Your Surroundings Have a Huge Impact on Your Success
So you’ve set a goal! You want to launch a new career, go back to school, improve your health, or become a better spouse, parent, or friend. But are you sabotaged before you even begin? Your surroundings have a huge impact on your success. Your family and friends, your job, the atmosphere in your home, the music you listen to, and the tv shows you watch, can either set you up for success, or set you up for failure.
Luckily, we have the power to adjust, or adjust to, our surroundings to improve our chances for success. Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” So let’s first look at the surroundings we can change, and then consider how to adjust to the surroundings we can’t change.
The Surroundings We Can Change
- Friends. Are your friends encouraging you to reach your goals and become the best version of yourself? Or are they discouraging your efforts? I had a friend that battled drug addiction for years. He overdosed several times, and at one point, was beaten nearly to death by his dealer. And yet his friends encouraged and pressured him to use cocaine with them every time they got together. Your friends can love you, but not have your best interests at heart. In fact, a lot of people like their friends to be as miserable as they are. It makes them feel better. Rachel Wolchin suggests, “Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.” What kind of energy are you catching from your friends? Find friends that support and believe in you, and that want the best for you.
- Home environment. Studies have found that your home environment can influence your mood, behavior, motivation, and stress levels. So take some time to create a home environment that tips the odds of success in your favor. Declutter to reduce stress and pump up your motivation. Create inviting, comfortable spaces within your home to encourage family members and guests to sit and chat. Open more windows; studies have found that bright lighting (both natural and artificial) reduces depression and anxiety. Consider how you want to feel in your home, and then thoughtfully arrange it to elicit those feelings.
- Workplace. Most people spend more weekday hours with their coworkers than they do with their families. That makes for some powerful influence! If you’ve ever had a job that you hated, you know that a negative work environment can quickly ruin your entire day. It’s depressing and demotivating, and makes it difficult to maintain the joy and optimism that we need to embrace life. So what do we do if our job or coworkers aren’t influencing us in a positive way? Leave if you can! (If you can’t, scroll down to find out how you can adjust.) It’s a pain in the butt to change jobs, I know! I had eleven jobs in four different states in the span of seven years. Woo! But it’s worth the inconvenience to feel happier every day.
- Media. Music, tv shows, movies, books, magazines, social media, they all impact our attitude and mindset. What music and lyrics are playing in your car? What’s on tv, whether you’re giving it your full attention or just playing it in the background? Are the pictures in your magazines raising or lowering your self-esteem? Does social media energize you or stress and depress you? Each of these facets of media can serve to either build us up or tear us down. So pay attention to, and filter, the media messages you’re receiving throughout the day.
The Surroundings We Can’t Change
- Family. Whether your family member is your biggest supporter, or your biggest source of stress, you’re usually stuck with them for a lifetime. Yay! But just because they’re family, doesn’t mean that you’re sentenced to a lifetime of misery. If you have a family member that’s constantly negative and discouraging, you can set boundaries in your relationship and limit the time that you spend with them. Check out my post on rude family for five steps to avoid abuse without sacrificing the relationship!
- Workplace. Sometimes you just can’t leave a job that’s dragging you down. Then what are your options? You can try to make the most of a bad situation by building friendships with coworkers (who might feel similarly). Some of my worst jobs were made infinitely better by having a good laugh with coworkers, or going out to lunch together. You could also try to inject something that you enjoy into your current role. When I worked in a call center, I spent any downtime I could find creating helpful guides for new employees. When I got bored with my medical billing job, I created a new schedule for the front desk and billing staff that helped to boost employee satisfaction and productivity. I enjoy boring, nerdy things, I know. But working on those small projects not only provided a mental break, but also worked in my favor when it came time for raises and promotions. For more ideas for surviving your job, check out this handy post I found online.
Wrap It Up
So consider each area of your life – friends, home environment, workplace, media, and family. First, change the surroundings that you can. Second, change your attitude toward the things you can’t change. Your surroundings will largely determine your success, and you have the power to change those surroundings in your favor. Exercise that power!
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