If you are serious about changing your life and you want to achieve great success in whatever you do, you must never neglect the invisible force that shapes your life – your environment.
When it comes to success, what we all think about most of the time are habits, hard work, talent, skills, mindset, characters, etc, but we seldom talk about the environment.
In fact, the environment you’re in plays a vital role in determining your success in life.
How Changing Your Environment Can Change Your Life
Take a look at the shapes of the continents in the world below:
What do you notice? For instance, the Americas and the Africas are stretched vertically. The continents’ shapes are thin and flat.
On the other hand, if you look at Asia and Europe, you will find that land mass tends to be more horizontal. The shape is wide and fat.
In his best-selling book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond mentioned that this is how the environment plays a role in determining your success in life.
When the agricultural revolution began, farmers had an easier time to plant crops along the east-west stretch of land than the north-south ones. This is because the weather and climate change are huge when you travel along the north-south.
This factor has allowed farmers to domesticate a few corps and mass-produced them. This is why Asia and Europe grew faster in population than in the Americas centuries ago.
Over centuries, this small difference in the environment has created a big impact on food production in Europe and Asia, allowing these countries to grow faster and develop new technologies and innovations.
The same can happen in your life. Your environment can play a crucial in shaping your life. But because the changes are too small to notice, you ignore them.
Until many years later, when the results are obvious, but it will be too late by then.
If you’re still not convinced that the environment can change your life, read this study from Anne Thorndike.
Environment Affects Your Decision Making
Thorndike is a physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and she did a study on how the environment can affect people’s eating behavior.
The experiment was carried out in a hospital cafeteria. Thorndike and her team wanted to help the people there to develop better and healthier eating habits without changing their motivation and willpower. So what they do next is that they alter the environment.
Thorndike called this experiment, “choice architecture”. She and her team changed how the food was displayed in the cafeteria. There were 3 main refrigerators that were filled with soda. They then add bottled water into the 3 refrigerators and also placed baskets of bottled waters throughout the cafeteria.
They tracked the result for 3 months. In the end, they discovered that the sales of soda dropped 11.4% and the sales of bottled water increased by 25.8%.
The conclusion is simple – when you change the environment, you change the way you make a decision, and hence, your life.
For example, if you place snacks on top of your kitchen table where they are convenient for you, you increase the chances of snacking.
When your phone is just right beside you and it is easy to reach, you are making it simple to check and play with your phones.
This is how your environment can shape your life, and determine your success too.
Redesign Your Environment
Therefore, if you are serious to achieve great success and accomplish your goals, you must leverage your environment.
You see, when we succeed in something, we seldom dedicate that it is because of the environment.
- When you get a raised, you think that you are talented.
- When you successfully lose weight, you think that you are determined.
- When you manage to consistently write a blog post each day and build a great blog, you think that it is your hard work.
On the contrary, when you fail, you don’t blame yourself but you put the fault at the environment.
- When you fail at your business, you say that it is because of the economy.
- When you become fat and unhealthy, you say that it is because of the food.
- When you are late for a meeting, you blame the traffic.
The point is that the environment does play a vital role in our everyday life. Environment drives your good behaviors and habits, as well as the bad ones.
Successful people are able to produce outstanding results in their lives because they make good use of their environment.
And this is why you must learn to redesign your environment so that it favors you.
You want to set yourself up for success. You don’t want your life to be negatively affected by your environment, which makes you develop bad behaviors that prevent you from succeeding in life.
So here are a few methods of how you can change your environment to help you reach your goals. Remember, your aim is to design an environment that supports you, no against you.
1. Make It Easy and Simple
First, you design your environment to make things easier for you. When something is simple and easy to do, your resistance to doing it will be greatly lowered. And this helps overcome procrastination.
For example, if you want to floss your teeth each morning, put the flossers next to your toothbrush. This way, you make it easier to floss. You don’t have to look for the flossers or take them from the drawer or cabinet. Less hurdle.
And in my case, I place the dumbbells on the floor in my living room. So whenever I’m free, I can reach out to them and do some weight liftings.
Previously, I kept the dumbbells in my room. Guess what, when I don’t see them, I forgot about them. And even when I want to lift weights, I feel lazy because I need to get them in my room.
So try to list down the steps that you need to perform to reach your goals, make them simple and easy.
When your action commitments are easy to carry out, you will more likely follow through your plan and stick to your goals and actually do it.
Ever wonder why weight-loss pills and instant coffee sell like hotcakes? Well, they are quick and easy to consume, that’s why people love them.
2. Make It Difficult and Complicated
Conversely, you can also make your behaviors difficult to perform by introducing more steps to them.
If you want to quit smoking, make it inconvenient for you to smoke. Keep your lighter away in a drawer in your room. Make it difficult to smoke.
If you want to watch less TV, take the batteries from the remote control and keep them away. This way, even when you want to watch it, you feel the hurdle and may say, “it’s too much work!”
If you want to spend less time on social media, simply delete the Apps from your phone. Else, just log out every time after you use them.
Add more steps and make the actions more difficult to perform. When things become difficult to do, the resistance is higher and you are more likely to procrastinate doing them.
3. Create Visual Cues
Designing your environment to favor you don’t have to be challenging. Here’s the next thing you can do – create visual cues.
Like flossing your teeth, when you see the flossers, you remind yourself to floss. And so make the actions that you want to perform visible to you.
For example, if you want to write and publish a blog post every day, create a visual cue using the Calendar Method. And whenever you see the calendar, you reminded yourself to write an article.
Brian Tracy said:
“You become what you think about most of the time.”
And he is absolutely right. Unless you have conditioned the thoughts you want into your subconscious mind, thoughts won’t appear in your mind randomly.
This is why visual cues are powerful. And this is why a vision board works too. If you want to learn more about creating a vision board, read my previous article:
Whatever that is out of your sight will be out of your mind. When you see your dream car on the road, you reminded yourself that you need to work hard to own the car too.
I learn a simple trick from Jack Canfield. Sir Canfield said that he used to write his goal on a small card and put the card in his wallet. Every time when he opened his wallet, he saw his goal written on the card. It sent a message to his mind of what he aimed to achieve in life.
You can do the same. Create a visual cue for your goal. Make the action that you want to perform highly visible to you so that you will never forget taking action on them.
4. The Location Hack
Here’s another way how you can design your environment to favor you. Make things easier to carry out by choosing the right location.
For example, if you want to exercise in the gym, just go to the gym between your work and your house.
You don’t want to choose a gym that is so far out and you need to jam in the traffic for an hour to reach. You will only make it difficult and that will lower your motivation to go to the gym.
Try to use an old and laggy phone or computer for work. Your stress level will increase. And you will find yourself procrastinate your work more than when the tools are smooth.
Do you get it? Use location hacks to make it easier for things to work out for you.
Don’t place your phone next to you. Put it somewhere else that you don’t see it and so it can’t distract your attention.
Make your blog your homepage on your internet browser. When you open the browser, your blog is the first thing you see. And it reminds you of your mission.
5. Improve the Physical Environment
Besides all the above, there is another important key to make your environment work for you, and that is to improve the overall physical environment.
If your chair is uncomfortable, you won’t sit for long and it can distract your focus while you work.
If your table is messy, your surrounding is noisy, the lighting in the room is dark, the temperature is too hot, etc, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
You don’t have to create a comfortable work environment so that you can work like a boss, but you do need to make sure that the environment is productive enough that it drives you to work.
Never ignore the fact that your environment is shaping your life. People who live in a better environment have a greater chance to perform better in life.
Hence, if you want to live a good life, be successful, achieve your goals, and more importantly, stick to your plans, learn to build positive environments that support you.
Use the techniques above to design an environment that will bring you success and encourage your positive habits.