Willpower helps you get started but it’s limited in keeping you going in the long term. By its design, willpower is limited and eaten away bit-by-bit by the daily stresses and the demands of life. As willpower loses its power to propel you forward you end up falling short just when you need it the most.
To avoid this, you need low investment/high return strategies to conserve willpower that carry you towards your goals.
To help, there are 3 easy methods that “put the wind at your back” that take little effort to set up but proven to keep you going in the direction of your goals.
Creating your environment can make the difference between taking the stairs or riding the escalator to your destination.
Studies have shown that your environment has as much to do with influencing your behavior as your conscious decisions. Even more, how you structure your environment will either impede your progress or keep you inching forward automatically.
For example, drinking more water, as a goal, is made more consistent by simply putting water bottles on the front of your refrigerator shelves and putting food and other beverages on the back of them. The simple act of creating more effort to reach for the back shelf versus the water on the front shelf makes it easier for you to maintain the new behavior.
Designing your rooms with bright colors instead of neutral colors can create a greater sense of positive well-being; putting your workout clothes out the night before makes them easier to put on and get to the gym; placing a pen and paper on your desk each day makes it easier to maintain a set writing schedule. Anything you can do to elevate or remove barriers to your new behavior will make following through easier for you to create consistent behaviors in line with your goals.
Most individuals go through their day on auto-pilot as they follow the path of least resistance. This explains why you see people put on the same clothes after work day-after-day, cook the same food the same way, get up in the morning to prepare for the day the same way, watch the same movies, and more. Following the same routine is habitual and satisfies your need for certainty in an uncertain world. It gives you a sense of “control” as your habits burn little energy since they are optimized by the routines you follow.
However, you can create better habits that take you in the direction of your goals by designing better routines.
Begin by taking small steps to follow a series of daily consistent actions to support your long-term growth.
For example, if you’re trying to drink more water, then set a routine to drink a glass upon waking up then adding a glass before meals then after meals. One event triggers the other and becomes part of your daily routine. You can do the same thing with exercise where you lay out your clothes in a spot, then at the set time you get dressed and go to the gym. It seems simple, but you don’t burn energy thinking about what to wear as your about to go exercise because you’ve already done it beforehand. In one seamless transition, from laying your clothes out, you’ve eliminated the need to think about it and just move into action.
Start thinking about how you can prepare to make each action of your routine frictionless, where there is no unnecessary energy needed to move from motion to motion. Eventually, the routine creates better habits which strengthens the desired behavior.
Mirror neurons are hardwired into your DNA and are responsible for helping you learn how to survive and thrive in your early environment. They help you look out at the world to the people are around you (i.e. parents) and mirror back expressions of happiness, joy, fear, anger, and teach you how to copy a kaleidoscope of situations. They are always collecting data on your environment and social group to help you mirror back what you see and adjust in your group.
This is important because the group of people you spend the bulk of your time with are likely to be the average of your career type, physical fitness, education, annual income, and the sum of your current life experiences. Because your hardwired with mirror neurons, the group you surround yourself with is also reflecting the group’s values back to you. While this provides you with a level of support and certainty, it fails to help you achieve greater things for yourself. Like the way gravity works in that you can escape its pull in the short-term but eventually it pulls you back to your level of comfort.
To grow, you need to start by looking for people who are achieving the type of success you desire for yourself. Then, spend as much time as you can with them and their group of friends. This can be uncomfortable at first but, over time, subtly, you’ll begin to adapt new behaviors and a bias towards a new set of actions to reach the success you aspire to.
Great achievements can take a lot of hard work but with the right methods you can reach your goals faster.
Spending as little as 15 minutes a week to think critically about your daily actions and how you enhance your efforts with these 3 tools is all it takes to see meaningful progress.
Commit to spending that time implementing these approaches to your daily life and you’ll find that you’ll make faster progress with less effort yet achieve more at the same time.