Have you ever noticed how you pick up traits from your partner or best friend?
Or how some people lift you up when you spend time with them—and others drag you down?
We truly are who we surround ourselves with.
Research on this topic shows just how powerful this idea is:
- People with a divorced friend are 147% more likely to become divorced. (source)
- People have a 57% greater chance of becoming obese when a friend becomes obese. (source)
- And people are more likely to quit smoking, exercise and lose weight if their partner does the same. (source)
So, who do you have in your life? Are you spending the majority of your time with people who support you, make you smile and give you energy?
Or are you spending most of your time with people who bring you down with their constant complaining?
This isn’t to say that you should kick people to the curb who don’t share the same goals as you.
But it’s important to take an inventory of your social circle every now and then to make sure you’re spending the majority of your time with people who are support you, inspire you and make you feel good.
Here’s a few steps to follow:
1. Make a list of the people you spend most of your time with.
2. For each person on that list, write down why they are in your life.
Is it because of proximity? This could be your next door neighbor, the parents at your kids’ school or a friend of a friend.
Is it because of work? This could be colleagues, bosses, clients or customers.
Is it because of common interests and goals? Think: Your yoga buddy, book club circle, networking group or mastermind group.
Is it because they are a lifelong, ride-or-die friend? These could be the friends you’ve had for decades, or a new friend who you love spending time with and has your back no matter what.
It it because you admire and look up to them? This could be a mentor, life coach or inspiring friend.
If you’re spending most of your time with people just because of proximity or work, you may want to think about how you can restructure your calendar to see more of your true friends and mentors.
3. Now, think about how you feel about each person.
Do you laugh and smile when you’re around them?
Do you look forward to spending time with them?
Do you walk away from conversations with them feeling heard and supported?
Do you feel motivated and inspired when you’re with them?
Do you feel like your most authentic, true self when you’re with them?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” these are the people who should be in your core group, the people who you support and show up for no matter what. These are the people who are in your “lifeboat.”
If the answer to these questions is “no,” consider spending less time with these people so you can focus more of your energy on your friends who really fill you up.
If you have someone in your life who is toxic, you may need to take a one to two-month vacation from them, or cut them out completely. It may sound drastic, but sometimes it’s necessary when people are causing us pain or damaging our spirit.
If you have a toxic person who you need to see on a regular basis, just limit your relationship with that person. For example, if it’s a toxic coworker, just keep your relationship professional. If it’s the mom of your daughter’s best friend, be kind and considerate, but don’t feel like you need to invite her over for dinner regularly.
4. Next, add anyone to your core group list who you want to reconnect with.
This could be old friends that you’ve lost touch with, a best friend who lives far away, or someone who you just haven’t seen in a while because you have different social circles and schedules.
5. Commit to nurturing your relationships with your core group.
Whoever is in your core group, you need to make sure that you are there for them no matter what, and that you continue to be an awesome friend, mentor, partner or sister.
Here are some ideas for nurturing your core group:
- Call or text them on a weekly or monthly basis to see how they’re doing.
- If they’re local, meet them in person on a regular basis. If it’s a close friend, do something fun like go to dinner, a movie or a dance class. If it’s a mentor, do lunch regularly.
- If you’re long distance friends, do regular FaceTime, Skype or Zoom calls. It’s not a substitute for being in person (you can’t hug through the computer!) but it’s much better and more intimate than texting!
- Send birthday cards or “just for fun” cards. If you have a friend who is going through a tough time, a “thinking of you” note in the mail can make all the difference. Since most people just text or email these days, a handwritten card or note means a lot!
- Keep pictures of your core group in your house. Seeing the faces of the people who are important to you on a daily basis will make you feel good, and it will also serve as a reminder to keep in touch.
You will connect with some people in your core group weekly or monthly, and others you may only talk to a few times a year. That’s okay! Just do what works best for you and your relationship, but be consistent and be present when you do connect.
If your core group feels small, take steps to meet new people who share your interests, goals and values. Join (or start!) a group, ask an acquaintance out for lunch and be open to new opportunities.
Also keep in mind that we can be influenced and inspired by people who we have never met. Read biographies of people who inspire you, put pictures of them on your Pinterest board and keep a carefully curated social media feed. The more you seek out these positive role models in your life, the more positivity and inspiration you will attract!
Now I want to hear from you: How do you build and nurture your community? What’s your favorite way to connect with people close to you? I love hearing your ideas!
Now go out and call someone who is important to you, or get a lunch or girls’ night on the calendar! 🙂