Human beings possess an innate ability to recognize patterns and learn from them. This inherent quality has played a significant role in our species’ survival and evolution. We’re not talking about simple conditioning, like a dog salivating at the sound of a bell. We’re referring to our capacity to discern complex patterns in the world around us: the weaknesses in certain prey, the identification of specific herbs in distinct environments, the observation of celestial phenomena such as seasons and stars. Coupled with the power of language, which enables us to accumulate knowledge across generations, this ability sets us apart.
In the grand scheme of things, our survival-driven primitive instincts continue to shape our lives today. However, rather than viewing this as a hindrance, we can see it as an opportunity. Let’s design societies, products, and environments that align with our biological inclinations.
Setting the Stage for Positive Change
Syncing your environment and routines with your primal brain aids in cultivating positive habits amidst distractions. For instance, if you aim to eat healthier, consider removing tempting snacks like chips and candy from your home. Creating a barrier that requires you to leave the house to indulge can facilitate a shift in mindset over time. It becomes easier to embrace the belief, “I am someone who prioritizes healthy eating and self-care.” Thus, building the environment of the person you aspire to be is the initial step.
This principle extends to your social circle, content intake, and daily information absorption. Your automatic, pattern-seeking brain constantly processes this input, which shapes your beliefs, motives, and values, ultimately defining your character.
Changing Your Environment to Change Your Life
If you seek personal transformation, you must consider changing your surroundings. Consider changing your social circle, distancing from unsupportive people, or adjusting your media consumption for personal growth. Remember, your output reflects your input.
Begin by decluttering your environment of elements that hinder your desired personal growth. When you feel the need for a bit of indulgence, make a conscious choice to do so. For instance, treat yourself: have a drink, or order a pizza as a reward for your discipline. Having an accountability partner can also jump-start this process. Start your journey with someone who supports your growth, and reciprocate that support.
Implementing a Growth Strategy
Once you’ve optimized your environment. It’s time to implement a growth strategy that aligns with our biological predisposition for pattern recognition. This involves consistency and incremental progress every day.
Here’s a personal example:
During my college years, I had three different internships with Fortune 500 companies, but none seemed like the right fit. In my last semester, I knew I needed a change. One day I stumbled upon Jerry Seinfeld’s interview. He credited his success to a simple habit: marking a calendar daily while honing his craft. This concept resonated with me.
I promptly hung a year-in-view dry erase calendar on my wall and marked it every day. I applied for jobs and attended career events. Within weeks, I had interviews lined up. This practice eventually led me to my career at ExxonMobil. I’ve continued this practice, using the calendar to track various personal goals.
Conclusion and Action
You can adopt this powerful practice in your life too. Get your year-in-view dry erase calendar and leverage your biology to drive positive change. It’s a tool that has helped me become the person I am today.