Environment vs. Willpower

[Note: In case you’re just joining the saga, this is a follow up to this post, in which I asked people for interest in something I was thinking about creating. The overwhelming response was “Yes! Do it.” It seems like something like this has been missing for a while.]

It takes me a long time to learn things.

Repetition is the mother of learning I think they say (whoever “they” are).

But it seems like I learn things at a lower pace than most people. It takes a while for me to get calibrated to anything new.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I really need to take the time to dig down and absorb the root of what I’m learning. I’m not sure.

It’s always been this way, ever since I’ve been a little kid. Even though I did very well in school and picked things up quickly, whenever something was really important or interesting to me, it took a lot of time for me to really “get” it.

And I’ve learned to accept that.

No big surprise here

It’s really not a big surprise that the Willpower vs. Environment lesson took me a long time to get, as well. Actually, it’s still something I’m understanding each day.

I’ve come to realize that environment nearly always wins the battle over willpower. The first is a bedrock structure, the latter is a finite resource.

When I set out to quit my job and get paid to do what I love, I knew I had to change my environment if I wanted to stand a chance against the gravitation pull of the 9 to 5.

And, it wasn’t easy.

After all, there was only so much I could change. I still had to work in an office where people didn’t support entrepreneurship. I couldn’t afford to simply quit. And at the time, my wife was very skeptical of whether or not this would work (she’s changed her feelings about this, of course).

But even back then, I knew it was important for me to create a supportive environment if I wanted to increase my chances of a successful escape.

I began by connecting with people in the comments of blogs, sending them emails and reaching out to others who sympathized with my plight. I knew there had to be people out there that felt the same way as I did.

That led me to start my own blog, and it made making those connections a bit easier because people started coming to me.

And all of this I had to work persistently to bootstrap. Unfortunately I wasn’t born into a community that believed this was possible. (Now it seems like second nature.)

But not everyone always understood

A lot of the people I connected with didn’t understand what I was trying to do. They thought that I had a “good job” and couldn’t understand why I wanted to leave.

I had to wake up and recommit myself to move in the direction of what I wanted, despite the inertia of my current reality.

Every day I had to resolve myself to resist the gravitational field of that reality.

Each day I decided to focus my intention on work that I loved and working for myself.

Eventually, it worked.

And throughout the years I’ve come to realize just how passionate and expansive this community really is. Just the other day I was having a conversation with my massage therapist, and out of nowhere he confessed to me that he’s been dying to start his own online fishing community.

I’m always surprised by how many people out there want to create something on their own terms and decide for themselves in what ways they’ll serve the world.

I never would have dreamed this community would grow to what it is now, and it keeps expanding each day.

And it often blows me away when I realize that we’re just getting started.

Looking back at the key to success

When I look back I realize that one of the biggest keys for me was making the decision to create a small alliance of peers that support me in my mission. To really take the reigns and decide for myself what type of environment I wanted to wake up in.

When you cultivate an environment that supports your greatness, and holds a space for you to be vulnerable and do things in a big way, you tap into an energy greater than you have access to on your own.

It’s that collective melding of energy (or joining forces) that creates something really powerful.

It’s got me thinking about how so many people don’t have access to this type of environment. Or they’re not sure where to start in order to step into their greatness.

So, I’m thinking about creating a free resource for you. It will help you with creating a private council that stops at nothing to support you with your dreams. It will also show you how you can tap into the wisdom and knowledge of the group to make bounding leaps forward in your life and work.

Most importantly, you’ll start to feel a bit less alone.

This resource kit will likely include:

  • The central transformations necessary for stepping into your greatness
  • How to identify the tribe you need, and how to know who you should include in your private council
  • The keys to an environment that makes success almost inevitable

(The final contents of the kit will ultimately be decided by you, since I’ll be asking you for your feedback.)

The truth is, when you create an environment that supports you it’s hard to not succeed.

But, I only want to create this if there’s enough interest. I’m thinking I’ll create it if around 500 or so people are interested.

Here’s what I want you to do

If you’re interested in this resource kit, enter your email below and click submit.

Also, if you have any suggestions for what I should include in the kit, please leave a comment. It would help me a lot.

Looking forward to sending you this!

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30 Comments on "Environment vs. Willpower"

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This sounds like it could be a really great resource!! I’m not really sure what else to add, but maybe that’ll come later on.


Great post. I had always considered a lack of will power a personal flaw to overcome. I hadn’t considered the role environment plays. As for the resource kit, may I suggest something on creating a mastermind group? I’ve tried it before but struggled to get value out of it as our businesses were in different stages of growth and I felt much further along. On that note, I’m also looking for a mentor…thats proving difficult so some direction here would also be valuable. Thanks for the post.


I would like to know your opinion on some of the LOA material. A lot of whats out there right now is hype and hot air, but reading “think and grow rich, as a man thinketh, and science of getting rich” have helped me tremendously my business.


My comment may not be apparent about how its relavent to the topic of the blog… so I’ll say that the majority (over 50%) of the mastermind groups out there study this material as the main source for changing to an abundance mindset.


I’m going to say ditto on the mentor. How do you build a relationship with someone who could ultimately be of help – when also not paying for this relationship (because if you are paying, is it really mentoring? I could be wrong)


This is so true. One area of my life that I have under control is my diet. Since I love to shop for food and cook and I enjoy cooking I always have a healthy and delicious meal at hand ready to eat in a few minutes even when I travel. I’ve never been overweight and I don’t obsess about calories. If I could apply these skills to create a supportive environment that would help me achieve big goals in other areas of my life I’d be set. Great post and yes I’m interested!


Thank you, Jonathan. As I have said before on these pages, I came here looking for a community. The one I’ve been affiliated with has melted almost out of existence, and no longer provides the support I want. And specifically regarding your post, my line has been that I can make enormous changes, but it is like the work of a glacier, deep and slow.


@sunagape We welcome you here, you’re in good company. :)


Hey Jonathan –

I can really identify with the beginning of this post about how it takes you a while to really “get” something. I had begun to feel like I was the person like this, in our “in with the new, out with old” fast-paced culture of today. I really need to sit with things and fully digest them to have a complete understanding. Thank you.


@rcvane Glad that you can relate. I think there’s a lot to be said for taking things slowly and really experiencing them.

True words Jonathan. I remember the first time I talked to Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA where he asked “how many people that do something similar to what you want to do are in your town?”. I told him I haven’t found any yet. Often times my wife askes me to help her with stuff saying “you’re not doing anything anyway”. I explain it takes time to get these things off the ground and you don’t see any tangible benefits at the beginning. It might look like you’re not doing anything. But I keep chugging along. And it’s not easy… Read more »

Jonathan–great start. I’d add something about setting up systems to keep yourself motivated and accountable. I have a day job, too, and it’s all too easy when things get busy to set the longer term stuff aside “for now.” Anything to keep that momentum going, even just a little, would be much appreciated.


Great post, great resource idea. I’d love to have a way to connect with other people that are part of the same “tribe” that also use your kit.


Excellent post. The duality of trying to strike out on your own and also relying on a salary makes it difficult to stay motivated. Especially when your work peers dont have access to, or have never felt the need to tap into their own creative, nurturing, energizing space. This resonated with me, “Every day I had to resolve myself to resist the gravitational field of that reality.”

BlissFlow Coaching
This is great info Jonathan! You really are representing the New Masculine, and also the new way of living on purpose! Outlining the steps of making responsible change is so valuable for people, I’m going to share this with my Coaching clients! When I woke up and realized I wanted to live on purpose and get paid to do it, I quit everything and sat in my home office with no clients and barely any connections going, “okay, now what?” As the bills were still coming in :) It took some back and forth with the 9-5 planet to find… Read more »

I agree. Community and support is essential to our success. I know this all too well. I struggled finding support when I launched my own business. I faced a lot of told you so’s when it failed. Now I find shaking heads, and are you crazy questions when I tell them I know what I did wrong and plan to try again. The support I find is in a community online. People who have been there and done that. That’s why I know what I did wrong. That’s how I learn what I could’ve done right.

Tanja @ Crystal Clarity
Great post, Jonathan – I can’t tell you how much this resonates for me. I know when it comes to exercising, I *can’t* rely on willpower – I have to find something I inherently love to do (why make myself miserable, right?), but then also create an environment where I just automatically do what I’m “supposed to”, rather than having to decide over and over again whether or not I’m going to do it *this time*. Plus finding a community of people who love what I’m doing as much as I do over on the Daily Mile has been huge… Read more »

Jonathan, your thoughts on environment certainly have proven true for me. I am blessed with a wife that supports me no matter how crazy my ideas may seem to her. Without this support, I know that I would not ba able to overcome the gravitation of the 9 to 5 world!
Because of this, my suggestion on content for your kit would be materials designed to help create a supportive environment in the home in order to create a strong foundation and to provide a place of refuge as the battle against the 9 to 5 is waged.


I’ve written a 6 part series on this, called Rocketships, Or Cars – The Art Of Friends? And I would LOVE to see a kit expanding on this. http://spiritsentient.com/rocketships-or-cars-the-art-of-friendsIn the kit, I`d like included:-Exercises guiding me on How To Build My Team (I can do a tremendous amount by myself), but I don`t WANT to anymore.

You rock Jon!


I love this Jonathan! I need so much help with reaching a supportive an energizing environment, for all my jobs as an artist, as a mom, as a housekeeper and as a promoter and event planner for parenting lectures…after writing this I realized how multipurpose I am ;) You gave me that word to describe myself, and I am very grateful for that.

Jonathan! I’ve read your post on the mastermind 10-15 people (the only way to get coaching from you), and I get the feeling you must already have friends in your mastermind who are capable of doing this, on a smaller scale and willing and ready to do it on a volunteer basis. So you could technically set up a half dozen of the same thing you are asking for pay, but free or less cost on a private forums with less accessibility to yourself (you would give the possibility of this, but no guarantee). This will help you in the… Read more »

I’m finding this article incredibly relatable. My environment and my willpower seem to be pulling me in two different directions. I really want to be involved with people who also share my passions..but sometimes I think I over-commit….

A couple years of heavy duty networking in search of an 8-6 job (does 9-5 still exist?) made me break out of my comfort zone (I’m a total introvert) to meet new people who can support my ventures. Now I find it very easy to reach out to “strangers” and make connections and find support. I also find that I’m in the very tiny minority in doing this. People can really set themselves apart by taking the initiative to reach out and say hello. Maybe include something in the kit like challenges to get out there and meet other people… Read more »
I agree that our enviornment greatly effects our ability to break free and do something different. Especially if the thing we want to do is different than what everyone else is doing. It takes a lot of courage to do your own thing! But It’s hard to come up with your own thing when you are stuck in a box of conformity and that is what a lot of our environments turn into. Finding a group of like minded people is extremely helpful, and makes any transition much easier. But I find that any real transition has to come from… Read more »
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
I sense some good ole’ Clay Collins Pre-Sell action going on here. Right on! I’m glad you’re onto rolling out a product that’s what your audience is looking for. It’s been book learned upon me that learning doesn’t take place until your behavior changes. That’s when you can really say you know and understand something. And one of the only ways you can validate your ideas and moves are with people you trust because your eye will never see itself. It can see a reflection of itself but it can never look at itself. So having a group of people… Read more »

[…] Jonathan Mead recently wrote a post about creating a success-oriented environment, and how this practice is far more powerful than simple willpower. […]


I could really relate to this! wish I was there already but there is hope yet!
Lyn (http://inspirationescape.blogspot.com/)


I could really relate to this! wish I was there already but there is hope yet! Lyn (http://inspirationescape.blogspot.com/)


How about a illuminatedmind official forum? I would love a place to go too and as a bonus everyone has this website in common. It would be a great online environment. :)


This reminds me a lot of Barbara Sher’s emphasis on how success is very very rarely achieved “alone” – we needs support, help, teams.

Creative ideas on how to find like-minded folks and, especially, how to create the *structures* (environment, again!) for effective “teamwork”, building community (despite the drawbacks of mostly- or only-web-based communication) and building “culture” in such communities would be welcome.

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