You may have read or been told five times just this year that you’re the combination of the five people you spend the most time around. Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn famously stated this, and the concept has since been popularized throughout the self-help world.
Science and psychology have both supported and refuted the idea, but let’s play with another part of it for just a minute. Regardless of whether you become like the five people you choose to spend the most time, with one thing is clear: you are making a choice to spend your time with them.
Life is about choices. You can choose to get up on time or hit snooze each morning, you can choose to take a long or short shower, and you choose to give your work 100% or 60% of your effort on a given project or day. You also choose to have a drink with someone new or your best friend of 10 years. You can choose to go to the restaurant you know you and your partner both love or choose to try a new one down the street with mixed reviews.
What’s another thing that, at its core, is centered on choices? Self-care.
What if we got wild for a moment and thought about who and how we choose to spend our time with as a complete act of self-care?
Whether these people will “rub off” on you or not, you are still choosing to expel your energy on these fellow humans. That says something in itself.
Let’s break down that choice a bit more to let it sink in.
We each have 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. Take out 58 for sleeping and your balance is at 110. Take out another 40 work for and you’re at 70. 70 hours a week, or 10 hours a day to do everything from taking that long or short shower, to eating a meal, sipping coffee, drinking a glass of wine, reading, writing, playng with your children, watching Netflix, hitting up a new brunch spot, creating and messaging potential connections on dating sites, heading to the airport and hopping a flight.
But what about those less than exciting or relaxing activities we have to do, like rushing to get ready, commuting, running around a grocery store without a shopping list, and transporting children to and from activities? If we carve out (a generously low number of) 15 hour a week on tasks we have to—but don’t love to—do, we’re left with 55 hours in the week for the rest.
How do you spend that time? Or, back to the crux of this idea, who do you spend that time with?
Regardless of whether we become like those 5, are we even aware that we’re choosing to spend so much of our 55 hours with these people so frequently?
We should be.
Who we expell our energy and time on is one of the biggest declarations we can make to ourselves of what matters to us. Think back to who you were spending much of your freetime with five years ago, or 10 years ago. What does that show you? What mattered to you then? What about now? How—and with whom—do you want to be spending your free time?
When we start viewing the selection of who we spend our time with as a form of self-care, something powerful happens. We become more deliberate with our choices and our time. Think about how you wish to be spending your free time, and then assess who makes the cut to join you! Whether you both rub off on each other or not, this is an act of self-care.
Jane Scudder is a certified leadership and personal development coach; she helps individuals and groups get unstuck. She builds and leads original workshops and training programs, consults with organizations of various sizes, and is Adjunct Faculty at Loyola University Chicago. Find out more at janescudder.com.