Humans have the instinctual ability to recognize patterns and learn from them. In the grand scheme of things, you can boil down the success of our species to this inherent quality. I’m not referring to pleasure and pain conditioning like a Pavlovian dog salivating at the sound of a bell. I’m referring to much larger complex patterns. The weaknesses in certain prey, the likelihood of finding a particular herb within a particular environment, the seasons, stars, and larger time periods present in the sky. This in combination with language, a tool used to enrich the collective mind of a civilization over generations, is what really makes us unique.
We’re fools to think that we’ve evolved beyond the primal instincts that let us survive to the point of assembling the collective consciousness we call the world today. I see it as an opportunity. Let’s build societies, products, and environments that work with us. That work with our biology.
Setting up your environment and routine in line with what works with the primal brain enables you manipulate your instinct in order to create positive habit-forming experiences in today’s distraction ridden world. Set up your life to work with your biology and learn to rule your life, and most of all your growth.
This is something as simple as, if you want to eat healthier, do not keep chips (my kryptonite), candy, and ice cream in your house. Create a natural barrier by requiring that you leave your house to cheat. It is possible to change your mindset and ability to resist the urge, yet I’ve found that simply removing the stimulus from your environment results in the desired mindset shift over time. It aids to the changing of your narrative because it becomes easier to believe, “I am a person that eats healthy and takes care of my body”. This mindset shift requires that you begin to create the environment of the person that you want to be, first.
This also applies to people, entertainment, information, and anything that contributes to your everyday environment where the primitive pattern-seeking automatic brain is constantly taking in information. This feeds your executive brain, the decision maker, which creates your beliefs, motives, and values that ultimately become your character.
If you want to change your life, you have to change your environment. You have to look at potentially surrounding yourself with different people, or changing the distance between yourself and those that do not support the person you want to become. What you’re feeding your mind from the black mirror in your pocket, or the one on your family room wall, also contributes to who you are. Change the information you’re feeding your mind to begin changing the way you think.
Output is the sum of input.
Clear your environment of things detracting from the man or woman you want to become. Then when you want to let loose a little, make a conscious choice to do so. Go buy an ice cream cone, grab a drink, order a pizza, a little reward for your discipline. All of this can be jump started by having an accountability partner. Start your journey with someone who supports your growth, and someone you want to support.
Once you’ve created the optimal environment for the path to what you want to become, it’s time to start implementing a strategy for growth aligned with our biology. Here we satisfy the inherent love of pattern recognition. It takes consistency, a little bit of progress. Every. Single. Day.
I had three internships through college with three different Fortune 500 companies. The first one was not for me, the second got sold off after that summer, and the third was not a cultural fit. I was in my last semester, fall of 2013, and I knew I had to make serious moves to get in with a new company.
I read something one night, distracted in the library, that apparently was from an interview with Jerry Seinfeld (not confirmed). The interviewer asked, “how did you become the most successful comedian ever?”. Jerry replied, “I had a dry erase calendar, and every day that I wrote jokes for 2 hours, I put a slash mark. Once you get started, you just don’t want to break the streak!”
I sat back in my chair looking up at the ceiling and thought, “oh my god, it really is that simple. Genius!”
I had a full year-in-view dry erase calendar up on my wall within 2 days (Amazon Prime of course). Every day that I applied for jobs online, or went to a career fair or information session on campus, I would put a slash mark. A couple weeks later, I was flying out of State College, PA for interviews twice per week. This practice is how I ended up with my career at ExxonMobil.
I’ve continued to have my entire year-in-view on my wall, right behind my bathroom mirror for every single year up to the present day. I have a color for multiple things that I want to work towards over that year. The little things that contribute to the person I want to become. The enlightenment of my mind and improvement of my character.
I wanted to try something different for a workout in 2017. I found Yoga, and I completed my 200hr yoga teacher certification that year.
I wanted to go to at least 1 philanthropy event per quarter. I was on the board of a start-up nonprofit organization that brought millennials together to serve the community and network by the second quarter.
I wanted to create a business that changed the relationship between life and work for professionals.
Now here we are.
You can purchase your own year-in-view dry erase calendar at the link below. I’ll be thrilled if you implement this practice in your life, and utilize your biology to change your life. It has helped me to create the man I am today.
Namaste my friends.