PART II – How to Design Your Environment for Success

Create your future

Here’s an easy way to apply environment design to your own life: think about your environment in relation to the number of steps it takes to perform a habit. To make good habits easier, reduce the number of steps to do them. To make bad habits harder, increase the number of steps between you and the habit.

Here are some examples…

You want to work out more often, but feel too tired after a long day of work? Or don’t want to get from underneath the covers on a rainy morning?

You can remove one hurdle in your environment by laying out your workout clothes the night before. When your shoes, water bottle, and gear are ready and waiting for you, there is one less hurdle between you and a good workout.


Reduce mindless eating. I don’t know about you, but if I see a cookie sitting on the kitchen counter, then I’m going to eat it. I don’t even need to be hungry. It’s just there, so I respond. I’m simply reacting to my environment. Make life easier on yourself by removing unhealthy food from your view. Put healthier options like fruit and nuts on the kitchen counter.


Environment Design: Where to Go From Here

Most of the time we assume that to take a certain action, we need to have an incentive. You hear people say this all the time: “I need to get motivated.” or “I need to have a good reason for doing X.”

We also assume this same approach for managing and motivating others. Managers and leaders will often assume that they need to incentivize their employees, teammates, or students to take a particular action.

Environment design paints a different picture. It proves that our choices and preferences can be crafted by the environment around us. Suddenly, it becomes apparent that we don’t need to be motivated or incentivized to take action — we simply need to be surrounded by the right cues.

Imagine if your world — your home, your office, your gym, all of it — was crafted in a way that made the good behaviors easier and the bad behaviors harder. How often would you make healthy and productive choices if they were simply your default response to your environment? And how much easier would that be than trying to motivate yourself all of the time?

How is your environment impacting your choices? And what will you do to improve it?

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