You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend Most of Your Time With

Jim Rohn, businessman and motivator, once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

It’s something that actually makes a lot of sense since those are the people who influence you the most.  It also might make you a little uncomfortable if your friends aren’t the most motivated people.

Most likely, you enjoy your time with your friends (they are your friends after all!) and wouldn’t want to think that they might be holding you back in some way.

However, not all friends help push you down the right track in life.  This isn’t because they’re bad people, but maybe they’re not motivated to do something great or take control of their finances and lives.  It’s time to determine if you should be spending more time with some other people.

You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend Most of Your Time With

I was listening to a BiggerPockets podcast recently with their guest Noah Kagan (founder of Sumo and AppSumo).  This was a little different from most of their other shows because Noah is more into running businesses than he is in being a landlord.  Regardless, the show proved to be very interesting.

My favorite part of the episode was when Josh (the founder of BiggerPockets) went off on a little bit of a rant.  Here are some cleaned-up excerpts:

The saying is “you are the product of the X people you surround yourself with” or whatever it is, but it’s absolutely true.

I mean, I’ve learned this from personal experience.  I remember when the people I spent time with were out drinking and hanging out and partying and I was like “oh, cool – this is life” and then I realized “wait a second – if I hang out with people who are out there who are making things happen – business owners, folks who are just motivated and looking to change the world, like, that was going to allow me to grow with them.”  And I completely experienced that myself […]

I’ve had over the past few years a few people that I love.  These people, ya know, my heart is with them, but their life, the stuff that they’re doing is just not in alignment with what I’m doing.

And so, I had to make difficult decisions and say “you know what?  I’m no longer going to spend the time and energy that I’ve been spending with these people.  I’m gonna now focus on people who are doing the kinds of things that I want to be doing.”

And that was very difficult because I only have so much time in my life.  When I made that decision, for weeks I perseverated it and was like “aw, I’m such a bad person – what am I doing?”  Ya know, this is how we grow up, but still… and I realized it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life.  Getting out there and spending time with those people who are making a difference, who have beliefs of where I want to be, allowed me to grow.

I actually loved this.  I think we all know at least a couple people who might fall into the group that Josh is referring to… people you love, but also who you know aren’t on the same page as you.  They might even be bringing you down in life.

So what does this mean?  Dump all your friends and get new ones?

Possibly.  If you’re hanging out with a lot of people who really are going nowhere with their lives, it might be time to consider that these people might be holding you back.

But for most of us, that’s not going to be the case.  A lot of us will find that our friends are not actually bad influences, but their goals might not be aligned with our own.

If that’s the case, getting rid of your friends might not be the best answer for you.  Instead, you might decide that it makes more sense to just include more people in your life whose goals do align with your own and give them a larger slice of your time.

You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend Most of Your Time With - PartnershipMaybe that would be a financial mentor or another kind of trusted adviser.  I’ve found that my financial mentors have greatly influenced the direction of my life in a positive way.  Spending time with others who have similar passions or goals as you do can help push you forward.

If you don’t know people in your personal or work life who could bring a more positive and beneficial atmosphere, you need to be more resourceful.  Meetups are a fantastic way to start bringing in some more influential people into your life.

For instance, if you’re hoping to build an income stream through real estate, take the time to go and introduce yourself to others at your local Real Estate Investors Association (REIA) meeting or other meetup.  Start to build relationships there.  Offer to buy someone lunch sometime to hear their story and seek out any tips or advice that could be helpful for you.

The important thing is to start surrounding yourself with smarter people.

I’ve found that another way to surround yourself with smarter people is to fill your “dead” time with some virtual friends.  And by that, I mean doing things like reading useful books, listening to educational podcasts, and subscribing to pertinent blogs – anything related to the direction you should be moving in your life.  Here are a few examples that I enjoy.

You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend Most of Your Time With - MoneyEnsure that these things have a focus on business, finances, real estate, or whatever passion you might have.  And let it fill up your time when you’re driving (not the reading part!), on the subway, on the treadmill, or wherever else you’re at where time can be otherwise wasted.

These tools don’t have to interfere with your everyday life, but rather should complement it.  You want them to help become an influence on the direction you’re headed.  I’ve learned so much (and continue to learn) from books, podcasts, and other blogs.

Then I learn even more afterward because I can have an intelligent conversation about what I’ve taken in when talking to my financial mentors about it later.

Being around smarter people helps not only make you more knowledgeable on various subjects, but it will motivate you to make the changes that matter.

If you’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with, don’t you want those people to matter?

It’s time to better yourself by surrounding yourself with smarter people.  Think about the people you spend the most time with and determine if you should be spending more time with others instead.


Would the average of the five people you spend the most time with be considered a positive or negative in helping you get to where you ought to be in life?


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

18 thoughts on “You’re the Average of the Five People You Spend Most of Your Time With”

  1. I’m not a big fan of this theory to be honest. You shouldn’t be choosing your friends based on their success. However I do like your twist. I do think it’s important to find good successful mentors and others for advice on moving forward successfully. To relate it to my situation I sometimes talk to my father in law about situations I encounter. He is a successful investor and thus can give some useful advice. However he has spent his entire career in acadameia, so his applicable career advice is non existent. I instead have others I consult around career moves. But like I started with, my friendships and time there are not based on what they can do for me. I have just as many friends I spend time with that are hourly workers living paycheck to paycheck. Different perspectives bring different value points.

    1. Thanks, FTF – I’m definitely not implying that you should choose your friends based on their success, unless they’re some real burnouts that are taking you down the wrong path. I think that’s smart that you’re leaning on the right people for each job when you need advice.

      But I am suggesting that a lot of people could benefit by realizing that the people they are spending the most time with might limiting their potential (without even really knowing it). So I wouldn’t suggest dumping friends to people, but I would suggest that folks spend more of their time with successful people (like your father-in-law). The more time spent with these kind of people will more than likely rub-off just because of the knowledge and understanding you start to gain from them.

      — Jim

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast, Jim and I’m really happy to hear that my take on things had some meaning for you. It isn’t easy to make decisions to drop people from your life or to seek out new networks, but I know it is worth it from first hand experience.

  3. Great article Jim, i completely believe in this as well. In my current case, with absolutely nothing against my friends, i feel that we have slightly different goals in life. I’ll definitely still keep in touch and hangout with them from time to time but I’m currently more interested in finding people who share a similar purpose to mine!

  4. I totally believe in this. I heard this saying years ago and it helped me think about what kind of friends I want to be surrounded with. And today, I have great friends that have become life-long friendships.

  5. I agree with you, Jim. Spend less time with those that drain you and more time with those that teach and inspire you. I would add that most of us could do better to surround ourselves with more positive, gracious, and supportive people too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Interesting thought. I took some time to think of the 5 people I spend most time with, and I think being the average of them puts me in a pretty good position fortunately.

    I don’t fully agree with the statement “It’s time to better yourself by surrounding yourself with smarter people”, but rather “people that you want to matter to you the most”. There will probably be a few people who are smarter than you, but there will definitely be people who might not be smarter, and that’s fine. You’ll be that “smarter person”, and help someone else improve, and I’m pretty sure in that process and relationship you’ll find ways to improve yourself too.

    That’s why mentor-mentee relationships are so valuable. You should be able to get something out of it regardless of whether you’re on the mentor end, or the mentee end!

    1. Great perspective! Having relationships made up of mentors and mentees would definitely help benefit all involved. I’ve actually noticed that in my own life as I’m continuing to grow and learn, I’m starting to help mentor a couple others as well.

      — Jim

  7. Generally I try to hang out with people who are more successful than I am or whom are just as hardworking/driven as I am.
    I like to learn from those who are better than me. Some people are put off/scared of people like that, but I’m genuinely interested in receiving useful advice and hearing interesting life/business stories.

    1. A lot of the most successful, but intimidating people tend to want to share what they’ve learned with those who are really interested (like yourself). Sometimes it’s just a matter of approaching and getting the conversation started.

      — Jim

  8. I loved that episode of Bigger Pockets! I had not considered the angle of adding new friends and not just abandoning the friends whose values are different from where I’d like to be. This angle had not occurred to me, thankfully, because my five people are really on great paths and have helped me see so much more.

    1. Love those BiggerPockets podcasts!

      Yeah, it’s one thing to start adding some new friends and mentors to help drive us toward our goals, but it’s a whole different ball game to drop friends out of the chute. Some people might be able to do that, but not everyone can or even should. I’ve noticed I just spend a smaller percentage of time with the friends who aren’t on the same path as I am and some more time with those who are.

      — Jim

  9. Great read. I’ve definitely heard variations of this concept before. Depending on your situation, it may be difficult to get away from folks who are not achieving. I think the takeaway is that it’s important to find and foster relationships that challenge you and help you grow.

    To someone else’s point that mentorship is at the heart of this concept… while it’s important to find a mentor, at some point, it’s important to be a mentor.

    1. It’s definitely true that it can be difficult to step out of the circle (or back a little) from the folks who might be holding you back in a way. But you’re right that if you can even just add on some relationships with others that can help you grow, you almost can’t help to improve your life in some ways.

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