If we're one of the 406 million Spotify users, we'll be familiar with the phenomenon that is our annual "Wrapped" playlist. For those who aren't, this playlist essentially compiles our most played songs from that year. Listening to it can be an enlightening experience.
While we still probably view 98% of the tunes as absolute bangers, there's often a rogue 2% that elicits a raised eyebrow. And a questioning of our past selves' judgement.
We can think of our social circle in much the same way: significantly influencing the vibe of our days (therefore lives) and benefitting from the occasional reevaluation.
A is for Awareness
We don't tend to think about our social circle — or its impact — until someone throws out a Jim Rohn-esque comment. "Humans are the average of the five people they spend the most time with" graces many an Instagram feed. Yet, it's an element of our life worth bringing awareness to. Rohn's statement has some serious science behind it.
Research has shown that the quality of our relationships considerably informs the quality of our lives. Further, large-scale studies suggest strong social ties are a key component to increasing longevity.
At the everyday level, we've all no doubt experienced the subtle power those around us have. Our mood is raised when we work with optimistic colleagues. Healthy habits are easier to stick to when our friends do the same. We perceive the world through a growth mindset if our parents did too.
If we're even somewhat interested in improving both the length and depth of life, awareness of our social circle is critical.
A is (also) for Assessment
In a similar vein to periodically evaluating our content diet, it's worth assessing our circle from time to time too.
To do so, we simply make a list of the five to ten people we spend the most time with. Think family, friends, our partner, co-workers, actor peers, teachers, and mentors.
When done honestly, this in and of itself can be illuminating — we often spend more time with our colleagues than our friends, for example.
Once we have this list in front of us, we can view our circle more objectively. How do these individuals make us feel? Do they contribute to our wellbeing? Are they encouraging us to realise our highest potential? If they were our Spotify Wrapped playlist, would we proudly pump up the jams?
Song pon de replay
Here's where we tap into our inner DJ (don't deny it, we all have one).
After examining our list, we'll have a sense of whether or not adjustments need to be made. If we're genuinely vibing with our people playlist, we may want to leave it as is for now. Alternatively, we may desire to make our mix even better.
If we'd like to make some improvements, it's crucial to note we aren't talking about cutting people out entirely. Of course, there are exceptional circumstances in which we may need to do so, but this will be the exception, not the rule.
Instead, we can think of each of these individuals as volume dials: some we'll want to turn up, some we'll want to turn down. If we find someone has snuck into our top five when they'd be better placed in our top 50, we make that tweak. They can remain a valued input without having to be one of the loudest.
On the other hand, there may be individuals whose volume we want to turn up. Those in our metaphorical top 50 who we'd really like in our top five.
What's awesome about today's world is our exposure to countless inspiring humans we wouldn't otherwise have access to. While the research recommends at least two of our five are "in-person" connections, the remaining three can be made up with teachers/mentors from books, podcasts, social media etc. And this can be game-changing — even when done temporarily.
Say there's a certain trait we'd like to cultivate. Who, in our opinion, best models this? Can we immerse ourselves in their biographies, interviews, social feeds etc. for a short but concentrated period? Or perhaps there's a particular skill set we'd like to acquire. Who do we view as the best of the best in this arena? Can we conduct a similar deep dive to inch ourselves closer to the standard they set?
Like curating the perfect playlist, DJ-ing our social circle is a fine craft. One that needs to evolve with us as we continue our journey. But like meticulous playlist curation, it's an investment that invariably pays off.
Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.