The Importance of you Inner Circle
It isn’t novel to say that we are greatly affected, both positively and negatively, by the lifestyle choices, habits and even body compositions of those closest to us. You are the company you keep, after all. Author Jim Rohn claims that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” We are the sum of our sphere of influence; the people that make up our inner circle and, ultimately, help make or break our successes and failures.
Our sphere of influence also plays a vital role in determining our formation of what we consider to be socially normal around food and exercise. And our impression of these social norms influence our behavior when we are by ourselves — not just when we are with those in our inner circle. The habits and lifestyle choices we make independently are often an extension of those made by people in our inner-circle. For example, if eating a salad for lunch or exercising frequently are considered “normal behaviors” among your friends, you are more likely to eat a salad for lunch and partake in regular physical activity even when you are not around your friends. Suffice it to say that social psychologist, David McClelland was not being dramatic when he made this statement: “The people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”
As we kick off 2021, no matter what your goals are for the year, your sphere of influence is something worthy of being evaluated before resolving to “eat better” and “workout more”. First, think about WHO is a part of your immediate sphere of influence. Who are the 5 people in your inner circle; the 5 people you spend the most time with/have the most influence in your life? Got ‘em? Now ask yourself these 6 questions about each person:
Do they have a positive mindset?
Do their core values align with yours?
Do they support you with your goals?
Will they help keep you accountable?
Are they growth-driven?
Do they encourage you when you’re feeling down?
If someone on your list didn’t score at least 3/6 on this little quiz, you might need to re-evaluate their role in your inner circle. I realize that sometimes the composition of our inner-circle is beyond our control. Sometimes out significant others, family members or lifelong friends don’t fit the bill when it comes to being a positive influence. Obviously, that doesn’t mean we need to remove them from our inner-circle. But we can certainly work to improve the relationship and their role within the sphere of influence.
There are two key ways to do this:
Clearly communicate your goals to those in your inner-circle. Explain the WHY behind your goals, and tell them what it would mean for your life if you accomplished them! Then, ask for their support and accountability. If they don’t have plans to change their lifestyle, that’s ok, but ask them to encourage you in the changes you have decided to make. Making fun of someone for wanting to better their life is so 2020.
Be intentional about the amount and type of time you are spending with those who aren’t a positive influence. Instead of playing video games or going to happy hour, suggest alternative activities when spending time with them: go on walks, commit to a CrossFit class together, prep meals together, grab coffee. It’s far too easy to fall into former patterns of comfort if we don’t set boundaries and expectations, while also offering the alternative solutions that will help us achieve the goals we’ve communicated.
As we head into 2021, we challenge you: before you lock in notions and resolutions of a fitter, trimmer, healthier and all-around “better” you in the new year — look first at your inner circle. (And then get your goal-setting minds right.)