By Eric Olguin, Valued Contributor

Self-control seems like the holy grail of anyone who wants to take control of their life. Whether it’s getting in shape, making more money, or just waking up on time, people look at self-control as the only way to achieve those things. While self-control is important, it’s a fool’s errand.  

Self-control is a finite resource. Exercising it all day and every day is exhausting. What if you could achieve all your goals by running on autopilot? What if you could get what you want by accident? The way to do this is not by controlling yourself, it’s by controlling your environment. 

Controlling your environment

Controlling your environment on a basic level means making bad habits hard to do, and good habits easy to do. If you spend too much time watching TV, unplug it. Move it to the garage or a storage closet. Maybe bring it out when you have guests. Want to floss more? Move the floss from an obscure cabinet in your bathroom to your desk or bedside. Some people who suffer from cell phone or social media addiction control their environment by replacing their smart phone with an old school flip phone that can only send calls or texts. 

Controlling your community

Some habits are much harder to break. You CAN remove all the junk food from your house. But if that habit is deeply ingrained, you might just hop in your car and buy some snacks when the craving hits. A more dedicated way to control your environment is by choosing who you surround yourself with. If you have a partner or someone you live with, maybe ask them for help, or if they have similar goals, make a pact or agreement to avoid junk food together. You can also join groups to stay accountable with your goals. Running groups, book clubs, alcoholics anonymous. These are all groups of people who meet up and keep each other accountable with the habits they want to form or break. 

Self-control is important, but maintaining perfect self-control is impossible. If you really want to control certain aspects of your life, you must control the environment in which you live, and who you choose to spend time with. That is how you influence yourself into making the changes you want.