How to Design an Environment That Guarantees You’ll Succeed at Whatever You Do
From age 10–23, I was hopelessly addicted to pornography.
About a week before my 13th birthday, I remember making a solemn vow to myself:
No more porn.
I had been quietly addicted to it for about 2 years at that point. I desperately wanted to stop, but I didn’t have the slightest resistance. If the urge was there, I had to obey.
I promised myself I would stop at age 13 because I’d be a teenager by that point; a big life change meant I needed to shape up.
Of course, I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. I would vow to quit at many more milestones: getting my first serious girlfriend. When I graduated high school. When I joined a Christian organization in college and got baptized.
Looking back, a huge problem was obvious:
I was always operating in an environment that pretty much guaranteed I’d fail.
This is how most people operate when they “commit” to a new goal:
First, they bite off more than they can chew. Then, they miss a few days because the new habit is practically impossible to sustain. Finally, they give up hope and quit entirely.
Most people set themselves up for failure. Even the most motivated person couldn’t survive in that environment.
Sadly, the most well-intentioned people rarely ever take a look at the most important factor in behavioral change:
This is why 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail like, almost instantly. This is why most people who want to lose weight, spend less, and be a better person usually give up entirely after a month or two.
It’s not about effort. As a colleague of mine wisely said, “willpower doesn’t work.”
If you want to succeed at whatever you do, you need to start with creating an environment that makes it impossible not to succeed.
“If you want lasting change, you have to give up this idea of just trying something, and you have to commit yourself to mastery. Because your life is not controlled by what you do some of the time, but by what you do consistently.” -Tony Robbins
Creating a World-Class Environment Requires Clarity and No-Nonsense Commitment
“If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” -Tony Robbins
Most people aren’t serious about their goals. Not really.
At best, most people approach a new goal by saying, “Who knows — maybe it’ll work this time?”
At worst, they start out fully knowing they will fail.
Much of this is subconscious. Of course all those January gym-goers will claim, “this is the time!” Nobody ever thinks they’re not serious.
But in reality, most people aren’t serious.
They aren’t ready to pay the full price for success. At the end of the day, they’d still choose their old behavior over uncomfortable change.
And that’s OK. You don’t need to be ready to turn your life upside-down at every waking moment.
It took many years to build your habits; it’s going to take a long time to learn how to let them go.
Make no mistake: creating a world-class environment that guarantees success requires a no-nonsense level of seriousness most people don’t have.
Do you really want to change?
If you don’t, you’re just wasting your time and creating needless stress. You’d be better off working on your mindset until you become willing.
Do you really want to develop 6-pack abs?
What if it meant no more beer? Or no more burgers and fries? What if it meant a 16-week gym program?
Do you really want to make a living online?
What if it meant waking up at 5AM every day to hone your craft? What if you had to read 20 books in 3 months? What if you had to say no to hanging out with friends because you needed to stay home to work?
If that price is too high, no problem.
It’s better to honestly admit you don’t want to change yet than lie to yourself and waste effort on guaranteed failure.
“I used to tell people, ‘I want to play the piano.’ Then someone said, ‘No you don’t. If you did, you’d make the time to practice.’ I’ve stopped saying that, because he was right.” -Benjamin Hardy
Vowing Doesn’t Work. What Works is Commitment.
“Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan.” -Carol Dweck
Vowing doesn’t work.
What works is a firm, unbreakable commitment you make to yourself.
It’s like a guy hanging midair on a rope. It doesn’t matter if he’s the strongest man in the world — eventually, his hands will get tired and he’ll let go.
White knuckles and gritted teeth can only get you so far. But what happens when you reach the point of exhaustion? What happens when your willpower runs out? (Here’s a secret: it will run out every time).
This is where commitment saves you.
Commitment is beyond you. It’s a higher calling that pulls you into new levels of ability that are impossible to reach on effort alone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, angry, stressed, or depressed. Commitment means no-matter-what.
Commitment is the magic magnet that pulls you back to work when that is the very last thing you want to do.
This is the difference between someone who “wants to lose a few pounds” and someone who declares, “I am someone who lives a healthy lifestyle.”
“Winners act like winners before they become winners. That’s how they become winners.” -Bill Walsh
Most people make vows and promises when they want to change. It might work for a while, but eventually, these promises always break.
Truly successful people create environments that force them to succeed. They don’t rely on their “iron will;” they know that doesn’t work.
The world’s most successful people design a world-class environment that removes all temptation to quit.
I once tried to quit drinking for a month. I foolishly left some old 6-packs and a few wine bottles in the fridge. How long do you think I lasted looking at my favorite IPA every night in the fridge?
It’s infinitely harder to eat healthy if you keep junk food in the house. Stop wasting energy on overcoming temptation, and throw it away!
Vowing doesn’t work. Commitment does.
“95% of our society — the mediocre majority — fail to start life habits that would improve their quality of life. Why? Most people won’t realize the seemingly unbearable first 10 days of a new habit is only temporary. Instead, they think it’s the way the new habit feels, and will always feel, telling themselves, ‘If this new habit is painful, forget it.’” -Hal Elrod
If You Hang Around Negative People, You Can’t Expect Positive Results
“You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.” -Darren Hardy
Common choices create common results.
Most people simply aren’t that focused on self-improvement or personal development. They’re more concerned with entertainment and distracting themselves with the latest gadget or fad.
If you hang around negative people, you can’t expect to have positive results.
Your relationships have an enormous impact on your development. In the words of David Schwartz, “All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down to Second-Class street.” Negative people pull the hardest.
When creating an environment that produces success, removing negative influences is just as important as installing positive influences — maybe more so.
What are your friends like?
Do they value learning and growth?
If you told them an enormous goal you’re working on — would they encourage you and challenge you to succeed?
Or would they smirk and laugh at such an idea?
If you have negative influences around you, cut them out.
It’s hard enough to succeed — don’t make it harder by putting up with critical feedback designed to keep you in mediocrity.
“All of us, more than we recognize, are products of the thinking around us. And much of this thinking is small.” -David Schwartz
Your Outer Life Reflects Your Inner Resolve
“Mental creation always precedes physical creation.” -Benjamin Hardy
If you want world-class results, you need to operate in a world-class environment.
This doesn’t mean you need temperature-controlled leather chairs or personal saunas in your mansion. Anybody can create a world-class environment in their immediate surroundings.
Some choices are simple: start with cleaning up.
The old saying is true — a cluttered desk reflects a cluttered mind. If you try to practice extreme focus in a dirty, messy environment, you’re already making it harder for yourself.
This goes for yourself, too. Get a sharp haircut. Shave. Iron your shirts and lint-roller your blouses.
If you look good, you feel good. If you feel clean, you’ll operate with more focus and resolve.
Your outer environment directly reflects your inner resolve. If you try to become sharp and focused while living in a dirty, messy environment, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
World-class behavior is founded on world-class choices. These are the choices the support the growth of your opportunities and development.
“Small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.” -Darren Hardy
“If you don’t predetermine the conditions in which you’ll stop, you’ll quit prematurely.” -Benjamin Hardy
Navy SEALs have a saying:
“When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.”
Most people quit before they’re even reached half of their effort. Before they’re even halfway done, they’re convinced they’re out of gas. They quit with about two-thirds of their energy left!
If you don’t lay down the law before you start, you’ll always end up quitting with plenty of energy left.
It’s up to you to squeeze out the last of your energy before quitting. You are stronger than you think.
This is why creating a world-class environment is so important. Without it, you’ll never reach your full potential. It’s so easy to give up when you break your first sweat.
Most people do not operate in world-class environments. If this is new for you, that’s OK.
Start small. If you want lasting change, you need to do things differently.
The way to achieve massive success is to create an environment that forces you to be successful.
“To get different results, you’re going to have to do things differently.” -Darren Hardy
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