Essays & Confessions/Work/Life Balance

Why Creating An Environment You Thrive In Matters More Than Setting Goals — & How To Start

By | Wednesday, December 19, 2018

We thrive on progress. Instinctively, this is how we’ve continued to survive: becoming faster, smarter, stronger, and working towards the achievement of an identifiable endpoint.

It’s never difficult to pick a destination to head towards; the struggle lies in the engine of the vehicle, the difficulty of the route, and our abilities to navigate ourselves there. We can select all the beautiful places that we’d like to go, but if we’re driving a car that has its gas light on, we can barely keep our eyes open, and we’re stuck in rush hour moving a mile a minute, it can feel like we’ll never get there.

It’s time to turn our attention away from the finish line, and more on all of the things that contribute to us getting there. That starts with creating an environment that will help get us anywhere we want to go.

Step 1: Build a Healthy Body

Health is the true source of wealth. If we’re lucky to have been born and remain able-bodied, we’ve struck the biological jackpot. Before the planning, the strategizing, the dreaming, we must ask ourselves one simple question: Am I as healthy as I can be? Of course, health is an ongoing state, dictated by our ongoing decisions relating to diet and exercise, but all successful people are aware of how important it is to treat their bodies with love and respect, since it provides them the clarity and strength to tackle life’s intimidating obstacles.

Before you get carried away looking at the map, double-check that your car has enough gas, oil, and windshield-wiper fluid to get you there.

Step 2: Develop a Resilient Mindset

No journey is as straightforward as we hope. There are detours, unforeseen challenges, and sometimes we realize on our way to our destination that we’re no longer in reaching the destination itself! In short, there are many things that we simply cannot plan for. This is where a resilient mindset comes in.

Step 3: Create a Detailed Plan

As much as it would be nice to jump in the car, decide you’re off to Vancouver, and pull out of the parking lot, it requires a little bit more prep work than that. At the very least, you’ll need to map out the streets and highways you intend to take and whether, for example, there are any toll-roads that’ll necessitate some cash or change. At the most, you’ll also want to figure out where you can safely stop when you need a break, retire for the evening, and if there’s any interesting sites or restaurants you want to see along the way.

Sometimes, it makes sense to take the quickest route. Other times, it might make sense to make the most of the travel and take in as many wonderful experiences as possible. It’s the same with goal-setting. For example, your goal may be to lose a certain amount of weight. Do you want to adopt the most extreme diet and exercise regimen to get there the quickest? Or do you want to experiment with a few diets and workout programs in order to see what’s the most sustainable in the long run?

Step 4: Start With Patience In Mind

Now that you’re ready, the last, and perhaps most important, piece of advice to remember is that it always takes longer than you think. Instead of hoping for clear skies and a traffic-free road, anticipate rainstorms, bad drivers, and traffic congestion. The difference between an enjoyable and a painful journey is the gap between your expectations and the reality of the situation. Before you start, close the gap as best as you can.


Remember: A well-built car, experienced driver, detailed map, and a patient mind can reach any destination. Create an environment conducive to success and you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve and how often those achievements come.

Jennifer Chan is a lawyer and blogger. You can find her at where she focuses on connecting the dots between work, money, and happiness. She resides in Toronto, Canada with her girlfriend, full-figured rabbit, and a deaf & blind cockapoo.

Image via Unsplash

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