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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Wallwork

The Law of Averages: You are the average of the top 5 people you spend the most time with.

Before you read this blog, I want you to take a minute to think about the five people in your life who you spend the most time with. This may be a partner, friend, family members, work colleague or someone else. Whoever they are, I want you to picture these five people and what a typical interaction is like with them? How frequently, what do you talk about, what activities you do together.

The Theory & Research

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn claims that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. This concept wasn’t something I had considered before; however after some consideration, I started to also see some truth in this.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Have you ever started to use phrases other people use, perhaps you swear more or pick up another accent? Maybe you go to activities you wouldn’t usually go to or eat food you wouldn’t normally eat? The people we surround ourselves with are the most significant influence on our behaviour, attitudes and results.

Who you are around influences what you are thinking, saying, doing and becoming — this sets the course of your life and affects the decisions and choices that you make daily.

According to research by social psychologist Dr David McClelland, "the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 per cent of your success or failure in life." Some people hold us back, while others propel us forward. For this reason, it is crucial to think about what the closest people to you do for your mental and physical health. This can be used as a starting point to construct your social environment actively. You need to be examining your entire network and its influence on your life.

Instead of falling into friendships and relationships by chance, you can consciously plan which opinions, attitudes and life-philosophies you do and do not want to be in your life.

Rohn's philosophy relates to the Law of Averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Of course, everyone is their own person, but research has shown that we're more affected by our environment than we think. When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced in our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. It even goes as far as appearances such following fashion trends like tattoos and piercings to feel like we 'fit' in!

The Impact

There are positive and negative impacts depending on who it is you are spending your time with and what it is you want out of that time. If you repeatedly spend time with people who are negative and demotivated, that will have a knock-on impact on you. Of course, we all have bad days, but if this is something that occurs regularly, you need to consider the benefit you are getting from this relationship. This may sound selfish, but everyone has a limited amount of time in a day, so what we do with that time needs to count.

Who you spend time with influences the person you are. Over time, relationships begin, some flourish and some diminish. As humans, we like to be part of a group, a tribe, a herd of sheep. Often, we don't want to be the one that stands out from the crowd and make a statement that disrupts the yin and yang of a relationship.

However, this behaviour can mean that we become stagnated and stop continuing to develop ourselves mentally and physically. For example, you may be an out-going, ambitious individual, but if you are surrounded by negative, fear-based people in your life, it will impact your decisions. However resilient you are, if you regularly hang out with pessimists who always look for the worst in situations, you will start to also think in this negative way, even if you are initially a positive person. However, contrastingly, if you hang out with a group of successful, positive individuals who believe in taking responsibility for their lives, you will become a proactive individual who shapes his/her future.

The Solution

By now you might have pinpointed particular people in your life who might not be great for you. However, this does not mean that you should sever relationships or cut away anyone who doesn’t contribute to your goals. It means that you should monitor your contact with these people who do not enable you to become a better person and at the same time look for opportunities to give you what you are missing. The first step of the solution involves some self-reflection and self-awareness of what you want in comparison to what you already have. The second step is a devising a plan of how to fulfil the void that you have identified and strategies to achieve this.

Self Awareness

Before you make any decisions about who you want to spend your time with going forward, there are some key questions which you need to consider.

1. What kind of person do you want to be?

This could be referring to your career, relationships, health, hobbies, education, volunteering. Ask yourself the question: When I am old and look back on my life, how do I want to see myself?

2. What qualities do you wish to possess?

This could be morals, particular behavioural traits or reactions to particular feelings/emotions. Think about people you aspire to become or respect in some way or another. If you want to become fitter, this might be someone at the gym, or if you want to become a chef, this might be someone who works at your favourite restaurant.

To help answer these questions, we need to refer back to the top 5 people would you spend the most time with. What are they like? What top three qualities do each of them represent? For each person, you need to consider whether they will be able to support or detract you from your vision for yourself and whether they bring you up or down.

Make the Change

Start by examining the people you spend the most time around. Consider if these people are enabling you toward your envisioned self. Once you have evaluated your relationship with the top five people, and have a better understanding of the person you want to become, you are then able to make more informed decisions about moving forward. The ultimate goal is to decide what it is that you want to change, and they type of person who is going to be able to support you effectively in achieving this.

This isn't about cutting off friends or family; it's about maximising your time and shaping your future in the way that's best for you. However, you will need to consider if these people are enabling you to achieve your goals. If they are not, identify and increase contact with the people who will allow you to become the best person you can be. 

Increasing your time could be as simple as incorporating listening to a daily 15-minute podcast of your favourite motivational speaker or going to a networking session to meet other people working in your industry. It could be organising a lunch with a colleague at work or going to a meet-up group of a hobby you are interested in. Over time your consciousness will alter and eventually, you will start resonating with the people you aspire to be. It might feel a bit alien and uncomfortable at first, but slowly you will find that you start thinking in the same way and start talking about the same topics as them. This thinking will then affect your actions, which will manifest into the results you want.

Further reading on this topic can be found here:

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