Who are your five people? A Journal Exercise
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This isn’t just common sense, it’s backed up by science.
Think about it this way.
If you are raised in a very wealthy family, you become accustomed to a particular lifestyle. Maybe you take lavish vacations each year with your family. You might spend $400 or $1,400 on an everyday sweater and drive a luxury vehicle. Maybe you never had to consider how much your education cost or how you would finance your first business.
You are comfortable with this standard of living. You expect this standard of living. You wouldn’t settle for less because you wouldn’t even consider it an option, it wouldn’t even cross your mind.
If however, you are raised in a poor family, you become accustomed to that style of living. Maybe your family lives paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you are always stretching just to make ends meet, to have food on the table, and to keep the lights on. You worry about every penny.
You are comfortable with this standard of living. You expect this standard of living. You may not realize what is truly possible for you, that you could get a top education or become rich. You wouldn’t consider it an option, it wouldn’t even cross your mind.
In both of these examples it’s your environment creating who you are. The main influence in your environment growing up is your family.
Careers are another example of how we’re influenced by our environment and the people we are around. If your parents are entrepreneurs making their income from their own businesses and ideas you would think this is normal. But if your family has always worked for someone else earning a steady paycheck then becoming and entrepreneur may be the scariest thing in the world to you.
If all your friends go to college, you are far more likely to go as well, don’t you think?
According to the definition in the Oxford dictionary, influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Influence is real.
According the Harvard School of Public Health, research has shown that a person’s chance of becoming obese increases by 57% if a close friend is obese, 40% if a sibling is obese, and 37% if a spouse is obese.
Thinfluence author, Walter Willet, also states, “Obesity is ‘contagious’ but physical activity and healthy eating are too, so we want to emphasize the latter. Invite friends to join you for a walk or for an evening of cooking healthy foods. Bring your friends along in a positive way. That is the ultimate goal.”
People who smoke are more likely to have children that smoke, people who do drugs are more likely to have children who do drugs. People who have pets are more likely to have children who also have pets.
This influence is not limited to our intimates, our friends, and our families. We are influenced by a much bigger circle than just our five people. We are influenced by our greater social world, our community, our church, our government, our social systems.
If we want a different life, we have to do or be something different.
We have to realize that our immediate circumstances are not all that is available to us. We have to be aware that there are endless possibilities in life but if we don’t know someone who has been there, done that, we have a really hard time believing it’s possible.
In the 1950’s, Roger Bannister ran the mile in under four minutes, after many years of it being thought impossible. Soon after he did it, many people followed in his footsteps and did it too, they just had to see that it was possible.
This is one reason why we seek out mentors. People who have been there before us. We know they will be a good influence on us based on their achievements and experiences. They can lead us and guide us in our journey.
Which brings us to, have you ever considered your five closest people? Are your people lifting you up? Are they living healthy lifestyles, adding value to the world, and most importantly, are they still growing? Are they willing to try new things?
Try this Journal Exercise
1. Reflect on your average week.
Take a few moments to think about your average week, write down all the people you interact with throughout your day. Your five people likely include a partner, family, co-workers, and friends.
2. Write down how much time you spend each person on your list.
You will clearly see who you spend the most time with, note your top five.
3. Evaluate your list.
Now that you know who your five people are, evaluate your list. Ask yourself a few questions about each person on your list.
- Overall, does this person lift you up or pull you down?
- If you wanted to, can you limit your time with this person?
- If you wanted to, can you increase your time with person?
- Is anyone on this list truly toxic?
- Is there anyone in your life that didn’t make it to the top five and you wish they had?
4. Reflect on where you are now in your life and consider where you want to be in the next year or two.
- Do you want to make some changes to your five people?
- Do the people in your life support the person you are becoming?
- Do you want to develop new relationships to help you reach your goals?
- Can you identify people you would like to spend more time with?
- Can you identify people you would like to spend less time with?
5. Take action.
Use your new relationship knowledge when you are scheduling your time.
Taking action may look like this...
You have a goal to get healthier and lose 20 pounds.
You see you are spending a lot of time with your sister. She always wants to eat out at places that don’t support your weight loss goal. She often teases you about your new health crazes and tries to convince you to just be the old, more fun, you.
Instead of planning a lunch date with your sister, maybe you ask her to meet you at the local trail for a walk instead.
You want a promotion at work.
You notice you spend a lot of time with Jenny at the office, complaining about everything wrong with the company you work for. Jenny hates her job and doesn’t have any plans to grow in her career.
Instead of having coffee with Jenny every day, you branch out and begin getting to know some of your other co-workers. You create some new relationships, not based on complaining or gossip, and learn a lot about the company. People notice your positive outlook and interest in the company.
You may ask your manager or someone in your career path to become your mentor and begin having coffee with them occasionally.
Do you see how useful it is for you to pay attention to whom you give your time?
I’m not suggesting you start dumping people. I am suggesting that you readjust how much time you give to people and in what capacity. Really make conscious decisions about who you allow into your life.
You are in charge of who you spend your time with even when it feels like that’s not true.
If you are in a toxic work environment and can’t get away from them, maybe you have to look for a new job.
If you have family members that are real downers, limit your exposure. No one says you have to attend all the events. Attend only events that will allow you the space to avoid them.
Some relationships will fade away when you simply stop feeding them and others will bloom in their place, make sure you are deciding which relationships are blooming.