Willpower Doesn't Work - by Benjamin Hardy
The title of the book sums up Hardy's main premise. "To be addicted has become the norm," writes Hardy, "and if you want to control your life, willpower should not be your strategy of choice." Rather, Hardy suggests, "you need to create and control your environment." If you want to change, you have to change your environment.
• If you want to stop drinking wine, remove the bottles of wine from you house.
• If you want to be more focused at work, clear off your desk and turn off your phone.
• If you want to read each night instead of watching television, put the remote in the drawer and the book you are reading out on the table instead.
Your environment, Hardy says, "includes your physical surroundings, the people you choose to form relationships with, the information you let in, the foods you consume, and the music you listen to." Your environment is that which is external. And "you must gather and plant the right seeds from your environment to make a bounteous garden of your life." Got it? Good. Now take stock of your environment and make the necessary changes."Your potential is shaped by what surrounds you." Do you have loser friends? Lose them. Well, okay, at least one of them. And go from there.
Hardy says aim to make your environment compel you to be the best version of yourself. Okay, I get it: easier said than done. But somewhere between STUCK and FREE is where you reside. Get your house (your environment) in order between the two pillars and lean in the right direction.
The more mindful you are, the more you create your context. "You are responsible for shaping and choosing the environments that will ultimately shape the person you become and the destiny you have." Yes, YOU are responsible. If you choose to be. "Growth is optional and is rarely the case." Too many people pass on growing up and taking responsibility for their lives. But you can. Really. And not by exerting willpower but by changing your environment.
A point that Hardy makes that rings all too true is that "Very few people take the time to recover from work, technology, people, food, and life." Rest and relaxation matter and are important. As is time alone without inputs. Too many of us succumb to the 24-7-all-inputs-all-the-time world. Not good. You do not live strictly in a workplace environment. At the same time, your life ought not be strictly all about taking it easy. "Although most people seek the path of least resistance," Hardy writes, "and thus adapt to ease and idleness, immense challenge and difficulty should be your lot in life. Deep, not shallow, water is what you should want to swim." In short, "You can't grow in life if you don't push yourself."
Hardy believes in having a morning ritual. "If you want a different life, you must be a different person. Your morning ritual is what triggers a peak state. That state then reminds you of who you want to be and how you want to act. You then act from that state , as that person, for the remainder of your day."
Here is the calculus according to Hardy: BE ---> DO ---> HAVE. "You must first be a certain way, then act from that place, order to have what you want." Simple. And hard. Hardy recommends making journal writing part of your morning routine. For 5 to 15 minutes, get the thoughts - "the insights, plans and goals you have" - out of your head and onto the page. Writing things down has a way of focusing one's attention.
Hardy states simply, "Becoming a better person is difficult." But that's okay. It's just the way it is. "If you want to evolve to another level, you need to let go." Maybe it means you stop smoking. Or break up with the person you are with. Or clean out your closet. You tell me. I'll tell you it's likely going to be hard to change your environment and tempting to return to what you are leaving behind. Do yourself a favor and keep on keeping on. Find the support structure you need to stay with your new environment.
Let's start with stuff. "The less you own," Hardy says, "the more you have." Get rid of stuff you don't use that is weighing you down. "Get organized. Clear the garden of your life." LESS IS MORE.
Let's follow with distractions. Turn off the notifications on your phone. All of them. Did you know the average person checks their phone over 85 times a day? STOP. Be in the moment. Fully. Pay attention. To yourself. To others. Aim to ACT rather than REACT. SIMPLIFY your life. Does drinking alcohol complicate your life? Quit. You could. Really. Are you feeling isolated? Put some time into your family and friends.
You need to find replacements for your addictions. "You cannot actually overcome an addiction," Hardy writes, "without replacing it with something else." And having others to support you. It's hard to go it alone.
Change is about learning new things. And that means making mistakes. Too many people are concerned about what other people think about YOU. Here's a little secret: most people don't care about you. Get over yourself and fail forward. In life, you are either on offense or defense. Hardy recommends you bank on being on the offense. Fall down. Make mistakes. Be laughed at. Live your life. GO ALL IN. "When you're fully committed to something," Hardy says, "the negative emotions and experiences along the way are expected."
And by the way, failure and real-world experience are the fastest way to get relevant information to move forward with your life. "Your environment for success can't be a classroom or a therapy couch." Ouch. "Environmental design for powerful learning involves experience in real-world situations." YOU GOTTA DO THINGS.
The good news is that it's never too late to change. Start now. Decide to grow up. Live the life you were meant to live. Let's do this.