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When Will Power is Not Enough

In my last post I mentioned an inspiring book I was reading. Yes, I am still reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. I love the book and highly recommend that you place it on your list of "books I want to read". I have greatly benefitted from studying his many practical and effective suggestions on how to build positive habits into the structure of your life.

Sometimes we grit our teeth and push forward in trying to change an undesirable habit or create a positive new one. We summon up our will power and use all the determination we can muster to try and make changes in our life. In Atomic Habits, James Clear proposes a much simpler course of action. "environment is the invisible hand that shapes behaviour", he tells us. Habits emerge out of the environment we find ourselves in.

Our vision is the most powerful sense through which we receive cues that influence our behaviour. We tend to mirror the norms of our social circles, our co-workers, family members or even the advertising we are exposed to on television.

Why not harness your visual cues in a way that motivate you to move forward in the direction that you want to go in? Why not be the ARCHITECT of your environment rather than the VICTIM of it?

The goal is to make the visual cues for your good habits highly visible and conversely, make the cues for your undesired behaviours as invisible as possible.

Allow me to give an example from my own life that demonstrates how I used my environment to create a new habit. Recently my optometrist diagnosed me with "dry eye syndrome". Her professional advice was to instill eye drops every morning and evening. My first thought was, "I'll never remember to do that on a regular basis!" Initially I doubted my ability to adopt this new regime into my daily life. Surely I didn't need one more step to add to my night time rituals. I decided to create a highly visible cue by leaving the eye drops prominently on my bedside table. Without fail, I now use the eyedrops every morning and evening. Creating the habit was almost effortless. I used my environment rather than relying on will power to motivate me.

What new behaviours or habits are you wanting to build into your life? Maybe it is an exercise program or a healthier diet. Perhaps you want to learn to think more positive thoughts or stop gossiping.

Rather than calling upon your will power and determination to help you do the right thing, why not redirect your energy into creating an environment that makes it easier to reach towards these positive goals. Sometimes will power just isn't enough to get you to where you want to go.

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