Updated: Jan 15
I have never been a morning person.
Even when I was at University and we had to prepare exams or projects for long hours, I preferred to stay awake after the normal day, although that would mean going to sleep early am rather than waking up early.
That habit continued when I started working at IBM. If we could have a flexible work schedule (i.e. we could start from 7:30 to 9:00), I always chose to get in as late as possible (in that case, it was 9am) although I had to stay long hours in the late afternoon (or early evening, sometimes).
Once you get a habit, you have to be very determined to change it, otherwise, you will find tons of reasons justifying you cannot.
And studies show that the environment you are in plays a critical influence on the habits you adopt. You think you are choosing them but the reality is that you are, somehow, adopting other people's habits without noticing.
When I started my career at IBM after University, I was not a coffee drinker. Maybe an occasional coffee from time to time, but, definitely not daily.
I joined an office where my colleagues had, after many years of working together, repetitive patterns of behavior. And I'm only referring here to patterns of 'physical behavior': after getting into the office and starting the desktop computers, there was a gathering at the coffee machine located in a nearby corridor, where topics of discussion were pretty standard depending on the day of the week or season of the year. Pretty much predictable.
After two hours, the routine repeated itself. And two hours later, we headed to lunch together where we used to have a coffee after lunch. And two hours later we had the coffee machine again and, sometimes, even two hours later, at the end of the day. Not mentioning some 'courtesy' invites after some meeting where you wanted to have an informal one-to-one talk with some colleague.
What did that mean? I naturally embedded in my daily routine (and diet) around six coffee shots a day. No wonder why I kept going to sleep late and the morning routine of getting into the office as late as possible was reinforced.
Did I deliberately choose that behavior or diet? Definitely not. I rather embraced it as a normal pattern followed by the people I was surrounded all day long.
Had the people around me have been following a healthier routine or diet, had they have been entertaining conversations about possibilities, change, inspiring success stories, self-discipline or personal challenges instead of complaints, self-delusion, frustration, and victimhood, I would have developed a totally different mindset about taking control of my life and the courage to take action rather than conforming with the status quo and compromising with the comfort zone.
I'm not trying to blame anyone about why I did what I did. I have just realized, after many years, why I behave the way I did and how you, regardless of who you are or what you do, are exposed to the tyranny of the external environment and its impact on what you do, how you do it and, most importantly, why you think you cannot do anything different.
But you only discover this fact AFTER you are out of the 'sedative environment' you are today. Whatever it is.
The environment you are in is really powerful. Much more than what you think. You believe you are taking your own choices, that you are free to decide what you do.
It's all an illusion.
It looks like you are free but, eventually, you are not doing, consistently, anything different than the environment which you are operating in.
If you don't believe it, do an experiment by yourself.
Decide to do something different to what your environment accepts as the 'status quo'. Do something different that you think will help you personally have a dramatic and positive change in your life.
In the beginning, you will be laughed at, criticized and even ridiculed. Eventually, after your persistence, you will find yourself naturally leaving that environment and starting being surrounded by people with the same thoughts, patterns, and behaviors. And you will slowly and effortlessly create a new environment that will better support your dreams, values and, goals.
Following our simile before, start getting earlier into the office and stop drinking coffee, and see the changes that come to your life. Not only positive physical changes but also new and expanded vision, dreams, goals, and attitude.
But you are the one who has to take the initiative. And everything happens after small and consciously made changes, and keeping them long enough for the magic to happen.