How to Fire Friends or Family From Your Life (And Why You Should)

For most of us, lifestyle design allows us to spend more time with our friends and family. Most people on their deathbeds don’t wish they spent more time at the office. They wish they had spent more time with their loved ones.

Embracing a change in our lifestyles frees up that time to spend with friends or family.

How to Fire a Friend From Your Life

Unfortunately, however many family and friendship bonds that we wish to preserve, there are always one or two that we could do without. As painful as it may seem, these people must be cut from our lives.

These negative personalities tend to fall into the following 4 categories:

1. They do not want you to change.

This makes sense. After all, if they’re your friend or loved one today, it’s because they like the person you are today.

In their eyes, the changes you want to make in your life are strange and confusing. As you simplify your life, reflect on what is important to you, and begin to live your life with a renewed sense of purpose, their psychological barriers to change will be activated. They are afraid of the person you are becoming.

2. They hate your ideas.

These people are status quo defenders. They learned their lesson as a kid well: don’t stand out, don’t rock the boat.

They see nothing wrong with sitting chained to a desk ten or twelve hours a day, going deeper into debt to buy larger and larger houses that they fill with junk. Your agile lifestyle will challenge their beliefs.

Instead of using your example to reexamine their own lives, they will attack you. If they cannot see any way to opt out of the current system, they will try to ensure that you can’t either.

3. They are too afraid to change their own lives.

They agree with everything you say. They do see the neurosis that dominates everyday life. They would love to do what you are doing.

But hey, they have kids to feed, a mortgage to pay off, and a promotion in the works. Maybe they will do what you are doing when they retire forty or fifty years from now.

These people are dangerous because they can seduce you right back into your old, trapped lifestyle.

4. They want you to live the life they dreamed for you and will not take no for an answer.

You cannot tolerate these people. Period. Full stop. They’ve decided that their life plan for you is more important than your happiness or fulfillment. Get away from their influence. Fire them from your lives.

Unfortunately, this type of person is almost always very close to you, like a parent, your oldest friend, or your significant other.

How to Fire a Friend: The No-Drama Method

I bet you can think of a friend or family member who fits into the #2 description above and doesn’t add any value to your life.

Let’s call him Terry.

Terry scoffs at your desire to improve yourself and create an agile lifestyle. He doesn’t understand why you think about the future so much when you can live it up now. He believes the future will look a lot like the present, just with more junk for his amusement. He is snarky and mean-spirited, and while his shtick might have been funny in high school, now it comes off as bitter and cynical.

Terry cannot see a way out of the prison he made for himself, so he belittles your efforts to break free of yours.

Here’s how you deal with the Terry’s of the world:

Resolve to spend one hour less with this negative friend or family member this week.

If you would normally see him for a beer after work, cancel. You don’t have to confront Terry. You do not have to argue with him or her. Just make up an excuse and cancel.

You just freed yourself of an hour with that negative influence. Instead, spend that hour by going to the bookstore. Or the library. Or online.

Find a positive influencer, like Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau, or Everett Bogue. Listen to their audiotapes. Read one of their books. Watch one of their videos. Just for one hour.

Replace that one hour you would have spent in negativity and mediocrity with inspiration and insight.

How do you feel?

  • Would you consider permanently replacing this hour you’d normally spend with that negative friend or family member with this kind of activity?
  • What did you learn about yourself or this other person?
  • What would you do differently?

Then iterate. Gradually increase the amount of time you don’t spend with Terry by 30 minutes each week.

Pretty soon, Terry’s negative influence will be all but gone from your life.

With this method, you can replace the whole Herd of mediocre salary slaves you’ve built up around you with thought leaders, innovative entrepreneurs, and ultra-talented game-changers.

That’s how to fire a friend or family member.

Is Firing Your Friends and Family Really Necessary?

Agile living is about the freedom to change course quickly. Harmful emotional attachments can do as much to increase your Cost of Change as a mortgage or debt.

It’s fine to include people who disagree with you or challenge your thinking. Ultimately, you want to surround yourself with the people who love you even if they do not understand what you are up to.

But certain people will never allow you to change, even if the price of standing still is death.

Cut them from your life.


I experiment with posting on different days at different intervals and at different times. That can make it confusing to know when there’s a new post, I know! But I take my own advice seriously and try to experiment, learn, and iterate constantly.

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Image by Sudhamshu.

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