“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.” —Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
For years I’ve lived in the same town in the same house. I’ve gone to the same church, had the same friends, and done the same things. Nothing much has changed in years.
Benjamin P. Hardy, author of Willpower Doesn’t Work, suggests that simply changing our environment will change who we are and how we accomplish things. Your environment consists of your everyday work setting (a classroom, a living room, a cubicle, etc.), the people you spend the most time with, where you live, and various other components.
“When you change your environment, such as surrounding yourself with different people, your thoughts and emotions change. These inner changes then alter your values and aspirations, which requires you to further alter your external environment. Thus, it is by tweaking your conditions that you proactively shape who you become.”
—Benjamin P. Hardy
When I first began reading this book I was in a place where I felt stuck. I felt that I had done all I could to achieve my dreams and I should just give them up; I realized that it was because I was doing the same things every day with the same people. My environment was the same as it always had been. It was something that made me feel safe.
But perhaps it’s the need for constant safety that prevents us from reaching out and doing things to accomplish our goals.
Hardy provides some practical ways to get “unstuck,” achieve our dreams and become the people we wish to be.
1. Be honest with yourself about who you are now and who you want to be.
2. Designate a sacred place — a place you can go to that is away from the business and the stress of life (the top of a hill, the park, your car, etc.).
3. Every single day, wake up and journal about everything you’re thinking, dreams you have, and goals you want to achieve.
4. Remove things or people in your life that conflict with your decisions. Get rid of the junk food. Move from the city to the country or vice versa. Let go of friendships that hinder growth and happiness. Turn your phone off at home so you can be present with family.
5. Create triggers to prevent yourself from sabotaging your decisions. In order to write my book, I need to write every day and get rid of distractions. So, to do that I have to create triggers before I begin writing. For example, I can tell myself, “If I am tempted to go on Facebook or Instagram while I’m writing, then I’ll get up and take a short walk.” This allows me to avoid the distraction, and instead creates a better option.
6. Create high standards for yourself. Invest in the project you want to complete. Spend money on a college or online course. Tell people of your plans so they’ll keep you accountable. If you place yourself in a situation where failing will put you in jeopardy, you’ll be more likely to succeed because you’re putting more into it than you previously were.
These are only some of what Hardy offers in his book. He writes of how we aren’t fixed beings. We are flexible, we are fluid. We can adapt to any environment we place ourselves in. There will be some discomfort, pain, and confusion, but it will be worth it in the end.
So, what does your environment look like? Is it one like mine, one you’ve been stuck in for years? Is it one that is pushing you toward success?
After taking in all that Hardy wrote, I began journaling as I woke up. I found that journaling released any thoughts that were keeping me from moving toward my dreams. Writing about my goals every day allowed me to focus on how I could achieve them throughout the day. Throughout the day, I found myself asking, “Is what I’m doing now moving me closer to my goals or further?” I became more aware of the impact of my actions, the people I was surrounding myself with and even the schedule of my day.
What are you doing most during the day?
My dream is to be a best-selling author someday. Sitting on the couch scrolling through social media isn’t going to help me get there. I have to put in the effort to write every single day, research, and observe.
I graduated college last year, but I knew if I wanted to write a book, I’d have to learn from people who have done that before. I applied to graduate school and am currently in the process of getting my Masters degree in Writing Arts. I’ve been learning from professors who have been published and who have worked in the editing and publishing industries. I’m investing in my dream and building relationships with mentors, with other authors. This is only the beginning for me, and it can be the beginning for you!
Invest in yourself and your dreams. Seek out people who are who you want to be. Change your environment and you’ll see how you begin to change.
“You can change. But you must change your environment. You must continually change your environment every time you’re ready to upgrade yourself, which I hope becomes a pattern throughout your life. Never stop evolving. Never stop being transformed through experience and relationships, whether that be with others or even with your higher power.” —Benjamin P. Hardy
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