Thursday, July 7, 2016
Do you like this story?
What does it take to work towards a goal? Is it about being driven and motivated? Having a weekly plan that outlines what tasks you should follow? Or maybe there’s another piece to the puzzle.
You see, we like to think we have control over what we do. That if we set our minds to accomplishing a task, we can get to where we want to go. The truth is, our minds are easily swayed by outside forces. Like it or not, we are products of our environment.
Your Environment Influences You
Every day, we face tons of options. They bombard us, from when to get out of bed to what we should do next. Some of these choices are tough. Others require patience and dedication. Of course, there are also the tempting choices that we try to resist. They can creep up on us when we don’t realize it. By the time we do, it’s too late. But like any other cautionary tale, we end up falling prey to certain choices because of the environmental cues around us. So even if you set out to complete a task with the best of intentions, it’s no use if your environment dictates otherwise. It’s in our nature to get distracted easily. We look around ourselves, at other people, objects, and the way our environment is set up to determine how we should act.
We practice certain actions over and over, such as brushing our teeth and locking the front door. To do something out of the ordinary or expend additional effort without an immediate benefit takes up a lot of our willpower. There is only so much we can handle before our mental energy runs out. So most of the time, we tend to choose the path of least resistance.
That is, we like to look for shortcuts to save time and effort. And if something we want to do is out of reach, we’ll probably just put it aside and do something that’s more convenient for the time being (especially if that task is challenging and requires a lot of effort).
Design Your Surroundings To Make Good Choices
We often think that achieving a task is just about getting out there and doing it. We believe that if there’s a will, we can find a way towards a goal. But our environment dictates what we choose to do, as opposed to what we want to do. If you have choices around you that are distracting or lead to undesirable outcomes, then it becomes harder to make the right choices.
On the flip side, having an environment that strictly offers you productive choices allows you to only do what’s best for yourself. So if you want to work on improving your habits, take a look around you and see how you can make it more convenient to do so.
You can use environmental cues to work towards an outcome faster and easier. This can be applied in different aspects of life:
- To get work done, minimize distractions that take away from your focus.
- If you want to eat better, put healthier foods and water within close reach.
- When you try to persuade someone to perform a task, explain and set it up so that it’s convenient for the person to do so.
Wanting something done is not enough. If you want a certain outcome, you need an environment that gets you closer towards it.
Changing Yourself Begins With Changing Your Environment
Making changes to your environment makes it easier to do what’s right without having to think about staying motivated. If you can set up your surroundings to make better decisions easier, then you can set yourself up to practice better habits.
Often, we think that change comes from within. We believe that achieving a goal is about changing ourselves and what we think. But we discount the fact that optimizing our environment to make better choices significantly impacts our actions.
The changes we make may seem small initially. For instance, it might not seem like much to move a book you want to read from the shelf to your desk. However, when you make incremental improvements to your environment, it becomes much easier to do what’s right. In the long run, these changes can have a profound effect on the goals you can achieve.