Set yourself up for self discipline

Do you think that your ability to self discipline yourself is always up to just you? Maybe it is, but the results of following experiment may surprise you.
Researches from University of Southern California university did a following experiment. They took a big group of people to the cinema and gave them two types of popcorn. One came in huge pot, more than you can eat, but it was fresh. The other one set was even bigger, more than you can ever eat, and on top of that the popcorn was stale. Half of people randomly received the first bag and other half the second one. After the movie was over, not surprisingly, no one ate all the popcorn. And if it wasn’t free some people would definitely demand their money back.
But one very interesting thing happened. The people who received the bigger bag ate 50% more of the popcorn on average than people who received the small one! The conclusion we can take from that is that you are not totally in control of your actions but your environment plays a big role. Of course people would not admit that. After the experiment people were asked if the size of their bag could possibly influence how much they ate. Everybody denied saying they know what they are doing and slammed off such suggestions as ridiculous.
Now that we know environment has a big effect on us, should we cry and whine about it and blame it for our failures? Some sure do that, but actually we should get excited about it. If things in our environment have such a big effect on us, that means we can set up our environment in a way that will bring success! Our willpower might be limited but while we have it we can use it to set up the path and if we did it smart enough we should then continue almost on auto pilot.
For example. Lets say you wanted to start eating healthier and lose some weight. You might be successful with sticking to a diet for some days then you will slowly fall back to your old ways. Why does this happen? You exhausted your self discipline and your environment makes it easy to start eating unhealthy again. For example, you come to the kitchen, open the cabinet and see a bar of chocolate there. You say to yourself “I already had a salad 2 days ago” and eat the chocolate bar. And next thing you know, you have eat a whole pack of them.
Fridge full of beer
Fridge full of beer - maybe not the best way to set up your environment if you want to drink less

But how can you set up your environment to succeed in this example? Few suggestions:

  • Toss all your unhealthy food away.
  • Go to store and buy some healthy food.
  • Prepare your meals in advance for the whole week and put them in the fridge.
Now when you come to the fridge you wont have anything else to choose from but your healthy meals. And you only need to use the self discipline once a week to prepare the meals. Self discipline may be limited so use it wisely. You might set up emails every week in addition to really strengthen the new behavior. Use whatever you can in your environment to set yourself up for success. Use your self discipline in small bursts to set up the environment and your chances of success will skyrocket.
More examples
  • Daily remainders (you can use Habitforge )
  • Keep your gear in visible place.
  • Tell your friends about it so they will nag you, if you don’t do it.
  • Make a bet you will do it. You might even do something as extreme as selling your car if you can go to your work with bike or on foot instead.
Early rising:
  • Get a really LOUD alarm clock and put it out of your reach so you can’t hit the snooze button when it goes off in the morning.
  • Set up an alarm that reminds you to go to sleep too.
Working on your internet business:
  • Make a new Habitforge reminder.
  • Tell friends about it.
  • Put a big sign of your desktop that reminds your about it.
  • Make your business site your home page in your web browser.
I hope you’re starting to see a pattern here. We must set up our environment in a way that will:
  1. Remind us of what we what to achieve constantly.
  2. Make it easier to do what we want, than what we are currently doing and want to change.
I hope this article will inspire you to change something in your environment today. It only takes a little bit of self discipline 🙂