Everyone wants to live their best life. Acquiring and living your preferred lifestyle is a mentality that has been gaining momentum throughout the interconnected 21st century — and it’s just received a fresh boost of interest via the one-two punch of the pandemic and the Great Resignation.
The former forced many people to reevaluate what matters most as they spent months locked down, working remotely, and otherwise scrambling to make life work in an emergency environment. The latter was a remarkable shift in power, in which millions of workers took the reins back from their employers by walking away from low-quality or unfulfilling work.
Throughout all of this searching for (and finding) something better, it’s important to remember that it’s always easy to identify the issues in life. However, it’s much harder to figure out how you can start moving in a positive direction. One of the best ways to cultivate a positive move toward your preferred lifestyle is by working 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 help direct your life. It’s easy to have a vague idea of what a mentor does, but when you try to put that idea into a detailed definition, things can get confusing quickly.
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 provided as ancillary 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 can you expect to get from a mentor?
The University of Washington sheds some light on the critical follow-up question by explaining the multi-faceted role a mentor can play even within the confined context of a college campus. The school explains that “The knowledge, advice, and resources a mentor shares depend on the format and goals of a specific mentoring relationship.”
The University of Washington site goes on to explain that a mentor in college could provide guidance, emotional support, or information. They can even operate as a role model that a person can emulate.
This list of possible roles a mentor can fill leads us to another key point: what a mentor is not.
What a Mentor is Not?
A mentor provides key situation-specific support for a mentee. If you’re looking for a mentor, though, you need to understand what you shouldn’t expect them to do, too.
Bowling Green University points out that, while a mentor does important things like listen, encourage, motivate, and provide constructive criticism, they do not:
- Take over or perform tasks that the mentee should do.
- Use condemning or forceful influence or feedback.
- Protect a mentee from growth experiences.
- Allow friendship to cloud critical oversight.
These may be things that mentors should avoid, but it’s important for mentees to be aware of them, too. When looking for a mentor to help you with your lifestyle, you need to remember that you aren’t looking for someone to be your best friend. You aren’t asking them to unconditionally validate you or do things for you, either.
Mentor Loop adds that mentoring isn’t therapy or formal training. Nor is it a panacea where you can offload your responsibilities to someone else and let them take care of things for you.
When looking for a mentor, you want to find someone who can pour the right encouragement, wisdom, and advice into your life to help you make sound decisions and grow as a person.
Different Kinds of Mentors
There are many different forms that a mentor can take — especially when you’re talking about something as general as living life itself. This means 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 one who is also living the same kind of lifestyle you want to cultivate. This is a great solution since 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 preferred lifestyle mentor in one single human being.
Everyone is different. They have various preferences, circumstances, wealth, inspirations, aspirations, and experiences. Finding one person who can provide every facet of mentorship that you need is a tall order.
It’s also risky. By following a single person, you risk imitating their own lifestyle too closely, stunting your own individuality in the process.
The second way to approach mentorship is by finding trusted guides and counselors in each area of life where you need help. As you do this, you build a trusted friendship with each person, inviting them into your confidence and looking for their support and guidance as you grow.
Now, just to be clear, you don’t want to set up connections with twenty or thirty mentors at the same time. LifestyleInvestor Justin Donald points this out when he says that one of his own mentors told him “that it is really challenging, if not impossible, to maintain more than 12 incredible relationships and that you really need to get clear on who those 12 are.”
So, if you take the multiple mentor route, you still want to be strategic about what areas and what people you pursue. There are a limited number of relationships you can properly tend to. With that said, here are a few different kinds of common lifestyle mentors to consider:
A Spiritual Mentor
There’s a lot more to life than addressing your basic needs. That’s why one of the most common kinds of mentors is a spiritual counselor.
Consider what kind of convictions and beliefs lie at the core of your life. What is it that 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 issues have a tremendous impact on your life, all the same. In fact, at times, the decisions that you make with your money can continue to either haunt or help you for decades.
If you have a bad track record with money management, perhaps you need to find a mentor to help you understand how to prioritize where money should factor into a healthy lifestyle.
A Relationship Mentor
At the polar opposite of predictable, mathematical money we find relationships. These can be one of the more challenging parts of life to navigate. It’s hard to cohabitate and share your life with another person — even though it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do as a human.
Past struggles with relationships are a good indicator that you may want to find a mentor who can help guide you through the ups and downs of starting and maintaining healthy relationships.
A Workplace Mentor
You spend a huge amount of your life working. If you’re going to pour 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 kind of mentor as a “master of craft.” Do you need someone in your life who can help you fine-tune your skills and elevate your career to the next level?
A Productivity Mentor
This next one is a two-edged sword. Productivity is a necessary part of any lifestyle. You need to be able to apply yourself to your various responsibilities effectively and create good results in the process. With that said, many driven people also find themselves addicted to their productivity.
Whether you fall on the side of the under or over-productivity, it’s important to make sure you’re learning how to live a balanced life, productively speaking. If you struggle 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 who is much closer to your age and stage of life but who you recognize as having greater ability, experience, or knowledge than yourself.
Peer mentors can be a great way to motivate yourself in a friendly fashion. Just remember, if you’re looking for an actual mentor, you need to submit yourself to your peer mentor and accept constructive criticism when it comes.
Of course, these are just a handful of the different kinds of roles that mentors can fill. There are no hard and fast rules about what parts of life a mentor can and cannot help with. The important thing is that you find mentors who address your particular growth needs.
Building Your Preferred Lifestyle
As you consider what kind of mentorship you need in your life, remember that your pursuit of a mentor isn’t the end goal. Finding and depending on an individual to help you grow is certainly part of the mentorship process. But you can’t become complacent once you find a mentor.
Instead, continue to conduct self-evaluations. Ask meaningful questions (you can even go over them with your mentors) such as assessing if you’re growing, if you’re addressing the right issues, and what you can do next to continue your positive evolution.
If you can stay proactive about your mentorship journey, you’ll get the most out of each relationship that you create — and you’ll begin to reap the benefits in your own lifestyle before you know it.