We rely on willpower to create change in our lives…but what if we’re thinking about it all wrong? In Willpower Doesn’t Work, Benjamin Hardy explains that willpower is nothing more than a deterrent that is bound to fail. Instead of “white-knuckling” your way to change, you need to instead alter your surroundings to support your goals.
The willpower approach fails because it doesn’t focus on changing the environment. Instead willpower focuses on increasing personal efforts to overcome the current environment. What ends up happening? Eventually you succumb to your environment despite your greatest efforts to resist.
Let’s say you want to lose weight. Your morning skinny latte has brought you into a coffee shop. That chocolate chip muffin in the bakery case is calling your name. Your mouth waters, the smell of baked goods entices you and, in your head, you have a berating, ugly conversation about how weak you are. Oh, well. You buy the muffin, mentally kicking yourself for the rest of the day.
The point here is the environment is more powerful than your internal resolve. As a human-being, you always take on the form of the environments you place yourself. It is human nature to adapt to the environment. This ability has helped us survive for tens of thousands of years.
Consequently, the best use of your choices is consciously designing environments that facilitate your commitments. And, actually, if you’re really committed to something, this is exactly what you’ll do.
Back to wanting to drop a few pounds. Decide that you are truly done with carrying the extra weight. Commit to being more healthy. Then, create an environment where you will succeed. If you want that skinny latte, use drive-through. Exercise with people committed to fitness. Visit the salad bar with a fellow health nut. Seek out those who already are living the healthy life you want.
In the same way, if you want to become an more impactful and respected leader on your team, you need to surround yourself with mentor(s) who have already led in ways you admire. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Make sure your “five people” demonstrate qualities you revere and want more of in your own behavior.
Orient your environment to become a leader people respect. Your environment will mold you into the person you want to become. Therefore it follows that if you are working in a negative, toxic environment, be aware of how that impacts you. Noticing the impact on your wellbeing is the first step to deciding if you want to make a change.
We adapt and evolve based on the environments we select. You are who you are because of your environment. Therefore, if your work environment is not supporting you to become who and what you desire, it is time to notice this and evaluate your choices.
Want to change? Then change your environment. Stop thinking you have no willpower and focus instead on how you can create an environment where you can thrive.
ACTION STEP: How does your work environment impact you? Let’s consider ways to improve it. Schedule free consult here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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