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The outside-in effect

Relying on willpower and attempting big leaps aren’t helpful in changing behavior. Neither is ignoring how environment shapes behavior, which is #3 on Fogg’s list of mistakes in behavior change.

Want to change your life? Then change your context.

It can take lots of forms.

Most of us are creatures of routine. Even if we enjoy new things, part of us craves the safety of a familiar context. And familiarity blinds us. We lose the ability to see with fresh eyes. We see what we expect to see … not what’s actually there.

Look around your room. What do you see?

Now look again, with fresh eyes, as if you were seeing it for the first time. What do you notice that you missed before?

Think about the last time you were in a new place–another city, a vacation spot, maybe even a different country. Chances are, you did things you’d never dream of doing at home. Why? Because new environments grab our attention and ignite our curiosity. We do things out of the ordinary.

Environment isn’t just place. It’s also people. Think about your workplace or  circle of friends. Who supports and encourages you in your efforts to change? Who doesn’t? How would your life and behavior change if you were hanging out with people who are already doing or being what you’re aspiring to do or be?

It’s easy to forget that we are always one person within a larger context. The two are interdependent. When we’re trying to change, especially if we’re struggling, it’s easy to feel alone. Yet the environment is always there, influencing and being influenced by us. So invite the outside in. How’s it helping and how’s it hindering? Which set of influences do you want to tie your dreams to?