How many times have you had the wish to start a positive habit but just lacked the motivation to sign up to a gym, or to start eating healthier? Or conversely, to stop a bad habit but found it just too hard?

You might conclude that you just lack the motivation, and maybe one day in the future it will come to you. But that doesn't need to be the case, and it certainly doesn't need to come down to such a thing as motivation.

How to build the right habits

According to the strategy of environment design (by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits), you can make good habits easier and bad habits more difficult by changing your surroundings.

For example – to start reading more, instead of waiting around for the day that you finally get the urge to go to the library and read some books, order some books and place them around your house so that it's easier to just pick up a book and start reading.

Or to start working out in the mornings, prep everything you need the night before, e.g. your clothes, water bottle, weights.

Or to stop using your phone as soon as you wake up, put it on the other side of the room when going to bed, or even outside the room.

Or to stop watching TV, put the remote away in a drawer in a different part of the house – so that you only watch TV when you really want to.

The principle at the centre is the same – your environment is more important than your attitude.

This concept was quite an eye-opener for me, because it's one of those things that you subconsciously acknowledge on some level but don't really know how powerful it can be; for example, you know that having the right friends is important because you know the effect that people have on you. The same idea applies to things as well.

If you're struggling to build the right habits or to let go of some bad ones, I'd definitely recommend trying out this theory. And if you're interesting in more concepts of the like, do pick up Atomic Habits by James Clear!