What you can do when the environment is not helping with your goals
Would you be surprised to learn that the idea for Aula.bg, the biggest online training platform in Bulgaria with hundreds of thousands of users, was born on the beach!
The story itself was about breaking off a limiting belief and some daydreaming followed by a systematic and focused work.
Today, however, we would like to emphasize the role the environment plays in our success.
Everything started with Ivan’s successful AutoCAD blog. With its popularity growing the requests for a full-blown online training started coming in. The idea took root in Ivan’s head.
But he had no clue how to go about it. It happened so that at the time he took a holiday trip to Egypt.
A very unusual vacation
Back then he hasn’t yet made it a rule not to bring any work while on vacation. So, he was sitting in the beach chair for hours on with his laptop researching. He learned about how to set up the whole system, how to advertise and promote it effectively.
The “light-bulb” moment
So, after a couple of days under the summer sun, Ivan came up with dozens of ideas and even outlined a strategy.
After the initial chaos in his head, things finally fell into their places and he ended up with a perfectly good action plan.
By the way, that wasn’t the only time things unfolded like that for him. There are many more stories and examples we can think of.
An interesting realization
Our most original ideas tend to stay away from us on a typical workday.
Have you ever wondered how an unorthodox notion can arise? Is it like Archimedes in the bathtub or maybe it is the shower for you? And how about a crazy idea which dawned on you while… skydiving?
In any way, it is a fact that creativity is unlocked by accident and in the most unexpected ways. It is as if our thought process goes on in the background even when we are not actively thinking about the problem.
And it seems there is no end to things we have to do
We are overwhelmed with work. There is always a long list of tasks and on top of that, there are all those emergencies that we have to deal with.
Eventually, you will get those few moments of reprieve so that you relax and recharge. That’s when new ideas and perspectives can easily come in this more open-minded state of yours.
The effect of the environment
Anything around us can greatly affect how we perform. The key is to be aware of this. There are two components here:
– The people we interact with;
– The physical factors we are exposed to.
Today we will focus on the latter.
When the environment is the problem
Let’s say you’ve already made your mind about a system for achieving goals and everything is set perfectly. You have the right attitude, clear vision, a good 90-day goal and the support of your Goal Buddy.
And yet, everything else is against you. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
The goal of losing weight
You are quite serious about improving your health and one objective is to start eating healthy.
At the same time, you keep at home a stash of candy and other goodies for the kids. And that’s quite a temptation, especially when you are tired and your will power is mostly spent after a long day at work.
Obviously, it’s you who undermines your own efforts. Is there a way out?
Throw away the cookie jar
For example, Niki’s wife always keeps a stash of Lindt and Fererro Rocher chocolates.
And the inevitable happens. Niki feels the sudden sugar craving even if he doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all. On a couple of occasions, the only way he could fight it off was by throwing in the trash all the candy.
An important realization
Like with any other problem the first step is to admit its existence.
There is no point to stop eating anything sweet at all. But it’s paramount to understand that the very presence of food and the easy access to it can trigger your natural reaction to it.
The different ways to change the environment
This is what Ivan recommends:
- Don’t buy sweets just for the sake of it.
- Make a rule that you can have anything with sugar only when at a restaurant. It’s called dessert.
- Look for alternatives such as fresh or dried fruits.
This same approach could be applied to fatty foods, bread or anything else for that matter.
The goal of reducing alcohol consumption
Even if you are not too tempted by having solitary drinks at home it is worth asking yourself why you would have a liquor cabinet in the living room.
Keeping your wine collection where it belongs – in the cellar!
Niki never had a drinking problem. He can appreciate a glass of fine wine in the company of friends though. Over the years he accumulated a rich and varied collection of wines from across the world. But he realized it is much wiser to keep the bottles in a cellar. In this way, he can not only control temperature and humidity but the temptation to “taste” too much or too often.
The solution was to make a small wine vault in the basement of his apartment block. Thus he can enjoy his hobby and ensure optimal temperature and humidity and at the same time he wouldn’t tempted daily.
The way we eat and drink isn’t the only activities to be affected by our environment.
The goal of boosting productivity
Let’s say that in your vision for personal development you’ve set a 90-day goal. You are also working towards building the habits that will increase your overall performance.
You get up in the morning fully determined to work on your goals. But then you reach for the phone and your focus is gone.
A difficult thought
You may think that you are not that kind of person. And that might be so but in that case, you are an exception.
The trend of mobile devices use is upwards. According to many surveys, nearly 80% of us check our messages first thing in the morning – even before we brush teeth. On average, we use it for around 3 hours throughout the day!
Apple addressed this issue by introducing its Screen Time app. It shows you the statistics about how much time you spent on the phone.
A digital enemy
The smartphone becomes an integral part of our environment. The list of the apps we need and use 24/7 is quite long indeed.
The important thing is that they greatly interfere with your focus and goals. What can you do?
We offer a few of those that we found to be effective.
- Leave the phone in the other room. This might be hard, as not everyone is ready for such “sacrifice”. If you’re not then keep reading further.
- Mute all alerts and reduce the phone’s sound. This works out well for Ivan and gives him hours of focus. He returns calls and checks emails whenever he chooses to.
- Chose a good place for focus and productivity. Niki decided on his office. He set up his phone that once it connects to the office Wi-Fi, all unnecessary notifications are turned off.
- Another option is to keep two phones. One just for calls and a smartphone for fun, pictures, etc.
- Remove all uncritical applications from your phone and install them on your computer.
Any of the above is worth trying so that you don’t have to subject yourself to the constant distractions of the modern connected life.
The goal of reigning in your spending
There is something that you might not even consider to be a factor when you work on your vision for financial independence.
It is a small piece of plastic that you keep in your wallet. Numerous research papers showed that when it is used as a paying method you end up spending up to 100% more compared to the cash transactions.
Why is that?
The reasons are many and mostly psychological rather than objective.
First, when paying with a credit card you don’t have the same feeling of a physical exchange as in the case with coins and banknotes.
Another difference is that the amount of actual money in your wallet is limiting you in how much you can buy. The card, on the other hand, gives you the sensation of greater purchasing power.
And some inevitable side effects
It’s easier to give in to the impulse to buy stuff when you can’t make realistic price vs value estimate. And that’s exactly the case when using your credit card.
Eventually, you end up owning way too many things that you don’t really need. There are many other hidden costs to that type of consumer “hoarding” which started with the quite innocent swipe of the card.
To change that we can suggest the following:
Put the credit card in a lockbox and throw the key away…
Just kidding, of course!
No need for such an extreme step. It will be good enough if you realize that the convenient payment method has its downsides and you should be wiser and minimize its use.
Niki’s family gave up credit cards a few years ago which had a major impact on their monthly budget and mortgage payments.
You can employ the following two rules to stop overusing your credit card:
- Do not use it for everyday purchases, but as an exception. For example, when you’re traveling abroad;
- Give yourself a couple of days of consideration when you do online shopping. That will ensure you need and want the item.
When nothing is standing on your way
So far we dealt with the environment which is hindering and sabotaging your efforts.
Fortunately, it is not always the case. And the good news is…
The circumstances can be beneficial, stimulating and empowering you.
And that’s so as long as you know what to do.
Improving the environment
For each vision, you can think of how to tune the circumstances with your goals. How about you set a 90-day goal for that purpose!
You can work in two directions:
- Consciously seek out the potential of any situation to get closer to your goals;
- Change the situation so that it becomes favorable.
Let’s have a look at these two with some examples.
How to work on your health goals
There are those mornings when you know it’s going to be a long day at work and the chance that you’ll make it to the gym is quite slim. But Niki figured it out. He does this one little commitment that turns the odds – he gets his gym bag ready and takes it to the car.
“Seek and you shall find”
When you are focused on finding new ways of achieving a goal you are always on the lookout for any opportunities that might come your way. That’s why Niki rarely fails to make it to the gym.
“I try to take command over the circumstances and in doing so I hope to take advantage of the slightest opportunity.”
In fact, it’s a very consequential habit of his. Even while driving he finds a way to make the traffic time worthwhile. When you are tuned into the wavelength of searching for new opportunities you end up reaching your objectives faster and with much more ease.
How to work on your goal for better productivity
Create your own focus oriented sanctuary.
Ivan arranged a special spot for his morning ritual – no phone or computer but just a notebook for writing down ideas and a meditation matt.
This simple and safe from distractions environment helps him get into a mode of focus and efficiency. That’s why he was able to outline all the lessons for the online GoalBuddy in just a few days. The room had a desk, a chair, and a laptop.
Don’t stop looking for all the help and assistance you can get
In life as in anything else, we need some support. Our system is based on it and your Buddy plays a central role here as well. It is especially true when the surroundings and their influence are such a tricky opponent. One shouldn’t be making the mistake to rely solely on their will power and focus.
Can you vouch for yourself 100% of times that you will resist the sugar urge? Or that you will ignore any alert on your smartphone? And how about the allure of the online “one-click” purchase?
After all, our ability to control ourselves has its limits. It must be applied sparingly and for the really important things.
It is entirely up to you how to handle the environment
Get rid of these obstacles and start shaping the circumstances in a way that it speeds you up instead of getting you bogged down.
Consider carefully what you can change right now. This could make for a perfect 90-day goal, right? We can promise you that the time invested will be more than worthwhile.