These days we are told that we have the power to transform our lives into everything we want them to be. That the only thing holding us back is ourself and our laziness. Wow, way to feel guilty if things don’t go to plan. Truth is, it’s about a lot more than positive thinking and self-discipline.
Of course there are some things we can change through pure willpower alone. But if we stay in the same place, see the same people, do the same things day in and day out, we are not just swimming against the tide, but eventually a huge wave is more than likely going to come and wash us back to where we started.
What we need is to find a different beach with calmer water. Regardless of whether we want to eat healthier, feel calmer, find more fulfilling job, increase our motivation, etc. There are factors outside of pure willpower which have a much more profound impact on our lives than perhaps we appreciate.
1 – The Place
This is not just the city we live in, not even just our house or apartment, but the places we spend the hours of our day. Our physical environment has a huge impact on our health and happiness. I’m not saying you need to move (although maybe if it’s something you’ve been thinking about – consider it more seriously), but make the time to go to places you feel calm, happy, disconnected, connected; what ever it is you need. Whether it’s a park, a friend’s house, a little cafe, a woodland walk or somewhere further afield. Find a way to visit your happy places more regularly. Notice I didn’t say comfortable places. Acknowledge that your sofa although comfy, homely, easy, safe, and can be great; it is not necessarily always a healthy, inspiring place.
2 – The People
Sometimes the people and the places go hand in hand. Positive and negative. I know that stepping out of our comfort zone and meeting new people can be very intimidating, but if the people who we see on a weekly basis don’t have an overall positive impact on our lives, maybe it’s time to meet some new people. That’s not to say cut people out completely, but the more positive, genuine people we have in our lives, the better it’s going to be. It can be so lonely being around a lot of people but feeling disconnected from them. It can also feel lonely being around only your partner all the time, it’s nice to have a bit of diversity. It doesn’t mean they have to be your best friends, but just being around other kind or inspiring or wise people helps. Of course we should always strive to be that kind of person to our friends and loved ones too.
3 – The Routine
If there is something you want to implement in your life but your routine does’t change, just hoping that little voice in your head that’s saying ‘don’t do that’ will be enough is such a struggle. Say for example you want to eat healthier; that doesn’t just happen in the moments you are about to make something to eat, it happens in your weekly routine. Change how you shop at the supermarket, change where you buy your lunch, change the restaurant you meet your friends at. If you want to include more exercise then rather than feeling bad that you didn’t go on that jog you said to yourself you would do in the morning – join a fitness group, a sports club or a dance class. Having a specific time to do things and a teacher or coach to motivate you makes things more straightforward. Exercise can be tiring enough without having to exhaust ourselves over finding the time or making the decision to start. Include it in your new routine and if others hold you accountable, not just yourself, then even better!
What I’m trying to say is that of course we have the power to change things but sometimes the changes might need to be on a bigger scale to become long-lasting. Having gone through a lot of this myself this year back in the UK it has made me realise that although I consider myself a motivated, positive, hard-working, happy person, it doesn’t just come from within me. Life becomes so much smoother when things are reflected in my environment. Being in a place I feel connected to, having my own space, seeing my friends, having the financial independence to create my own routine. So take the time to consider your day to day environment – physical, social, emotional. You don’t have to struggle day to day fighting against an environment that isn’t conducive to the way you want to live. I know that bigger changes are more scary but in the long-run they make life so much more enjoyable and fluid.