For better results, pick better surroundings

written by Philip Stefanov  |  DECEMBER 22, 2020

Our environment is a mighty force that drives our behaviors and habits much more than we think. When most people fail to make a lasting change, they often pin the blame on a lack of motivation, willpower, or discipline.

They start eating better but are unable to stick with it for longer than three weeks. The same goes for exercising, reading, stretching, meditating, or any other positive behavior you can think of. They quickly reason that it’s the lack of willpower that’s tripping them up.

And while I’m all for willpower, how we shape our environment often dictates how we act and what habits we adopt.

If you are new to fitness or want to get more serious and start making better progress, you need to take a look at your environment design and ask yourself, “Is my current environment a positive influence on my fitness goals or not?”

For example, you might have read about the importance of getting your 8 hours of sleep every night. But does your environment support that? Do you keep the TV out of your bedroom? Is your mattress nice and soft? How about the pillow? Is your room dark, quiet, and cool?

You see, how we shape the environment of our bedrooms can have a significant effect on our sleep quality and quantity.

How about your nutrition? If you want to lose some weight and become healthier, are you supporting the goal with the environment? Is your kitchen filled with whole, nutritious foods? Or are there sweets, sodas, and other trigger foods everywhere, just waiting for you to notice them?

With a bit of thought, you can design an environment that seemingly automates good behaviors while making bad ones more difficult to do.

For example, I’ve taken the TV out of my bedroom and instead keep a book on my nightstand. This makes the act of watching TV before bed much more difficult and the act of reading for half an hour much easier.

I’ve also placed a yoga matt on the floor which I use for meditation and stretching every morning. Again, environment design.

To ensure I eat mostly whole foods, I keep my kitchen filled with fruits, veggies, grains, meats, dairy, and nuts. I rarely have any junk food around. This makes the act of eating healthier easy. If I were to leave a bag of cookies on the kitchen table, I would be much more likely to snack on them instead of an apple or a kiwi.

You Can Do It, Too

Much like the subtle changes I made to my environment, you can also do the same and automate good behaviors. Want to read more? Put a book on your nightstand. Want to eat healthier? Fill your kitchen with nutritious foods. Want to exercise at home? Lay down a mat on the floor and put your exercise equipment in plain sight.

The goal is simple: make the favorable actions easy to do and the negative ones difficult.

If you want to hit the gym after work but always give up when you get home to grab your bag, eliminate that possibility. Take your gym bag to work and drive there straight from work.

Until next week,


P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about environment design, click here to read my article on the topic.


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