At the end of yesterdays post, I said, “The past informs our present, our experiences can make or limit our success”. Today, I’m going to add environment into the mix because that too can contribute positively or negatively to success in any given human endeavor. Of course, I am not just talking about where you are sitting right now as you read this or whether the Feng Shui of your home or workplace is correct. Environment includes many more variables as we shall see.

Thinking About You

How many times have you tried to improve something and ended up going back to the drawing board or even gone off on a completely different tangent? I think to lesser or greater extents, we’ve all been there.

Happy New Year

Wait, what? That was a little over a month ago. How’re your NY resolutions doing? I noticed a lot of buzzes around the community in the run up to new year and plenty of action just afterwards. Now, to a significant extent, things have gone quiet. In my heart, I hope it’s because people have their heads down and are going for their gold, whatever that may be. Yet, I wonder how many folks have reverted to the way things were before this new decade.

I stopped making new year resolutions several years ago. This was partly due to my own experience but mostly because I observed so many people giving up and drifting back to the way things were the previous year. I didn’t want to be a part of that environment.

Why is That?

For some, it was because they set unrealistic resolutions that were unattainable and to be a little brutal, they were set because they were culturally accepted addictions.

The widely recognized addiction psychologist, Arnold M. Washton said, “Many people think that what the addict needs is willpower, but nothing could be further from the truth”. What they do need is a way out of survival mode; the default setting for many people in today’s society.

Survival Mode

Simply put, survival mode is doing what it takes to keep your head above water, and it affects everything. Often important things fall by the wayside because we are heavily focused on juggling the balls that make up our lives. It can have limiting effects on our physical well-being, our thinking, emotional state and how we conduct our daily activities.

My 16-year-old daughter has been heavily stuck in survival mode since going back to school after the Christmas holiday due to several school examinations that she has just completed. Now she is not well, her resistance is so low that she picked up a bug and since Sunday, struggles to get out of bed. In the run-up to the exams, everything else fell by the wayside. Simple chores were left undone and today her willpower to keep going has evaporated.


Researchers worldwide have been studying willpower and lack of willpower has been frequently cited as one of the reasons why people don’t achieve their goals. It’s hardly surprising really.

First thing in the morning we switch on our phones, TV’s or radios and are assaulted by messages that matter and messages that don’t. Somebody will have posted something on social media while we slept, and it assaults our thinking when we see it. The news tells us of the terrible and mundane, yet it affects our thinking as we try to get ready for our day and deal with the physical aspects of that.

All of it is incredibly draining, survival mode kicks in and we try to put everything aside so we can get on with the things that matter. But there it sits at the back of our minds lowering our vibration and draining our energies. We’ve not even had breakfast yet, if at all.

According to research, willpower is a muscle that depletes with use. I wonder how much depletion goes on during the start of day routine.

Why Willpower?

Arguably, willpower serves as our primary motivator to commit to activities we see as important and dispense with the rest. The more we have, the greater our motivation for success. But what are the sources that willpower comes from?

  • We are unsure about what we want; we have internal conflict.
  • Our “why” is questionable, not strong enough.
  • Investment in self, dreams and aspirations is weak.
  • Our environment conflicts with our goals.

If we are sure about what we want, have an unquestionable “why”, are willing to invest in self and positively change our environment there is no need for debate and willpower is not required so long as we create systems to defend our goals.

My daughter accepted and with help, adapted to her environment and still became quite sick. Today her willpower stores are completely depleted. The only way to prevent that happening again and to her peers is to radically change the education environment. A quest like that will take far more than willpower although such change is not impossible. Yet, we adapt and evolve to the environments that we select or are given.

Defense Systems

  • What will you need to invest up front to achieve goals? Time, money, action, consistency
  • Willingness to publicly declare goals.
  • Setting a timeline.
  • Accepting feedback and holding yourself accountable to self and others.
  • Making sure your environment supports your commitment.

While we have internal and external environments, the most challenging environments are those we find externally.

  • Physical surroundings.
  • People we relate to.
  • The information we accept.
  • Healthy and unhealthy food and drink we consume.
  • The TV we watch, music we listen to.

All affect our personal environment and filter to our internal world. Ask yourself where any of your beliefs came from. Where you born with them? No, they all came from your environment, you took them in and gave them a home by adapting to your environments.

Shaping Your Own Environment

A few weeks ago, I mentioned holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl in a post. In his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”, he said, “a person can get used to anything”. He shaped his environment in the concentration camp and survived despite the terrible conditions. Most of us don’t live in such extreme environments and if we are willing to adjust, we can shape our environments to achieve success in areas of our lives that we choose.

How Does That Work?

If you carry on “getting by” change will be a slow process at best and may even be abandoned. The true way to success is to increase the stakes and be willing to change and adapt to new environments shaped by you.

Outside The Comfort Zone

By mindfully choosing a higher challenge over just plodding along at whatever you do, you increase the stakes and step outside the comfort zone where the only way to success is to change yourself. There are plenty of phenomenally successful entrepreneurs around the world who have done just that. They choose to place themselves into situations many times higher than their experience and change themselves to fit the demands of those environments.

There is an organization in the US started by Joe Polish called, The Genius Network. To join will cost around $25,000 annually. There is no second-year membership available unless members can show they have increased their income by $250,000. In other words, they must increase their output 10-Fold. The only way to achieve that is to push comfort aside, change their environment and do it.

Where Are You?

Perhaps you are happy and comfortable doing what you do and the way you do it. If not, I argue that you need to increase the stakes and step to a higher level. It doesn’t just mean working harder, it means be willing to change and adapt your environment as you grow.

The environment we choose makes or limits our success.


There are many ways to effectively explore and challenge your limits. We need a box of tools to challenge the limits and move forward toward success.

If you feel that you may benefit from help, please leave your contact details in the comments section below and you will be contacted by your preferred method. Please understand that your contact details will never be published, and your privacy is assured.

Comments and Questions

Please leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.


I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy

I wish you a wonderful day.

Peace & Light

Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.


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