Your Environment Is Killing Your Success!

You’ve heard this many times… “You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.” I personally like to forget the number and focus on the part that says “you spend your time with.” Why is that? Because the number is completely irrelevant. If you spend all your time with a single person, that person will inevitably have the most influence on you. Or will she? In this article, we’ll look at how your environment affects your progress, your thinking and ultimately your success.

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Taking responsibility for your life

In the introduction above, we stressed the importance of you spending your time with the people around you. It is crucial for you to understand that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life. This doesn’t mean that you should blame yourself for everything that has happened in your life before. You need to remind yourself that you are in control of your life. That is why you need to hold yourself accountable for everything that happens to you. You are in control. You are the only person that can change something and your environment that affects you greatly is one of those things only you can change.

The power of your surroundings

Why is my environment so powerful? Why does it influence me so much? This has to do with your subconscious mind and the way it is programmed. There are many ways you can programme your subconscious mind that include your self-talk or for instance your environment. The one feature that underlines this influence is the regularity of anything in your life. Our brain works in a way that allows it to make fast decisions based on your memory from the past events that were similar to the present one. This means that when you encounter something brand new, your brain looks for the closest similar thought you have stored and connects the present thought to it. Furthermore, our brain works on the basis of regularity, which basically means that it works based on the habits it creates. This means that the more you think a certain thought, the more true it becomes. Thus it follows that the more you hear or see something negative, the more negative you will think. This analysis comes from the book called What to Say When You Talk to Yourself written by Shad Helmstetter Ph.D. Now that you see why the environment you live in is so important to your state of mind and to your behaviour, let’s look at how you can improve it so that you think positively, grow and progress towards your goals.

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Setting your surroundings for success

When thinking about how to create a positive and growth supporting environment, you need to think about the ways you perceive the environment around yourself. You are what you consume. We are ultimately affected by our thoughts that are triggered mainly by our vision and hearing. These are the two larger things you can directly affect. First, let’s focus on controlling what you hear. It sounds more than obvious that you need to switch from all the depressing songs about lost love to something more forward-looking that will get you to a more focused and positive state. Further, you need to make sure that you spend more time around people who are forward looking and who like to talk about positives, rather than to brag about negatives. It’s good to regularly listen to positive talks, motivational songs etc. to keep yourself on the track and to support the believer in you. Always tell yourself, you are what you consume. Second, you need to control what you see. This includes the videos you watch, the posts you read, the books you read, the news you skim through, everything that is visual. This can be, again, controlled by you. You need to make sure that you see little of negatives and lots of positives. For instance, you can create posters with positive quotes or your goals (for goal visualisation) that you hang somewhere visible in your room. Stop following these deep-quote pages on Instagram that are relatable, but make you feel terrible about yourself. You are what you consume, so go crazy on seeing and hearing only the stuff that will help you grow.

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Speaking to yourself

Finally, as we have already discussed in our recent post, where we look at how incredibly you can affect your subconscious mind only by thinking specific thoughts regularly, you need to make sure that when the most important person (yes, that’s you) is speaking to yourself, you can hear positivity and support. Make sure you go through that article as well to truly bulletproof your mindset. Learn how to speak to yourself in a way that kicks you in the butt and reminds you that you are in control, you are the winner and that you need to progress and change positively in order to achieve whatever you are aiming for.

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Getting In Control of Your Days

Day in, day out we stress about our productivity, about procrastination, we have mood swings, we simply fail to be consistent with our performance. What’s more important, we fail to sustain our growth, sometimes we even regress. Why does that happen? Why are people so inconsistent with their days? Why are we uncapable of keeping it all together and making high quality decisions throughout our day?

The reason is the amount of decisions we make. An average person makes about 40 thousand decisions every day, most of them unconsciously. When you make them unconsciously, how can you control them then? Step number one – habit creation, which we’ve already covered in one of our recent posts.  Step number two, however builds on the first step. Step number two is your morning and evening routine.

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Why are these two routines so important?

As I have mentioned above, the major issue people absolutey fail to cope with is the amount of decisions they have to make every day, which include the morning and the evening as well. How can you focus on what is important for you when you have to think about all the little things like what to eat, when to work out, whether to first take shower or do your reading? These tiny little decisions not only take away your precious time, but also your space for quality decision making. The two routines are crucial, because they allow you to use your time and focus on the things that need it the most.

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Your morning routine

Your mornings ultimately determine how your day looks like. Your mornings determine whether you finish everything you plan to finish, whether you’ll be grumpy or positive, whether you will have enough energy or not. Your mornings are the fundamental stones of your success. You will not make the most of your day, if you won’t make the most of your morning.

Every morning has its value that you need to learn to capture and utilise. I would personally suggest early mornings because of the great feeling of being awake and productive while everyone still sleeps. But that is purely my personal preference. I know loads of people who can never make this work. Thus it is necessary for you to set up your day based on your personal preferences. The time after you wake up is the time when you are the brightest and the most capable of productivity. From my personal experience, it is also the best time to finish the hardest task of the day. Whether it is a workout, a reading, or a report for your boss, getting the toughest thing out of the table first thing in the morning is the best thing you can do for your day. It will take off the pressure and motivate you for the rest of the day.

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The length of your morning routine can range from 10 minutes to 3 or more hours, it is really up to you. What’s important is that you make it a habit – you repeat it consistently. What this does for you is it helps you save some of the decisions you would have to make in the morning, because you will make them unconsciously, based on your habit. You will be able to fully focus on the tasks ahead of you and you won’t feel stressed or rushed.

Your evening routine

Many, many advisors talk about morning routines. But what they forget about is something that precedes our mornings, our evenings. Your “cool-down” routine or an evening routine, as you may, is a very important part of your day without which your morning routine wouldn’t work properly. Why is that? Let’s speak in terms of your common sense. What happens if you go to sleep late? What happens if you go to sleep and you’re still thinking about that stressful report for tomorrow? Or even worse, what happens if you go to sleep drunk? The short answer is, your next morning will be ruined, which is logically followed by the catastrophic day full of nothing. Your evenings decide how your mornings look like.

It is good to decide when your evening starts, so that you are clear on when your evening routine begins. Evening routines are usually shorter than morning routines. They usually take up to 30 minutes (or more if you’re the kind of person who spends an hour in the washroom). For me personally, it includes washing up, visualizing my goals and writing them down, making a note of what I am grateful for that has happened that day and a short meditation. This createts the needed peace of mind when I go to sleep. I don’t overthink anymore, I rarely have late nights when I can’t fall asleep and most importantly, I am ready to hit it in the morning next day.

When my evening routine begins, I don’t need to think about what to do next. It all hapens automatically, subconsciously. It is a habit of mine that I have created and that  allows me to keep my morning routine working precisely and effectively.

Before you start, write it down!

Writing the routines down is at first necessary, because you have not yet programmed your brain in that way. You need the regularity first, which usually takes from 20-30 days to be put in place. After a while (you’ll know when), you won’t have to think about it anymore, you won’t have to read it anymore, it will just happen.

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Just a side-note, it is better to go to sleep early and finish your marking in the early morning than to stay up late. Don’t be like Amanda (or whatever you’d like to name her) above 🙂

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Speaking your dreams into existence

Dreams, vision, faith, goals, all of these concepts are crucial for your growth. All of these concepts are necessary for you to succcessfully change, develop as a person and finally achieve what you desire the most. But having these in your mind alone will not lead to your final victory. It will not help you get there. These are only the partial ingredients to your success cake, but they will never stick together without one simple thing – action. The question loads of people ask then is, well how do I take action? How do I make myself take action? The answer to this question is to be found in the discipline of psychology. You need to understand how your brain works before you can make it change and develop. This is the moment when one of the powers everyone has, but rarely anyone uses properly comes in. That is, the power of the spoken word.

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Welcome to your brain

Before you get to the stage where you can take action without looking back, you need to exercise your most powerful weapon that separates you from everything living on this planet – your brain. The issue here is the way the world around us is set up, which results in a traditional way most kids grow up these days. And that way is unfortunately not very positive. According to Shad Helmsetter, Ph.D. who wrote an excellent book about this topic called What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, more than 70% of the things people hear in their childhood are negative. These are usually in some form of: “You can’t do this” or “You are not good enough to do this”. You might not hear these specific sentences, but these are the general messages the kids’ brains receive. So first, to be able to take action on your dreams, you need to re-programme your brain. This involves a ton of effort and most importantly, habits and repetition.

Repetition and Habit Creation

Our lives are mostly run on habits and on subconscious, repetitive actions. Why is that? Aren’t we all supposed to have a free will of our own? I definitely do everything on purpose, my actions are all conscious – is what you might be thinking. But, do you really? It is said that an average person makes about 40 thousand decisions every day. Do you really make all these decisions consciously? (clue – no!) Our lives are run on habits. In other words, our lives are, from the greatest part, run by our subconscious mind. The most successful people realise that and make use of it. Jeff Bezos makes approximately 3-4 major decisions every day and the rest is delegated or subconscious (such as his morning and his evening routine). Check out our post on how to create and utilise a habit  to learn more about this specific area. Now to the point. Since our subconscious mind runs our lives, it is crucial for us to know how to control it (a.k.a. how to programme out brains). Doing this is definitely a matter of habit and repetition, as I’ve already mentioned above. Changing the way you think, changing the way you feel and the way other things affect you is completely in your power. You only need to change one enormous part of your life that you might not even be aware of.

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Watch how you speak… to yourself!!

The number one thing that affects your subconscious mind incredibely, which nobody really realises, is your mouth (inside your head). All day, it runs and runs and never stops. Everytime you think about something, it goes off. Why is it so important to control it? Because, as it is mentioned earlier, the only kind of things it can speak now is negativity. This is too boring, this is too salty, this is too cold, this is such a terrible day, this will never work.. Why do I look so weird today? I bet she/he thinks I’m stupid! Who am I to even try? You might not realise this, but this is what happens in your head all the time. And it’s not even your fault, it is the way you’ve grown up, the media you’ve consumed, the people that influenced you – the world you live in. This is all done subconsciously, it is a habit. Now what should we do about it? Your main concern is not getting rid of the negativity, but outnumbering it with positivity.

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Speak your dreams into existence

How do I outnumber negativity if it’s already there though? Instead of thinking negative stuff, you think positive. You specifically need to focus on the good things around yourself. In every adversity lies a seed of an equal or a greater opportunity. Speak what you want in life. Read the next few lines out loud (if possible shout them, it feels much better then):

I am me, nobody can put me down. I am grateful for what I have in my life. I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am grateful for (fill in what you’re grateful for). I am in the process of succeeding. I am growing every day. I am developing every day. I am making it happen. I am (fill in your aspiration). I am (your aspiration). I am (your aspiration).

I bet it felt great, didn’t it? Do you know why? Because you yourself said it, you yourself brought positivity into that moment. Imagine that this is how you would think every day, every moment, every second. Make this a habit, do it every morning and every evening. Whenever you think about a negative thing, speak out two positive things to outnumber it. You are in control of that. You can take the charge. You can start looking for positivity to outnumber the negativity that has grown in you. You can do it. Make this a habit, make your subconscious mind accept that your life is wonderful, full of positive things.

Now back to the start. As you start seeing the positivity in your life, watch your actions change. Your actions will change as a result of the way you think. You will feel better and you will do better. This is the power of the spoken word.


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The second step towards your first workout milestone

You’ve gone through the first introductory routine successfully. You now have the habit of working our 3-4 times a week. The routine has become easier, the excercises have become a piece of cake. What should you do now? Whenever you feel like what you’re doing is too easy, to light, you need to step up your game. Make things more interesting by adding some reps, changing some excercises or making the step towards the next progression routine. You never want to stagnate because you make things too easy for yourself. Let’s take a look at the routine below. This is the second step out of the 6-7 step progression plan to muscle-up (an excercise that separates you from beginners).

The only two things you need for this workout is a pull-up bar and a dip-bar in your local public park. If you can’t find these, make sure you turn on your creativity and look for some horizontal and parallel bars that might be good for substituting these two. Before you start, always warm up and after you finish, always stretch properly – an injury is the worst nightmare as it slows down (sometimes reverses) your progress, it negatively impacts your mentality and it is simply very, very annoying. You don’t want that! The warm up and stretching don’t need to be special in any way. A standart run around the block, some lighter upper body movements and quick 20 sec stretches should do the magic. The step from the first routine to this might be a bit big as it is your first increase in the difficulty of your workout, but that is exactly what you need. Push thorugh, don’t give up and make it happen!


The information in this post comes from our many years of experience and uses the routine structure from Bar Brothers Groningen as I personally used their routines to get to my first muscle up.


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Our blind belief in fixed qualities and its largest cause you need to avoid

Many people have believed and still do believe that they have fixed qualities that they were born with. In short, they possess the so called “fixed mindset” we’ve talked about in our previous post. A very good example is Jack. Jack went through his primary school years without a scratch. He got straight As all along the way to high school. In his mind, he can not fail. He is simply fit for school, he learns fast as hell and he doesn’t even need to put much effort into studying. Most teachers “marked” him as a “genius” or as “one of the smartest kids they have seen“. This would seem pretty amazing to most people, simply because that is the way traditional education makes us think. We assume that there are smart kids like Jack, who have no issues in school, and then we assume there are less smart kids, who will end up doing some worse paid job due to their poor performance in school. What is the issue? The issue is that we think that once you are marked as smart, you are smart and that is what you are praised for. You are not praised for your efforts, your hard work or your progress, which is the important part of success we should focus on. This article thus looks at the way we praise our friends, our partners or our kids and talks about what we might want to improve to ensure their better personal growth.

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Ever since we have been young, we have been praised. It doesn’t matter whether it was just a small good job from a friend or something much bigger like a praise from your university professor in front of the whole class. We have been receiving these verbal rewards ever since we’ve made our first step or since we’ve first spoken. Undoubtedly, we all love to hear how great we are, how smart we are or how good we look. However, we do not realise that these praises do more damage to us than good. Don’t get me wrong, praising others is a very positive thing, it is the way we do it that is critical.

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First, let’s look at the reason for a praise. Why do we praise others? The reasons include increasing their confidence or providing them with an instant stream of positive emotion that makes them feel good and thus helps them understand that they have finsihed the task well. Second, let’s look at how we praise people. We usually use (often unconsiously) adjectives like smart, great, amazing, strong, fast, etc. These terms are what Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. criticises in her book Mindset. She claims that by using these fixed qualities to praise others, we unconcsciously reinforce fixed mindsets on them. Why is that? Let’s look at the next scenario to understand it properly. Jack, as we already know, is doing very good in his school years. He gets accepted to a prestegious high school in his town. The great news make his parents incredibly proud, so the first thing they do is tell Jack how incredibly smart he is (which they have been telling him ever since he started visiting his elementary). A few months later, Jack’s first high school day comes. Having been told how incredibely smart Jack is, he walks into the class very proudly waiting for the teachers to ask him a question so he can present his brains to others. Next week, there is a math test. Jack has been nailing math at his middle school, so he expects nothing less than a straight A. What he does not expect is that the high school teacher plans to challenge the kids to show them that high school is not as simple as middle school was and that they have to work even harder there. Jack gets a C. He has never gotten a C. What happened? Everyone told him how smart he is, how come he got a C? Jack, completely destroyed gets home and tells his parents what happened. What he does not realise is that the amount of work he put in the revision for his math test simply was not enough. His picture of himself fell apart. He is not as smart as everyone thought, man he is not even sure whether he can pass the next test… Where is the problem?

The problem is in the way he has been thinking about his characteristics, which is partially caused by the way everyone praised him in the past. He accepted the fixed characteristic of “being smart” and thought that his brain will automatically solve all his issues because he is smart. He completely disregarded the hard work he put in to get where he is, he completely disregarded the progress he went through ever since he was in his elementary. Why did that happened? One of the major causes is the way he was praised.

We need to think about the way we praise others and start focusing on their progress, growth and development and on the efforts they have put in to overcome their issues. Instead of “you’re so smart”, say something like “man you’ve put so much effort in, you made it happen” or “you’ve grown so much since last time, lovely progress”. What is the difference? The difference is the nature of what you praise, more specifically what message you put forward. Instead of praising the person’s fixed traits, focus on the flexibility of his character, focus on the way the person changed or developed. What this will do is that the person you are talking to will receive the message that the work he has put in is the source of his success, which indirectly tells him that if he wants to succeed, he needs to work hard and grow. What you have just done is you have helped the person shift his mindset to the growth side, which is where we all want to be.

Praising Jack’s progress would have helped him understand nothing else than his failure was due to the way he prepared for the test  and that he needs to find a better one next time. It would not have made him feel worthless, but rather motivated to get pass the challenge in front of him.


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