Provision #108: Modify your Environment

LifeTrek Provision

We’re in the middle of a series of LifeTrek Provisions that focus on change. Most people want to change something about their life. Most people fail to make and/or to sustain those changes over time. Oprah Winfrey’s weight being a prominent case in point.

One reason people fail to change is that the change does not come from within. Even when it appears to come from within, it can still be coming from without. External pressures and ideas need to be carefully sorted out, and a clear focus needs to emerge, until we become mindful of our true self. Minding our bodies is one way to make progress in this quest.

Another reason people fail to change is that they do not have the reserves to make a change. The change process contains significant opportunities and risks. Without reserves to fall back upon, real or imagined, many people become paralyzed with fear. To make a change, many people need to start by mustering their financial, emotional, and human reserves.

Once these two conditions are met • once you have a clear vision and sufficient reserves for change • it’s time to get going. Wishing that something will change does not produce results. Making changes does. One change will often lead to another and modifying your environment is the simplest technique of all. It’s been proven to work effectively in one study after another.

  • Want to get a good night’s sleep? Rearrange the furniture in your bedroom.
  • Want to lose weight? Put a mirror on the door of your refrigerator.
  • Want to exercise? Put a bicycle by your doorway or buy a dog.
  • Want to be in a good mood when you get home from work? Put a relaxation tape in your car tape player, set to go on when you start the car.
  • Want to stop biting your fingernails? Put nail files everywhere.
  • Want to start flossing your teeth? Put a rubber band around your toothbrush and dental floss.
  • Want to develop better study habits? Set up a study area or home office with good lighting.
  • Want to save more or give more to charity? Put reminders on your calendar, coordinated with your payday, for the next 12 months.
  • Want to change jobs? Hang a bulletin board in your house for job notices, possibilities, and ideas.

You will be amazed at the effectiveness of this technique. Robert Epstein, a professor at United States International University in San Diego, notes that “the power of rearranging one’s space has been well demonstrated in studies since it was first reported in the 1960s.” “To change your self,” he concludes, “change your world.”

There are limitless ways to change your world and, of course, the changes need to be tailor made for you and your lifestyle. The key to this principle is to keep it simple and easy. Modify your environment in ways that do not require any effort or willpower. Just set it and be done with it. You shouldn’t have to think about this beyond the initial modification. It’s an environmental change that serves to remind, support, and challenge you to make other changes.

One might call this the back door approach to change. One change leads to another. Many people struggle with finding and sustaining the willpower for change. Modifying your environment is one way to deal with that problem. Environmental modifications serve as a constant source of inspiration, with little or no effort on your part.

Last year Bob lost 65 pounds and became a marathon runner. To sustain the change he’s posted two pictures by his computer: a rotund “before picture” and a thin “after picture.” The after picture, taken at the finish line of the Columbus marathon, serves to remind him of both weight loss and running.

Environmental changes are the easiest changes to make. In a flash of inspiration, you can usually figure out and make an appropriate change to your setting in life. Do it once and reap the benefits ever after.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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