Ever tried to change your life just by willpower alone, without changing anything else in your life? My guess is that is wasn’t successful for long, at least not unless something else was also going on. A much better long term strategy is to find ways of making it easier to succeed than to fail.
Why doesn’t willpower work for long?
Resolutions based on willpower just set up an internal war between the part of you that wants to change, and the part that wants to stay doing things the old way…and inertia being the powerful force it is, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the status quo.
Path of least resistance
Like water flowing down a hillside, we tend to take the easy channel. This is why we get stuck, bouncing around and driven by external circumstances. This is why it is so hard to change just by ‘willing’ it to be so – we have a natural tendency to slip back into old (familiar, comfortable) habits, our personal paths of least resistance.
The paths of least resistance are determined by the underlying structures & environments in our lives. We have built these structures over many years (or fallen into others’ structures and made them ours as well) and often we are not even aware they are there. These environments, habits and belief systems come to run our lives, and any effort at change is largely doomed if we don’t take these systems into account.
The good news is that you can change the underlying structures, and hence change the path of least resistance.
If you change the structures, your life will start to flow naturally through the new channel, and you won’t need nearly as much effort and willpower to introduce and maintain changes. You will no longer be fighting yourself.
Do you believe that by changing your behaviour, you will automatically change the underlying environments and structures of your life? In fact, the reverse is true – to change behaviour, first change the structures (the channels through which your life flows) and your behaviour will change with much less effort.
So, why not set up your life so it’s as easy as possible to reach your goals? The way to do this is by using personal environments.
What are personal environments?
They are the physical, mental, emotional, relational, intellectual frameworks and structures through which we live our lives. Your home, your office, your friendships, your sense of wellbeing are all part of your personal environments. You can create systems around you that make it easier to achieve your dream e.g. writing a book than not achieving your dream.
Once you start to focus on this, it is amazing how many elements of your life you can control, how much you can change or modify to pull you towards your creative dream (or any other goals…). It’s a combo of bringing in all the things that support your goals (e.g. making a creativity space, and keeping butcher paper and textas handy) and removing all the things that don’t (clear out all the junk from the spare room so it can be your office/space). It doesn’t have to cost a lot – be creative!
I heard about a woman who started piano lessons at sixty-three. She plays music all the time, goes to concerts, put up posters of composers and performers, rented a piano for her living room, has oriented her time, focus and life as much as practical around her dream, so that in two years she has become very skilled in what was a life long dream. You can do it too.
You can do it too.
It’s not about being the most talented person or having 24 hours a day and a million dollars to devote to your dreams…it’s about choosing to live differently, one bit, one day, at a time. We create our lives in every minute, so why not choose to create the life you really want?
How can I change my personal environments?
Have a look at these – what are 5 ways you could enhance each of these parts of your life to help you reach your goals?
(home, office, possessions, clothes, lighting, sounds, air, visual stuff)
Environment Of The Self
(self care, body, food + drink, exercise, soul, nurture)
(friends, family, supporters, drainers)
(new ideas, concepts, mental stimulation)
(parks, hiking, ocean breezes, pot plants and flowers)
(values, energy, feelings)
(links, clients, web, colleagues, support)
(assets, debt, income, savings)
(space, outlets, activities)
So, how could you set up your life to get what you want?