Who’s In Control, You Or Your Environment?
The phrase hustle and do the work has more scientific meaning behind them than you may think.
As humans we are the sum of our actions, the behaviors we exhibit everyday and the amount of discipline we apply to practice. The point of life is to learn, act, know and connect. The question becomes, are we doing this thing called life with direction or as a response to our immediate environment?
The ones who practice discipline and controls their energy will be able to be in control of their life.
Practicing discipline doesn’t mean your first day taking control is 12 hours of non-stop work. This means you can maintain disciplines like 30 minutes in the gym everyday, or 1 minute of meditation in the morning and build up at your own pace. You are committed and able to allocate your time to this action that will help you perform better.
I’ve adopted one principle since my slow climb out of no control, “Doing the work is the only thing that separates me from the person I am now and the person I want to be.” Let’s dive into why.
What is Work?
Work is define as mental or physical activity applied in order to achieve a desired result. We speak of going to “work” but really, we are working all the time. Work is where you direct your energy to breed results.
Even as you sit on the train you are working. Your breathe pattern, whether it is shallow or deep, where your attention is going, what you are thinking about. This is all a series of electromagnetic radiation passing through your body, performing actions. It’s all work.
If you have no goals or desires in mind you are still achieving results but at random. You are achieving results at the will of your environment.
Goal based actions give us the ability to direct where your human energy goes and make you consistently practice discipline. Discipline plus goals allow you to be in control of your life, the work you do, and get past surviving in your immediate environment.
Why are habits and behavior so important?
The key to goal directed work is narrowing down what we want to do, does our work have a focal point we align with and if the total sum of this work is advancing our quality of life and the people around us?
Comparing humans to an algorithm for a bit, habits and behaviors are the systematic rules and functions your brain takes as it interacts with the many different environments.
Environments, according to Jim Bunch are more than the household and office setting.
Environments include your beliefs, your physical environment, your financial environment, your network, time in nature, your relationships, your spirituality and more. How you interact with the different elements in your environment form habits.
These habits, as they are repeated unconsciously with less effort, create behaviors.
Consider the downside and the upside of this.
If you notice your finances were managed poorly this month, is your automated response to be upset and enter a scarcity mindset or be happy you caught your poor behavior and fix your finance management for better cash flow?
Habits are everything. Once the brain sees something and you develop a response that “works” it sticks.
As children you probably heard the phrase “behave” before getting out the car for school. You mom knows she hasn’t reprogrammed you yet to control yourself so you need that trigger to enter the program mode acceptable by your environment.
In the context of energy and applying force to do work, what work are you doing everyday? Are you being reactive or do you have a plan. What would the total sum of your behavior say about your goals in life? The difference between someone who is doing what they love and someone is not is the there ability to gain self-control and effectively use this avatar we call the human body to take proper action.
How can we gain control when there are so many choices to make?
The plethora of choices we have to make daily is why a focus on controlled behavior is so pivotal.
There are an infinite amount of possibilities and as life continues we will have an infinite amount of choices. So do you want to be overwhelmed by this truth, no. You want to adopt rules to eliminate the choices that don’t hold weight in the bigger picture.
If you walk in Dunkin’ Donuts there are literally 25+ kinds of donuts to choose from. Imagine you get one new donut a day, that’s about 25 donuts to choose from 365 days of the year.
In order to gain control, when there are so many choices, is to set rules for yourself.
A simple rule to curtail your behavior and limit the error in decision making would be to adopt the rule “No donuts.” If that is to harsh, “I can only have a donut on Saturdays and I can only have the unfrosted ones.” That should bring the 25 down to about 10. Perfect.
Rules make behavioral change easier.
Sometimes we will do more work making the small decisions like what to eat or what color shoes today because we feel as if it’s something we can control (when the rest of our life is a chaotic). I believe the more value a decision has on your life long-term and the human collective as whole is correlated to the amount of time spent in the certain decision making process.
Some choices aren’t necessary to your goals thus they create the illusion of important work.
Someone else did the work to make those donuts and it’s a time suck standing there and picking one. At the root of it all, donuts are flour, sugar and food coloring, but we are so fascinated to the idea of an end result, we forget where it started.
Why do we not have control in the first place?
Imagine we can out our mother’s womb with a mac-book and the desire to choose 8 hours of sleep over a drunk night with friends, that would be amazing right? One of the rules of the game is we all undergo some degree of suffering. Suffering is a commonality between all human life so we gain potential energy to help advance our world.
Potential energy is energy stored in the body waiting to be used. Kinetic energy is the application of this potential energy to do the work.
Coming full circle, we don’t have control initially because we don’t know our direction, don’t know enough and most importantly, we don’t what we truly want. Some people start off with better behaviors than others, based on the self-realization of the people around them, but the control of behaviors and habits still needs adjusting as they learn more.
It is human nature to be instinctively curious so we can learn. Once we have a solid general idea of life, and good grounding, we can start refining rules and program ourselves to reach desired outcome.
I found that looking at the world in patterns really helps put information into perspective. After you free yourself of limitations and boundaries, you can make a careful plan for where you want to direct your energy.
In my new book, set for released this Winter 2018, How to Work Through Difficult Moments, you will find 17 exercises to reprogram yourself.
For this blog post I would like to leave you with one habit reformation flow chart adopted from Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. This exercise is a way to assess your habits and how they formed. What habits do you have on autonomous mode and how you can control them instead of letting them be controlled by your outside environment?
I recommended doing this weekly as you uncover habits of yourself you do not find progressive anymore.
All in all, set goals for yourself, document your habits original source and change them overtime to match your goals. We are all doing work at every minute of the day. Is the work you do progressive, keeping you in the same place or keeping you in a state of suffering without understanding?
Click here to download the PDF version from Charles Duhigg’s website directly.
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