Don’t Rely on Willpower: Why Changing Your Environment Takes You Farther

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” 

~Jim Rohn~

        Willpower alone is not enough for us to change. I guarantee you that no matter what, your intention will not carry you through 100% of the time. This is nothing against any of us—or even a comment on how much drive a person has. It has much more to do with biology and the brain. If we have done something over and over again and again, we create that pattern in our brains. This means that even if you are very determined to do something differently, it can feel like the fight of your life to go against the way you’ve trained your brain.  If you’ve ever tried to change an ingrained routine or a habit, you might already know this from experience. In that moment, you will likely revert to your most common or comfortable response. This is even more common when under stress, since we tend to seek familiarity and comfort in moments of tension or pressure. 

        Instead of simply gathering up the will to do something, I would offer a different strategy: Change your environment. There are three main ways to do this, changing your location, changing the people you surround yourself with, or changing your routine. 

Change Your Location (x2)

        Changing your location does not mean you have to go drive out to the ocean or mountains to get work done; that could get expensive! Sometimes it’s as simple as moving from your home office to your dining room table, and shifting that energy. We might have to dig into our creativity since our options are a bit more limited in terms of going out. Changing location could also entail going for a drive and clearing your head so that you can come back and do what you need to with some more energy or clarity. 

        Another aspect of this is changing the feel of the places that you already work and rest. This also does not need to be expensive. Maybe you buy new throw pillows, put up some new decorations, or bring in some new colors to shift the vibe. Give an old room some new life and see how much better you feel about getting things done there. 

Change Your Routine 

        Consider shifting your routine and seeing what happens. If you’re a morning person, sometimes just getting up a half hour or hour earlier can give you a little more room in your day and create space. If you’re a night person but still need to start earlyish, consider going to bed just a little earlier to give you more rest, which helps everything run better. Also try time-blocking specific times to do things—using the pomodoro method or others, and actually setting a timer for those things. Sometimes we just need a fire lit under us to accomplish what we need to. If the time blocks you have aren’t working so well, think outside the box. When are you most energized? If you don’t have time in that time bracket, then how can you energize yourself outside of it? Do you need to take a brisk walk before you start working, or splash cold water on yourself? Do you need more light to stay alert? Think about who you are as a person and work with yourself, always being kind to your heart. 

Change the People You Surround Yourself With

        There are many quotes about choosing your company wisely for a reason. It really does affect everything; mindset, productivity, and even motivation. Cultivate a like-minded community, and even if you have limited time to interact, make sure that you are engaging with them. This can be through Facebook groups, video chats, or even over the phone. Surround yourself with people who hold similar values and priorities. It’s also vital that you have enough people in your life that disagree with you and challenge you respectfully, because if you only talk with people that agree with you, you’re missing a piece of the puzzle. 

        We have limited time and resources, so it’s important that we limit the people that we invest our time in, but invest in them fully. Intently listen, care, and engage. And take turns, so that both parties are heard, understood, and cared for. 

        Remember, no matter how stubborn you are, there are days your willpower will fail you, so keep putting routines, community, and atmospheres in your life that will keep you honest, inspire, and remind you of what you want to do. And if something is not working, change something in your environment. Chances are, that’ll help fix the problem. 

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