• Transformed by Spence

Motivation, is it overvalued? Does environment matter more so?

JD Gyms

It can be tempting to blame failure on a lack of willpower or a scarcity of talent, and to attribute success to hard work, effort, and grit.

To be sure, those things matter. What is interesting, however, is that if you examine how human behaviour has been shaped over time, you discover that motivation (and even talent) is often overvalued. In many cases, the environment matters more.

Let me share an example that surprised me when I first learned of it.

The Invisible Hand

Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour. We tend to believe our habits are a product of our motivation, talent, and effort. Certainly, these qualities matter. But the surprising thing is, especially over a long time period, your personal characteristics tend to get overpowered by your environment.

Imagine trying to grow tomatoes in a blizzard of a Winer. You can be the most talented farmer in the world, but it won’t make a difference. Snow is a very poor substitute for soil.

There is no evidence that the farmers of Europe and Asia were more talented or more motivated than farmers in the rest of the world. Yet, they were able to spread agriculture 2x to 3x faster than their peers. If you want to maximise your odds of success, then you need to operate in an environment accelerates your results rather than hinders them.

Designing A Better Environment

Here are three strategies that would promote success:

First, automate good decisions. Whenever possible, design an environment that makes good decisions for you. For example, buying smaller plates can help you lose weight by deciding portion size for you. A study found that people eat 22 percent less food by switching from 12-inch dinner plates to 10-inch plates. Similarly, using software to block social media sites can help overcome procrastination by putting your willpower on autopilot.

Get in the flow and utilise your time more effectively, you are more likely to go to the gym if it is literally on the way home from work than you are if the gym is only five minutes away, but in the opposite direction of your commute. Whenever possible, design your habits so they fit in the flow of your current patterns. I personally live very close to my place of work at JDGyms – Wolverhampton and so am able to pop home or go next door to Home Bargains or Iceland should I need anything here are a few example:

1. Protein? – Pre-cooked chicken and fish from Iceland provides adequate replenishment for my amino acid stores.

2. Caffeine or pre workout? – Home bargains sell Monster energy drinks, freeze dried coffee and water to shake up and drink on the go!

3. Towel? – Home bargains.

4. Healthy fats for a snack? – Iceland sell nuts by the bucket!

The list goes on… everything is within close proximity if you are willing to be proactive in what you do.

Subtract the negative influences; what do I mean by this? Well in the work place, studies found that productivity increased up to 40% when the managers removed the use of mobile devices and televisions from within a production lines sight. The staff would have 15 minute breaks every 4-5 hours instead of being able to watch day time television from 09:00-17:00 whilst supposedly working.

My point being?

– You can also reduce the negative influences in your environment. For example, you can make it easier to avoid unhealthy foods by storing them in less visible places. (Foods that are placed at eye level tend to be purchased and eaten more frequently.)


The Luck Of Environment

We are quick to blame our environment when things go poorly. If you lose a job, it’s because the economy sucks. If you lose a game, it’s because the officiating was bad. If you’re late to work, it’s because traffic was insane.

When we win, however, we ignore the environment completely. If you land a job, it’s because you were talented and likeable. If you win a game, it’s because you played better. If you’re early for a meeting, it’s because you are organised and prompt.

It is important to remember that the environment drives our good behaviours as well as our bad ones. People who seem to stick to good habits with ease are often benefitting from an environment that makes those behaviours easier. Meanwhile, people who struggle to succeed could be fighting an uphill battle against their environment. What often looks like a lack of willpower is actually the result of a poor of environment.

Life is a game and if you want to guarantee better results over a sustained period of time, the best approach is to play the game in an environment that favours you. Winners often win because their environment makes winning easier.

To summarise, ensure you are training in a gym where you’re happy and feel comfortable. Ensure it is within a good area and that the environment is one by which you can thrive as a person.

My workplace at JDGyms – Wolverhampton offers a £2m state of the art new gym to The Peel Centre. Seriously stylish, seriously affordable …. No contract membership; £19.99 a month.


If you’re local and need somewhere to try out with a Sauna, classes, weights to play with, a multifunctional RIG. Then get in touch now for a Personal Training consultation where we can goal set, and by-pass the motivational factors by putting you in the CORRECT environment!

Thanks for reading folks,


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