We all know making changes and forming new habits is hard, but they don’t have to be as hard as we think. You are more aware of your surroundings than you realize, and your environment can work for or against you on these big lifestyle changes.
What does your environment have to do with anything?
When we are making a change to our lifestyle we are disrupting our own homeostasis (the act of staying roughly the same), we are throwing off our own grooves. While lifestyle changes can be positive or negative our environment can work against us just the same. If you are trying to make a positive change, like going to the gym, your environment will hold you back. Maybe you wake up at 5:00am to get to the gym at 6:00am. You walk out into your kitchen, make a coffee, grab a protein shake, sit on the couch and bam its now 8:00am and you have to scramble to get to work. What happened? Your environment got you. You had your coffee and protein shake and only intended to watch one YouTube video, or a bit of Netflix until you finished your coffee, or just a few minutes of video games, but your environment got the best of you. Take another example, you are ready to take your fitness seriously and you are swearing off regularly eating sweets or processed foods. Well, the first time you are short on time and have to clean and chop fresh produce and cook a raw protein source you are reaching into the cupboards, refrigerator, or freezer for something in a box or wrapper, that is microwaveable. Luckily for us you can control your environment to help prevent this self-sabotage.
What can we do to control our environment?
A few simple things we can do to set ourselves up for success is…
1) Lay out your gym clothes and gear the day/night before a morning workout. If your first stop in the morning is coffee, and the second is the couch, put the gym bag on the sofa. It will stare at you as you drink your coffee and remind you that you decided you were going to do this!
2) Put your TV remotes, game system pads, and tablets away in drawers or hard to access places when you are done with them so you don’t fall victim to “just one YouTube video” before the gym.
3) Set up your “morning routine” the night before if you are doing an early workout. That way even if you are tired you have no choice but to go through with your plan because everything is out in the open for you.
4) Remove undesired food items from your kitchen, or just make them hard to get to and completely our of sight.
5) Prepare produce in bulk for “grab-and-go” ease to help keep you on track.
6) Always make an extra serving or two at meals and set them up for “grab-and-go” ease to help keep you on track.
What it all boils down to is making it so your environment doesn’t give you an excuse not to do what you want. We are more aware of our environment than we think. We get psychological cues from everything that can affect our behaviors and motivations. Marketers and designers know this. It’s why restaurants have that “ambiance,” and they use the place settings that they do. It cues us to relax and eat what’s in front of us, and hopefully order more courses and/or drinks. Well, you need to set up your environment in much the same way to cue yourself to pursue your goal.