Environment plays a huge factor in our lives.
It shapes our thoughts and actions, and it influences the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Our belief systems are formed based off of our experiences within our environment, and our outcome - where we are currently, as well as where we will end up - is very much effected by those belief systems.
In many cases, an environment's effect on an individual is regarded much like water's erosion of a river bed or beach - inevitable and unstoppable - a cause and effect with little to no choice of outcome.
We can't stop our environment from molding and shaping us - we are designed to learn, adapt, and grow. It's in the programming.
We can, however, control how we are effected by that environment - how we respond to it, and, more importantly, we can control the actual content and context of our environment.
This is huge because we can control what shapes us.
The average person spends an enormous amount of time surrounding themselves with the wrong things.
Many people spend at least 4 hours per day on social media. There is enough network and cable programming, along with streaming services, to keep a person occupied for at least 2-3 hours per night. We won't even get into video games.
How much learning is happening in that time - and by learning I mean the acquiring of skill or knowledge that can be applied to some area of life?
How often is a person encouraged to better themselves in that time? How often is strength of character reinforced in that time? How often is a person inspired in that time?
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy entertainment, but it's not at the forefront. It was never meant to be.
We are all meant to live lives of meaning, yet many of us fall into just living to get by - buying the bill of goods that we allow to be sold to us.
We allow ourselves to become products of the environment pumped to us through every medium.
Consumers, living vicariously through pop culture social media, reality television, outrageous sitcoms, over the top action adventures, and propaganda sold as news.
This is not life. You don't read about life or watch it on a screen. You engage it, experience it, and adapt, learn and grow from it. Then you help others do the same.
The problem is, if everything around you is feeding you a message that keeps you in your current state, then you're probably going to stay in your current state.
You need to surround yourself with a message that inspires you to greatness.
Life is hard, and we get tired and lost without reminders. The wrong message, the wrong influence - without a buffer, can be disastrous.
I've seen people who have post its of key words or phrases placed at various spots on their computers and around their desks as constant reminders.
Some gyms have powerful phrases that convey key beliefs painted on the walls. I, like many others, have a banner and a flag in mine to remind me of principles and beliefs that are important to me.
Many athletes (and business people) have mantras they repeat to themselves to keep their focus and self belief high.
I myself started listening to podcasts while driving and using spare time to read books and articles on business, training, and mindset. Surrounding myself with the words and experiences of those better than me keeps me focused and excited as well as more creative and insightful. I am better at what I do when I do this. My head is in the game instead of in the clouds.
All of the above are simple examples of tools and tricks people use to create their environment.
The key is, you need to be challenged and inspired.
There is no room for negative views, negative talk, or negative people.
In my 20's there were many things I wanted to do. The people I was predominantly around at the time weren't interested in the same things I was. There was no one or nothing in my life pushing me to pursue better things, and I didn't have the same outlook or understanding that I do now. I paid dearly for that. I might be in a different place today if I had chosen better back then.
Read that last paragraph again.
Knowing that you will be shaped one way or the other, you can choose to be shaped in a positive and powerful way that propels you toward the things you want - toward your goals.
You can choose to fill your head with messages that support who you want to be, and where you want to go.
If time is an issue for you, then stop squandering it, and put the little of it you have to good use.
Try this - redeem some of the time you spend each day goofing off. Instead of social media or tv, read a book you've had on a list, take a class, learn a new skill - whatever. You know better than me what things you'd love to do.
Pick words that inspire or challenge you, and use them as a personal mantra.
Dump the relationships that foster bad habits and bad thinking. Pursue ones that challenge you to be better.
Fill your head and your life with those things that drive you toward who and where you want to be.
Accept no less.
Eric Chasko is the head of Redemption Fight Club. He is a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Progressive Fighting Systems Full Instructor. From young athletes to busy professionals, he helps people develop the physical, mental, and emotional strength to win on the field, on the street, and in life.