You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. We’ve all heard this before right. Typically it makes a lot of sense because, we’re typically spending time with people. For the past several months, and fast approaching a year believe it or not, our circle of 5 people has changed. For many, it was largely comprised of the group of people you spent your 8 or more hours a day with, our colleagues. Not only did we work side by side with them but we joked with them, were influenced by their moods, were spurred on or felt justified in our complacency based on their motivation in work. Our 5 people likely also included a few friends. We were getting coffee with them, going out on Friday night with them, and meeting for different activities like spin class or play dates or lunches. So much of that has changed and you start to lose track of when the last time you saw those people and forget the impact they were having. Based on your location, job type, age, personal preference, etcetera all of this may not be gone, but it is certainly looking different and has been for a while. Regardless of the amount of change you’ve experienced with this, it is hard.
I am telling you people, this is another Covidblessing in disguise. Typically we fall into our 5 people. We don’t really choose to spend time with them thinking I want this person to mold my life. We just naturally gravitate to different people and they end up influencing who we are. Intentionality becomes the roadmap out of the normal you got lost in. Since we have the opportunity to be intentional about this I’m going to take you through a couple steps in refining your 5. It won’t be difficult but you may want to just grab a piece of paper and pen real quick.
- Who makes up your current 5? We aren’t deciding good or bad right now just acknowledging who is there, be honest. There is still some combination here right but again, at this point, you likely just fell into them again. As in, I mean it could be your spouse, children, mother-in-law, and whatever celebrity posts the most in your Instagram feed. Some of us cannot seem to turn off the news so part of our 5 may be an anchor, health official, or political correspondent. Others still have a very strong tie to work so it could be those who are best able to utilize the chat function or the ones that are the neediest during this time and are therefor reaching out exorbitantly. It’s typically easiest to make a list of everyone you think of and narrow to 5.
- Is this combination serving you? You may love them all very much, or really respect their opinion, or have no choice but have more contact with that person, but what is it doing for you? Are you developing into who you want to be based on that group? Reminder this is not a judgment of any single person but rather the group of people you’ve found yourself surrounded by. The combination matters because while one attribute might be useful if there is too much of it can take you out of balance. For example, if having someone who is driven is important and helps you push forward, awesome! If your 5 is comprised of your spouse, your boss, your kids, and celebrities they may make you feel like you should keep your foot on the gas at home, at work, with school projects, and in your health. Whoa man, in a season like this one that could be rough. The same it true too if the bulk of the group is pushing for rest in all areas, you need the right combination for you. Write our the characteristics that these people represent to give you an idea of where you’re at now.
- What gaps exist? This gap could show up as a specific person, persona, or characteristic. If you’re specifically missing Peggy and can’t see her more, is that feasible skype, call, or text more than you do? If not, what is it about that person that you want to make sure you have as part of your 5? Maybe they fulfill a whole persona, the guide, without this person you’re feeling unsure of your next step. Maybe they just hold a single characteristic for you, are they optimistic, supportive of your dreams, a dang good cook? Maybe you never even had a Peggy but as you assessed your 5 you saw the need for a little diversity. Make a separate list that includes each person, persona, or characteristic you’d like to see in your 5.
- How do I fill in the 5? (This is the part where you get creative.) Your 5 people don’t have to be people you actually know or ever meet in your life. Honestly they don’t really have to be people at all. This is an amazing time we live in right now. If you identify that you’re missing someone who inspires you to keep a clean house. Maybe your mom used to stop over from time to time and it motivated you to keep things tidy but since no one ever steps foot in the door things are looking a hot mess and it is not ok with you. Follow Martha Stewart on social. Turn on HGTV (or my personal favorite, the PBS Create channel) and allow that to be the background noise in your home rather than cartoons or 24 hour news. Did you used to get together with a friend who just seemed to have their head on straight? They had such organization and structure to their life all the while striving for more. Read Ray Dalio’s Principles or start listening to the Impact Theory podcast. Maybe none of these suggestions work for you, but you get the point. Fill your 5 with people, create a community, but if you can’t connect, or you know know anyone who loves gardening as much as you do (The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardeners podcast is great) fill that slot with the type of content that will meet that need for you. Start writing out your new 5!
- How can you spend more time with your new 5? Make time to call Peggy. Let the chat from the needy person at work serve as a reminder to reach out to the one you want to make more contact with. Listen to your new podcast on your commute (if you have one) or while you’re walking, doing the dishes, or brushing your teeth. Read a few pages of your new book each morning to start the day off on the right foot.
The way I see it, for many of us the slow down that comes with Covid 19 presents such an opportunity to slow down, reflect and be intentional about what tomorrow looks like. We have the ability to come out of this so strong. This isn’t everyone and I recognize that. If the least you get out of an exercise like this is to identify where you’d like to be and make one change, that’s a great step in the right direction.
Things I’m reminding myself of
There is not one darn thing wrong with your kids being in your 5. I for one could not count the times those little monsters have inspired me more than the highest paid motivational speaker. Seeing myself in their 5 also prompts me to be at my best. I’ll admit I really only want them to take up one slot in the group rather than the three they could inhabit but that is me. You do you.
It is not nice to should on yourself. The intent of this exercise is not to identify areas where you should improve. Key item is your own intentionality. What do you want? Where do you want to grow? What areas of life are you interested in increasing or decreasing? This is a personal priority exercise not a who to surround yourself with to be the perfect version of you exercise. Although, identifying your priorities and then intentionally setting up your 5 to support that… does sound like a pretty perfect version of you.