Sometimes we try and try again yet we can’t stick with new habits and create the life we want. There might be a holdback you don’t even realize is a problem. You may have created an environment that is keeping you away from the person you want to become. You might have missed the importance of having the right people in your life.
Tim Ferris – the author of The Four Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans, explains this phenomenon as follows:
”You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”Tim Ferris, ”The Tim Ferris Show”
It doesn’t matter if these people are hosts of the podcast that you’ve recently binged or colleagues from work or school. The 5 people that you currently spend the most time with shape your behaviors and mentality. Sure, they won’t change everything about your personality but still a bigger part of it than you’d think. Humans are highly adaptive creatures. This quality is very helpful if you look at it from the point of history and evolution. We can easily adjust to new temperatures and diets but the same goes for changing our mindsets and personalities.
We all know someone who used to be a perfectly decent person that fell into a bad community and ended up doing drugs or transgressed. We even say that it was the “bad company” and not the individual’s actions that resulted in this lifestyle change.
And I think that there’s another rule that applies here. It doesn’t concern the people but the place in which we currently are.
How is it that one wants to strengthen their relationships with their parents and when they come back to their childhood home they return to the old pattern of conflicts? It’s the house. They come back not only to their teenage room but also to their teenage self that’s bugged or annoyed with their parents.
When in a new place, our mind develops a mentality that fits that new environment, and when we come back to that place it doesn’t want to once again figure out how to behave. It goes back to what’s worked before. So we end up having multiple personalities for different situations.
But it doesn’t have to be a weakness. If we realize that this phenomenon does exist in our lives, that it influences us, we can turn it into our advantage by what I call “environment design”.
Environment design is a method of triggering a particular mindset by adjusting one’s closest surroundings. For example, if a person wants to learn how to play the piano a good environment design would be to make friends who also play or sign up for a class in a community center. Or if a person wants to learn Spanish they should spend time with people who speak Spanish.
It’s quite simple really. If you want to become a better person you need to surround yourself with better people. If you want to get better at a certain skill you ought to spend time with professionals in that area. But it’s not just about choosing who to spend time with. It’s largely about choosing who not to spend time with.
You need to make sure that the people you chose to spend your time with move you closer to the person you want to be. That you’re not wasting your precious time and energy on someone that brings the worst out of you. Simply ask yourself this question: “Is this person who I want to be like?”.
If the answer is ”no” it might be a good idea to rethink this relationship. I’m not saying you have to cut out all the people that are not valuable to you but reconsider how much time and energy you’re spending on them.
Environment design is crucial in creating the life you want and I’m just scratching the surface here. I want to write more about this topic as it is an easier approach to creating healthy and productive habits.