@realworldpersonalfinance June 21, 2021 at 11:23 PM

    Great analogy. You are the company you keep. Plain and simple. As I’ve gotten “older” I realized I don’t want to associate with people who are not additive to my life. In other words, they don’t help me become a better me.

    1. Joel June 24, 2021 at 8:54 AM

      I know what you mean. If you’re surrounded by too many takers, it can be draining.

  3. Impersonal Finances June 22, 2021 at 12:30 AM

    Well–nobody… I need to learn to surf! I heard that Jim Rohn quote and it stuck with me. No need to cut out good friends or anything, but it has definitely led me to be more deliberate about seeking out interesting people to spend my time with.

    1. Joel June 24, 2021 at 8:45 AM

      FinCon 2022 in Long Beach. Surf Lessons starting at 6am every day of the conference hosted by yours truly.

  4. David @ Filled With Money June 22, 2021 at 9:37 PM

    It applies to so many aspects of life. When I started playing tennis, I just wanted to play with the people who I was comfortable and familiar with. I didn’t grew a lick at all.

    It was mostly the fear that I might not be as good as I think I am if I started playing with the people who were better than me. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was terrified of losing badly. I should have been willing to lose badly cause that’s when I can figure out how to grow the most.

    1. Joel June 24, 2021 at 9:10 AM

      Yep! Funny how fear of loss holds us back from things.

      Learning about real estate investing was scary for me too… I remember the first in-person meeting I went too, I felt so awkward I just found all the other new people there and talked to them all night. After 2-3 meet-ups I realized the only way I’ll really learn is to talk to people who have actually invested in real estate! haha. Changing crowds changed my direction big time.

  5. Beau W. June 25, 2021 at 7:15 AM

    That was a really motivating read! But it’s so true. I truly believe that if you hang out with great people that greatness rubs off on you. You begin to think great. Rohn is correct. Nice job Mr.Joel.

    1. Joel June 25, 2021 at 10:09 AM

      Cheers Beau! Hope all is well my friend!


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