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

“You are the average of the five places you spend the most TIME.” – Noah Kagan

Our environment plays a larger role in shaping our future than intelligence, talent, skills, or opportunity. Where we spend our time, and who we spend it with, has a tremendous influence on who we become.

When we change our environment to be more in line with our dreams and goals, magic happens. It’s one of the most powerful life-hacks there is. According to Scott Dinsmore, founder of Live Your Legend, “Environment. Is. Everything. The fastest way to do the things you don’t think can be done, is to hang around people already doing them.”

Want to get in shape? Hang around people who work out and eat right. Want to start a business? Talk to people who’ve done it successfully. Want to learn how to surf? You need to be where the waves are. Want to live a happy, successful life? Surround yourself with happy, successful people.

Average Up

If we are the average of our environments, then it pays to average up.

Imagine that rubber bands connect you to the people who you spend the most time with. Now think about the type of person you want to be. Are those people closer to, or further from, that ideal version of yourself? In which direction are the bands pulling?

What Does Your Top 5 Look Like?

Start by bringing awareness to where your time goes. “Evaluate where you spend your time and how it improves your life (or not),” suggests Noah Kagan, an early employee of Facebook and Mint, and founder of AppSumo. If it has a positive impact, then, “do it more often. If it doesn’t, then change it.”

Consider the following questions:

  • Where do you spend the most time, on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
  • Who do you spend the most time with, on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
  • What qualities do those people have? Are those the qualities that you want to have as well?
  • What people make you feel most inspired, alive, and happy when you are around them?
  • What people live the kind of life that you want to lead?
  • What actions can you take today to start spending more time with the people who make your life better?

An Alternative Interpretation

Confession – when I first heard Jim Rohn’s famous quote, it didn’t resonate that deeply. I did a back of the envelope calculation and promptly decided that no, I was not, in fact, the average of the five people I spent the most time with. But – after hearing an alternative interpretation of the idea,1 I appreciate it in a the broader perspective. Here’s what I consider to be my top five:

  • Kristen. She’s awesome and makes me a WAY better person than I would be otherwise.
  • The highest version of myself. We hang out to journal and reflect.
  • History’s great teachers and humanity’s collective wisdom. Lots of reading and online courses.
  • That universal power that makes my heart beat and plants grow. Whatever you want to call it, I try to plug in and connect to life through both movement and stillness.
  • Friends and family. With whom I am blessed to share so many amazing experiences.

“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

  1. Inspired by Brian Johnson and Noah Kagan []