by Jake Thompson

It's Hard to Escape This to Succeed

Is your environment - not your discipline, talent, or motivation - ...
It's Hard to Escape This to Succeed

Fifteen years ago my fitness was a wreck.

I had gained a ton of weight toward the end of graduate school thanks to an inconsistent workout routine and a very consistent party routine.

The spark to change was actually my dad making a joke at one point when I was home for the holidays. 

Hellllllllllllll no, I thought. I need to change. 

I joined a local 24-hour fitness and started working out each morning...

...for a week or two.

Then I felt the inconsistent call reach out. I missed a day, then two.

I would get frustrated with myself & inability to stay disciplined. I thought I was tougher than this.

Flash forward, four months and I was in the gym consistently six days a week. I stopped drinking Sunday-Friday & dropped weight while rebuilding my confidence to do tough things.

So what happened? 

I changed my environment.

I struggled to workout consistently when it was just me.

One morning I wandered into the basketball courts and was asked if I wanted to run with a team short one player.


I spent the next hour playing, and afterwards, was asked if I wanted to play again.

I started showing up five days a week to play basketball for an hour. I would wake up earlier to make sure I lifted weights prior - or would make time after work to go back.

It was easier going to bed early - and without alcohol - when I knew I had to wake up early enough to train before we started shooting hoops at 6am.

I didn't want to roll in hungover or skip because there were people relying on me to show up.

We weren't playing a big league or even for anything more than the pure fun of the game - but we counted on the same people showing up so that we had enough to play.

If someone skipped, multiple people got screwed because we lacked enough for teams.

There was accountability that if you said you'd be there, you were counted on to be there. 

Many of us are trying to make changes in isolation.

We're trying to cut down on drinking while hanging out with people who drink 5-7x a week.

We're trying to read more consistently while going out on the weekends with people who haven't touched a book since college.

We're wanting to improve our growth while hanging out with people who want to go through the motions Monday-Friday.

It's no wonder some of us are struggling to build the consistent momentum we desire.

Our environment isn't helping us succeed.

It's incredibly difficult to outperform your (social) environment.

That's why joining a group class gym (OTF, CrossFit, F45, etc) is better than trying to workout alone.

You're more likely to develop the habits you want by hanging out with people who already have them.

You're forced to build those same habits - or lose the relationships.

Think about it: the active people aren't going to go out drinking every night because they enjoy their 6am workouts - therefore if you hang out with them, you'll be forced to adopt their schedule to continue hanging out.

Which ultimately helps you reach your goals.

It doesn't haven't to be physical environment either. 

I think about my friends at Street Parking and the online community they've cultivated so that people who workout at home (alone) know they aren't alone. It keeps everyone accountable & more likely to be consistent by providing a new online environment.

Does your environment help or hurt your chances to grow? 

This can be a tough question to ask ourselves because we like our current environment. It's comfortable. Maybe the friends are fun.

But sometimes we have to face the truth that the comfort of our current environment helps us fail more easily than move forward.

So what's a person to do?

1. Identify where your environment can be hurting your progress than helping it.

2. Pick one (small) thing you can do to change the environment to help you have less friction.

- Ex: If you struggle to wake up early, try moving your phone alarm to across the room so you are forced to get out of bed to turn it off. The chances of you staying up are much higher when your feet are on the floor rather than tucked in while you gently tap the snooze button.

3. Identify people around you (offline or online) who have those habits you want.

Ask them how they built it successfully. Find ways to spend time with them. Learn what they did well/poorly in order to adopt.

4. Give yourself the grace to understand you won't be perfect. 

The good news is you don't have to be in order to build a new habit - you just have to be consistent at getting back on track when you mess up. Missing a day can be the excuse to give up on the rest of your week - or it can be the motivation to start back immediately.

What if a change in environment is what you need to finally get going in the direction you want? 

If you're looking for more tips on being consistent, I wrote 3 blog posts on the topic last year. You can find the first one here.

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