Look around you. Is the room you are in, the objects within it, the temperature, the people, making you a better person? If not, don’t waste energy on trying to change yourself and fighting against the current. Simply change the room and you’ll find yourself changing accordingly.
Imagine that you are in the same room as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
It could be just you and him or a group of people as well. Now imagine you are in the most well-equipped gym on the planet.
How do you think you are going to conduct yourself in this environment. Do you think you will slack off in your workout? Probably not.
Rising to the occasion and pushing our limits in this kind of environment is not something we would have to force ourselves to do. The urge would be natural, flowing from within, but motivated by the environment.
Come up with your own extreme example. Think of the top-ranked people in your field of work. Picture them all in the same room with the best equipment money can buy. If you were in the room with these people do you think you would just go about your normal routine? How can you, knowing the best of the best is working around you?
Now picture the opposite. The worst of the worst is working around you and the equipment keeps failing. You have to restart your computer over and over again. The L button on the keyboard sticks, and Susan, the new girl, won’t stop accidentally tipping over the water cooler when she comes around the corner.
Many of us like to hope that in this environment we would shine, be a beacon of hope to the otherwise distraught bosses amidst a subpar workforce.
But in most cases the opposite would happen. You would lower your standards and sink to join the ranks of the others, maybe doing enough to stay above water, but never really improving.
What these extreme examples show is the power of our environment, no matter what we are involved in.
Whether it’s the office, the gym, or the classroom, even if we happen to be average compared to the room, a room with experts will make us a better average.
The Small Things
It’s more than people that make up an environment, though. Everyday small things around us can trip us up without us even realizing it.
Maybe some simple aspect of moving the printer to a closer location can have positive side effects such as people being more friendly when asked to make copies.
Better room efficiency breeds better habits over time.
Take this to heart at home too.
Would moving the trashcan from one part of the room to the other keep you from leaving your candy bar wrappers on the kitchen table? There is a good chance it will.
Break Habits, Not Willpower
Breaking out of a bad habit by sheer force of willpower is not only difficult, but may be impossible.
While willpower is something we can train, it only has the potential for a tiny amount of improvement. Changing everything about ourselves while still in the same environment will only ensure habits do not get cemented.
Your environment, though, can be changed with a lot less effort. If you are disorganized, keep a planner close by just in case. Make use of apps that are set to notify you of certain things at certain times.
If you are on a diet, get rid of the junk food in the house. Don’t even go down the aisle when you are at the store.
When it comes to people, change can be tougher, but don’t associate with those that would put a burden upon you.
Keep your willpower available for the tough work you do everyday and change your environment to break your habits.
Over time, your conduct will match the environment, improving your ability to improve whatever it is you are doing.
For so long, I have tried forging myself into a great-habit-machine by forcing myself to act even if the outside environment works against me. While improvement can be made in this way, it is extremely tiresome, draining energy which may be used for more important projects, like keeping your job.
Changing your environment is a much better approach. A great environment forces you to adapt in a good way, which doesn’t strain your ability to refrain from bad activities. You are changing the way you act, but you don’t feel so taxed doing so.
Over time, this builds upon itself and you find that you have cultivated sound habits that follow you no matter what environment you are in.