Motivation is Overvalued. Environment Often Matters More, by James Clear
Rich Hua stashed this in Productivity
There are many ways to design an environment that promotes success.
Here are three strategies:
First, automate good decisions. Whenever possible, design an environment that makes good decisions for you. For example, buying smaller plates can help you lose weight by deciding portion size for you. A study from Brian Wansink at Cornell University found that people eat 22 percent less food by switching from 12-inch dinner plates to 10-inch plates. Similarly, using software to block social media sites can help overcome procrastination by putting your willpower on autopilot.
Second, get in the flow. A few years ago, PetSmart changed their checkout process. After swiping their credit card, customers were shown a screen that asked if they wanted to donate to “help save homeless animals.” Through this single strategy, PetSmart Charities raised $40 million in a year.
You can apply a similar strategy by designing an environment where good habits “get in the flow” of your normal behaviors. For example, if you want to practice a musical instrument, you could place it in the middle of your living room. Similarly, you are more likely to go to the gym if it is literally on the way home from work than you are if the gym is only five minutes away, but in the opposite direction of your commute. Whenever possible, design your habits so they fit in the flow of your current patterns.
Third, subtract the negative influences. Ancient farmers didn’t have the opportunity to remove the barriers that held them back, but you do. For example, Japanese television manufacturers rearranged their workspaces to save time by eliminating unnecessary turning, bending, and swiveling. You can also reduce the negative influences in your environment. For example, you can make it easier to avoid unhealthy foods by storing them in less visible places. (Foods that are placed at eye level tend to be purchased and eaten more frequently.)
On the Luck of the Environment:
We are quick to blame our environment when things go poorly. If you lose a job, it’s because the economy sucks. If you lose a game, it’s because the officiating was bad. If you’re late to work, it’s because traffic was insane.
When we win, however, we ignore the environment completely. If you land a job, it’s because you were talented and likable. If you win a game, it’s because you played better. If you’re early for a meeting, it’s because you are organized and prompt.
It is important to remember that the environment drives our good behaviors as well as our bad ones. People who seem to stick to good habits with ease are often benefitting from an environment that makes those behaviors easier. Meanwhile, people who struggle to succeed could be fighting an uphill battle against their environment. What often looks like a lack of willpower is actually the result of a poor of environment.
Life is a game and if you want to guarantee better results over a sustained period of time, the best approach is to play the game in an environment that favors you. Winners often win because their environment makes winning easier.