Your buds always send the best memes, answer your 2 a.m. existential crisis texts and bring over wine when a jerk ghosts you. But your friends can also help you become successful, says Jonathan Fields, author of How to Live a Good Life and founder of the Good Life Project. In fact, in a recent episode of his podcast, Fields argues that friends are, “hands down, one of the most important (but most ignored) markers of success.” But not just any wine-drinking buddy will do. Here are the five different types of friends you need to become your best self.
The Co-Striver. Also known as the “parallel playmate,” a co-striver is someone who shares some of the same challenges with you, even if you aren’t necessarily focused on the same job or goal. “[Co-Strivers are] people who are working to achieve something similar to you along the way, going through a similar process of seeking, struggling and working,” Fields says. One of the most important reasons a co-striver is a must? You have someone to commiserate with and vent to, which can bond the two of you even more. If you’re trying to go freelance (“ugh, invoices”) and your friend just started her own business (“seriously, invoices are the worst”), you might be excellent co-strivers.
The Champion. This friend is your cheerleader, ready to build you up whenever you need a self-esteem boost. “Their fundamental job is to lift you up when you’re struggling and to cheer you on,” Fields explains. If you haven’t run a mile since gym class and decide to train for a marathon, a Champion is the one who believes in you every step of the way, and is standing at the finish line with a huge, glittery sign she stayed up all night decorating.
The Accountant. No, they’re not counting your money—they’re holding you responsible. If you say that this is the year you’re finally going to get out of your dead-end job, the Accountant will continually check in and remind you if you’re not on track to hit that goal. This guy or gal is responsible for tough love and isn’t afraid to dish it out. And because some friends might be wary of overstepping a boundary, this is a dynamic you might have to ask for: Could you be the person who helps hold me accountable? “It’s important to actually get that level of agreement from them,” explains Fields. “You want them to know the outcome, your reason why it matters, the work that’s needed and the commitment that you’re making to actually do it.”
The Mentor. The best kind of mentor is someone who has either already been through whatever you’re dealing with, or someone who has successfully led other people down this path before. This friend might be older, but doesn’t have to be. They should, however, be more experienced. “The fundamental energy of your mentor is wisdom and acceleration,” Fields says, meaning this person will give advice based on a wealth of experience, and help make sure you’re continuing down the right path to get to your destination.
The Community. These are the friends you can go to brunch with in your sweats, hungover, on three hours of sleep, and they won’t judge you. They might have totally different stuff going on (one friend is an aspiring actor, one is a hedge fund guy, and one is a librarian looking to get into publishing), and that’s completely OK. “The fundamental energy that you get from community is a sense of belonging,” Fields explains. No matter what happens when you’re hanging out, you can just be you. Pretty amazing, right?