Spending my time wisely

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ~Jim Rohn

I came across this quote in an article on Lifehacker a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since then. Although the article’s focus was on being successful and how the people we surround ourselves with affects our success, it seems to me that this would be equally true in other aspects of our lives.

If I am the average of the five people I spend that most time with, then I should be spending a lot more time and energy choosing those five people to make sure that they are people who I want to be like.

I’ve written before about my tendency to pick friendships based on our being wound mates and about my co-dependent tendencies that lead me choose people who seem to need my help. The impact of choosing these types of relationships is that I am choosing to surround myself with people who either reinforce my woundedness or who are ultimately either needy or controlling (or both). And if I become the average of that group, it does not lead me any closer to becoming the person I want to be. In fact, it generally goes the other way.

Now that doesn’t mean that I should never befriend someone who is going through a difficult time—we all go through hard times and that’s when we rely on our friends to help get us through. It does mean that I want to focus more on how someone goes through their hard times, though. I’d rather spend my time with people who use hard times as learning opportunities and who step up to take responsibility for doing what they can to better the situation and to find healing. I want to spend less time with people who deal with hard times by blaming others, playing the victim, or refusing to deal honestly with the situation. I care more about the character the person displays than about the particular challenges (or lack of them).

As I continue to spend more time alone in silence in order to focus on my writing and on the reading and processing that I need for my own self-growth right now, choosing how I spend my social time is even more important than usual since it is so limited. I want my limited time spent with other people to be working with the changes I’m trying to make in my life rather than pulling against my growth.

It was on my mind again this evening as I had dinner with a new friend. She had just gone through a really tough week and a half or so, and she needed to vent. As I listened to her story, I was struck by how she was already finding the learning, the positives, and the humor in the situation despite the fact that it was only a few days after the events. She was actively looking for ways to re-frame it, to drop blame, and to let go of the parts she couldn’t change. I admire that, and those are character traits that I would like to strengthen in myself. She would be a positive influence that would support my growth into the person I want to be.

I need to spend more time noticing things like that as I make new friends to make sure I’m doing a better job at choosing to spend my time with people who I would be happy to be more like. I have some of those people in my life now, and I am grateful for their influence. I intend to more actively focus on this criteria from now on. It matters who I spend my time with, so I need to choose wisely.

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8 thoughts on “Spending my time wisely

  1. “…then I should be spending a lot more time and energy choosing those five people to make sure that they are people who I want to be like.” I have to add, “or that I don’t want to be like.” Isn’t it disconcerting at times that we actually have a say who we want – or don’t want – in our lives? I feel strongly that sometimes those people we see in the mirror are actually people we DON’T want to be. It’s awe-inspiring when we acknowledge who we allow to impact us and who we don’t, and that it’s ultimately our choice – and powerful, indeed.

    • Yes, absolutely, Lisa! Thanks for mentioning this. I’m just starting to really grasp how much choice I have in the question of the people who are (and are not) in my life, and it is quite powerful indeed!

      • I went back and read my comment today – let’s just say that red wine after a hard day was involved. LOL I am pleased it made sense. I was somewhat fearful I rambled in disconnected phrases that went to pen before my mind processed the thoughts I wanted to share. Thank you, again, KJ, for sharing your journey.

  2. Love the quote your found. The people around use create our “norm”. On a subconscious level we will start to mirror the people around us. Once I started seeking out groups of creative writers my writing got better. Thanks you for sharing.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Finding more writers to spend time with is one of the things I really need to do. I’m glad to hear how much it’s helped you!

      • Rita Mae Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle) said, “Normal is the average of deviance.” I love the definition. I don’t think she meant deviance in it’s negative connotation, as in perversion, but in the sense of one extreme to another. This can be applied to any “norm” out there. I think every facet of my life, when I’m honest with self, falls outside the normal range. It is my quest to seek more of a balance and less deviance, though deviance can be fulfilling and rewarding, too. 🙂 And, yes, JoleneNavarro, the ever-present “they” set those societal norms we are all expected to fit nicely into. I never have fully identified who “they” are but I bet they are boring! I like living outside the box – it’s much more fun out here!

      • Amen to living outside the box!! I also fall outside the “normal” range in many areas, and the older I get, the more I’m ok with that. I do think balance is important, but I also think that each of us finds balance in our own unique way. My balance will probably look completely different from yours, which will look completely different from JoleneNavarro’s, and so on. Life is so much more fun, I think, when we embrace a wider range of deviance from that average normal. 🙂

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