avatarSean Barker, CPT, PN2


3 Life-Changing Pieces of Advice That Most People Ignore

Turn obstacles into opportunities and conquer any challenge

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

1. Environment trumps motivation

During the Vietnam War, 34% of US soldiers used heroin to cope with the constant stress of war, and over 20% became addicted.

However, research indicates that only 1% of those who returned home remained addicted to heroin, mainly due to changes in their environment.

Upon completion of treatment, up to 60% of people struggling with addictions relapse.

When individuals leave the environment that triggered their addiction, they may become clean. However, upon returning home and rejoining their old neighborhood and friends, they often relapse into their former behaviors.

Most people believe that lack of willpower is the main obstacle to changing habits, when in fact, focusing on skill power and environmental control are the key levers to pull.

In other words, by reducing the time spent in tempting situations, habit change becomes easier.

Many seemingly disciplined people are simply better at organizing their lives, reducing their reliance on willpower. They do this by reducing the friction on the path to success, making the journey smoother and not harder.

If you spend time with individuals who engage in drug use, excessive drinking, smoking, overeating, or criminal behaviors, you are more likely to adopt their habits and lifestyle.

As parents, we often highlight this concept of influence to our children. However, it also applies to adults.

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Surrounding yourself with individuals who do not prioritize a healthy lifestyle can have a negative impact on your own health and fitness. Their habits can become an acceptable norm for you.

However, the good news is that the opposite is also true.

Surrounding yourself with positive, healthy, and fit individuals can have a positive impact on your own health and fitness.

It can motivate you to adopt healthier habits and strive for better physical and mental well-being.

Snow is a Poor Substitute for Soil

Living in Canada, I enjoy eating juicy oranges as part of a healthy diet. During March break, I also look forward to escaping the cold winters with my family in Florida.

Whenever I eat an orange, it reminds me of the impact our environment has on our behavior, as stated in James Clear's best-selling book, Atomic Habits.

“You can be the most talented farmer in the world, but it won’t help you grow Florida oranges in the Canadian winter. Snow is a poor substitute for soil.”

If you want to increase your chances of succeeding at any goal, including improving your health and fitness, you need to be in an environment that helps you rather than hinders you.

  • You can make it easier to avoid eating unhealthy foods by keeping them out of the house or at least storing them in less visible places.
  • You can make it easier to work out in the morning if you place your gym clothes out the night before. Pre-setting your coffee maker also helps!
  • You can stop scrolling on your phone late at night by keeping your phone out of your bedroom. Use a regular alarm clock if that’s your excuse.

If you want to change your habits and behavior, changing your environment is one of the most effective ways to do it.

It’s essential to put yourself in a place where you are surrounded by the right people and support systems that will help you move forward and not hold you back.

2. You do you

Having empathy is a vital social skill, but excessive concern for other’s opinions can harm your happiness and success.

Think back to a time when you experienced social anxiety — perhaps before giving a speech, attending a meeting, or entering a crowded gym.

You felt anxious and scared because you were worried about other’s glaring eyes and being judged.

Michael Gervais, Ph.D. is one of the world’s top high-performance psychologists and the author of The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You.

Michael refers to this uncomfortable feeling as FOPO or our (Fear of Other People’s Opinions.)

“If you start paying less and less attention to what makes you you — your talents, beliefs, and values — and start conforming to what others may or may not think, you’ll harm your happiness and potential.

You’ll start playing it safe because you’re afraid of what they will say and do. You’ll fear being ridiculed or rejected.”

When facing challenging situations, it's easy to lose perspective and give in to social pressures that will affect your behavior.

  • You won’t raise your hand when you have a question.
  • You won’t say no to the doughnuts at the office.
  • You won’t lift the heaviest thing at your local gym, the front door.

If you want to overcome FOPO, it’s important to develop self-awareness and confidence, which requires consistent practice — much like putting in the reps to build your physical strength.

  • The more you raise your hands in meetings, the easier it gets.
  • The more you say no when offered junk food, the easier it gets.
  • The more often you show up at the gym, the easier it gets.

If you want to be your best while being less fearful of people’s opinions, you must develop a stronger and much deeper sense of who you are.

Remembering this can help…

What’s Right For Someone Else May Be Wrong For You

It’s important to recognize that other’s opinions are often based on their beliefs, values, and what they would do.

However, what is best for somebody else can be the worst thing for you.

What one person considers trash can be another person’s treasure.

We are all unique. Only you know what is right for you.

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” ~Lao Tzu

3. Believe to achieve

Two of the most self-limiting words you can say to yourself are “I can’t.”

Ever since my children were young, I’ve always told them that those two words are bad words in our house.

Unfortunately, many people use the phrase repeatedly to avoid uncomfortable work or fear of failure.

When it comes to building a better body, I commonly here:

  • “I can’t do pushups!”
  • “I can’t lose the weight!”
  • “I can’t afford it!”

By replacing the phrase "I can't" with the question "How can I?", you can boost your self-confidence and achieve almost anything through repetition and resourcefulness.

Sometimes, when we don’t succeed at something, we tend to think of it as a failure. However, it’s important to remember that failure is just feedback from life’s lessons and a gentle nudge to help us learn and make the necessary corrections.

It’s similar to a GPS, which guides us by letting us know when we make a wrong turn so we can get back on track.

Photo by Ravi Palwe on Unsplash

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Self Efficacy is Effective

Self-efficacy refers to the level of confidence and belief we have in our abilities to succeed in life.

After studying self-efficacy for decades, psychologist James Maddux concluded that:

“Believing that we can accomplish what we want to accomplish is one of the most important ingredients for success.”

Indeed, countless research studies have shown that having high levels of self-efficacy can help us pursue our goals, cope effectively with stress, engage in healthy behaviors, and have better psychological well-being.

Believing in yourself means having faith in your capabilities. When you believe in yourself, you can overcome self-doubt and have the confidence to take action and get things done.

Your belief is the single most powerful tool you have. You can completely change your life just by changing your beliefs!

The Power of Belief

  • Belief gave now-famous actors the courage to keep showing up to auditions when nobody knew their names.
  • Belief allowed struggling authors (despite hundreds of rejected manuscripts) to persevere and eventually publish best-selling books.
  • Belief is what keeps superstar athletes training through pain, injury, and loss until they make it to the top of their sport.

Belief is not wishful thinking. Rather, it has the power to change the way you see the world and yourself.

Belief allows you to see opportunities where others see obstacles.

Take control of your surroundings, be mindful of others’ opinions, and always have faith in yourself to conquer any challenge.

That is how you can transform both your body and life.

Sean Barker is an award-winning fitness coach and best-selling author of the Easy Eating Diet and The Easy Eating Diet Cookbook on Amazon. Online he helps busy parents and professionals get fit in less time while still enjoying pizza and wine. You can apply for his Online Custom FIT Coaching here: https://bit.ly/3wzBhHH

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