Everyone wants to live their best life. Acquiring and living your favorite lifestyle is a mindset that has gained traction in the interconnected 21st century — and it just got a new boost of interest via the one-two punch of the pandemic and the big layoff.
The first forced many people to re-evaluate what matters most, as they spent months locked up, working remotely, and otherwise scrambling to make life work in an emergency. The latter was a remarkable power shift, with millions of workers taking back the reins of their employers by walking away from low-quality or unsatisfactory work.
During all this seeking (and finding) something better, it is important to remember that it is always easy to identify the problems in life. However, it is much more difficult to figure out how to start moving in a positive direction. One of the best ways to cultivate a positive step toward your preferred lifestyle is to work with a mentor.
What is a mentor?
The concept of a “mentor” deserves further investigation, especially if you’re considering finding one (or more than one) to guide your life. It’s easy to have a vague idea of what a mentor does, but when you try to turn that idea into a detailed definition, things can quickly get confusing.
So what is a mentor then? Strictly speaking, according to Merriam-Webster, the dictionary definition of a mentor is “a trusted counselor or guide.” The words “tutor” and “coach” are also given as additional definitions or synonyms.
These definitions can help you get a general idea, but what is the specific role of a mentor? Or to put it another way, what is possible? you expect to get a mentor?
The University of Washington sheds some light on the critical follow-up question by explaining the multifaceted role a mentor can play, even within the limited context of a college campus. The school explains, “The knowledge, advice and resources a mentor shares depend on the format and goals of a specific mentoring relationship.”
The University of Washington site further explains that a mentor in college can provide guidance, emotional support, or information. They can even act as a role model for a person to emulate.
This list of possible roles a mentor can fulfill leads us to another important point: what a mentor is not.
What a mentor is Not?
A mentor provides important situation-specific support to a mentee. However, if you are looking for a mentor, you also need to understand what not to expect from them.
Bowling Green University points out that while a mentor does important things such as listening, encouraging, motivating and providing constructive criticism, they do not:
- Taking over or performing tasks that the mentee should be doing.
- Use judgmental or forceful influence or feedback.
- Protect a mentee from growth experiences.
- Let friendship cloud critical oversight.
These may be things that mentors should avoid, but it’s also important that the mentees are aware of them. When looking for a mentor to help you with your lifestyle, remember that you are not looking for someone to be your best friend. You also don’t ask them to unconditionally validate you or do things for you.
Mentor Walk adds that mentoring is not therapy or formal training. Nor is it a panacea where you can hand over your responsibilities to someone else and let them take care of it for you.
When looking for a mentor, you want to find someone who can give you the right encouragement, wisdom and advice in your life to help you make good decisions and grow as a person.
Different types of mentors
There are many different forms a mentor can take, especially when you’re talking about something as general as life itself. This means that you can approach finding a lifestyle mentor in two different ways.
First, you can look for someone who is older and more experienced than you and someone who also has the same lifestyle that you want to cultivate. This is a great solution because you can find one person and build a single, deep and meaningful relationship.
The only problem? It’s hard to find everything you need in a favorite lifestyle mentor in one person.
Everybody is different. They have different preferences, circumstances, wealth, inspirations, ambitions and experiences. Finding one person who can provide every facet of mentorship you need is a challenge.
It’s also risky. By following a single person, you risk imitating their own lifestyle too closely, hindering your own individuality in the process.
The second way to approach mentorship is to find trusted guides and counselors in any area of life where you need help. As you do this, you build a trusted friendship with each person, invite them into your trust, and seek their support and guidance as you grow.
To be clear, you don’t want to make connections with twenty or thirty mentors at once. LifestyleInvestor Justin Donald points this out when he says one of his own mentors told him “it’s really challenging, if not impossible, to have more than 12 incredible relationships and you really need to get clear on who those 12 are.”
So if you’re taking the multi-mentor route, you’ll still want to be strategic about what areas and what people you’re pursuing. There are a limited number of relationships that you can take good care of. That said, here are a few different types of common lifestyle mentors to consider:
A spiritual mentor
There is much more to life than just meeting your basic needs. Therefore, one of the most common types of mentors is a spiritual counselor.
Think about which beliefs and beliefs are at the core of your life. What drives you and is the center of your existence? Do you need a mentor to help you refine this understanding?
A financial mentor
Finances may seem cold and calculating to you, but all financial problems have a huge impact on your life. Sometimes the decisions you make with your money can haunt or help you for decades.
If you have a poor record of money management, you may need to find a mentor to help you understand how to prioritize where money should play a role in a healthy lifestyle.
A relationship mentor
In the opposite of predictable, mathematical money, we find relationships. This can be one of the more challenging parts of life to navigate. It’s hard to live together and share your life with someone else – even if it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do as a human being.
Past struggles with relationships are a good indicator that you may want to find a mentor who can help you build and maintain healthy relationships.
A mentor in the workplace
You spend a large part of your life working. If you want to put tens of thousands of hours into an activity, it’s a good idea to find someone with more professional experience to give you advice along the way.
The TEDx team refers to this type of mentor as a ‘master of the trade’. Do you need someone in your life who can help you refine your skills and take your career to the next level?
A productivity mentor
This next one is a double-edged sword. Productivity is a necessary part of any lifestyle. You must be able to use yourself effectively for your various responsibilities and achieve good results. That said, many driven people are also addicted to their productivity.
Whether you fall on the side of under- or over-productivity, it’s important to make sure you learn how to productively lead a balanced life. If you’re struggling to find that balance, you may need a mentor to help you along the way.
A peer mentor
Finally, we have a peer mentor. This is someone much closer to your age and stage of life, but whom you recognize as having more ability, experience or knowledge than yourself.
Peer mentors can be a great way to motivate yourself in a friendly way. Remember, if you’re looking for a true mentor, you need to submit to your peer mentor and accept constructive criticism when it comes.
Of course, these are just a handful of the different types of roles that mentors can fill. There are no hard and fast rules about which areas of life a mentor can and cannot help with. Most importantly, find mentors that meet your specific growth needs.
Building your favorite lifestyle
When you think about what kind of mentorship you need in your life, remember that looking for a mentor is not the end goal. Finding and relying on a person to help you grow is definitely part of the mentorship process. But you cannot become complacent once you have found a mentor.
Instead, keep doing self-assessments. Ask meaningful questions (you can even discuss them with your mentors), such as assessing whether you are growing, whether you are tackling the right problems, and what you can do next to continue your positive evolution.
If you can stay proactive in your mentorship, you’ll get the most out of every relationship you create — and start reaping the benefits of your own lifestyle before you know it.