How to Change the Five People You Spend the Most Time With

Jake Parrish
4 min readJan 30, 2018
Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

It is a commonly held belief amongst successful people that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with.

After reading this for the hundrenth time in another article or book I finally sat back and thought if this was true for my circumstances.

I truly thought about it. Who are the five people I spend the most time with?

Within minutes I had the list of people. It is a lot easier to determine the people than I had imagined.

Okay now this may seem judgemental (and it is) but let us determine where these people are in life.

Are they following their passions?

Are they generally optimistic or pessimistic?

Do they help others?

Do they live a healthy lifestyle?

I wrote down these questions and a few more to gauge where my circle of people were realistically in life.

This is not meant to put anyone down but you have to be realistic with the mindset and choices of others in order to make the best decisions for yourself.

Now I answered the same questions for myself, as honestly as possible, and without much hesitation already knew the answers.

I was the same as the other five.

Now this is the hard part. How do you change the five people you spend the most time with?

I do not think this means that you get rid of the previous five all together. I will certainly always be friends with certain people, however I also know that spending less time with them will be best for my growth.

Therefore I plan to remain friends with certain people just spend less time together, if they are truly friends they will understand I am on a journey of self-improvement.

So I knew my friend circle had to change but next I had to figure out who the new one would be.

I did so with the following steps.

1. Jot down and articulate what I aspire to be.

If you do not have a clear vision of what you aspire to become you will never get there. Picture your future self and jot down what you see.

2. Find people that already embody this vision or are further along than I am.

I went on LinkedIn and typed in CEO and Cofounder in the search box to find every student on my campus that is running their own business.

3. Reach out to these people and provide value or approach with specific asks.

I next connected with these students on LinkedIn. I sent a following message along the lines of requesting to meet one day for lunch to ask specific questions about their business and ways that I could provide value. Now this may be easier in college because most college students are not getting requests to meet however I think that the same theory applies to meeting anyone you aspire to befriend. Make specific asks or provide value. Do not waste their time!

4. Follow through…

With the lunch or meeting and come prepared with specific questions but do not be afraid to let the conversation flow other places as well. Once again you simply want the other person to walk away from the meeting feeling like it was time well spent, either because they were provided value or because the questions were so useful that they feel like they truly helped someone out (which feels good).

5. Feel the conversation out but usually do not go for the ultimate ask on the first meeting.

Just like in dating you would not ask someone to marry you on the first date. The best relationships take time to grow and therefore should not be rushed.

6. Thank them

Profusely! Also send a follow up on something talked about during the conversation.

7. Ask for feedback on a current project you are working on.

Continue a dialogue on what you are both passionate about. Certainly if you aspire to be like this person than you share similar interests. It is not too hard to maintain a dialogue with someone on what they are passionate about.

8. Find a way to bring value to a project they are working on.

Does not have to be something extravagant but the smallest gesture that you are interested in what they are doing and would like to help resonates with people.

9. Develop Trust

Now you have the beginning of a friendship however to develop a lasting and special relationship with the person you will need to establish trust (the most important element of a relationship). This too comes with time however little things will lead to it faster. Such as always keeping your word, never wasting their time, and not being self-centered.

Ultimately changing the five people you spend the most time with to a group of people that are further along than you is not easy. After all, why would they bring someone into their circle that could bring them down? But ultimately I think it is possible if you have the right attitude and put yourself out there.

I am currently on the journey of transitioning my circle of friends however these steps have allowed me to meet several interesting people that I hope, with some further trust and relationship building, will bring out more of my potential.

This is what I have done however other possible methods to change your friend group is to:

  1. Attend Meetups
  2. Join Clubs
  3. Maintain Remote Friendships

I would love to hear any ideas you all have on making friends with people that you aspire towards.