Elon Musk is proof that willpower doesn’t make you successful. Here’s Why According to Science

We’ve got it all wrong about Elon. It is generally believed that what earned Elon Musk the top spot for the world’s most productive man is his superhuman will—a robot-like mental disposition that enables him to avoid temptation, minimize distractions, and achieve a level of discipline. Allows to execute what will make the most hardcore. Navy Seals look like kindergarteners.

Elon Musk is not famous because of these things. His achievements are not tied to his will. According to scienceEffortless self-control (the term we use for scientific will) is consistently unrelated to goal attainment. The same is true of Musk himself. So, how does he do it? And how can you do that too?

willpower is overrated

What really matters, and what we need to focus on in our personal and professional lives, is the availability and prominence of temptations in our work environment. that means we should be choice architectcurating our environment in a way that nudge us Towards our goals, and away from anything.

By deliberately and simply surrounding ourselves with choices best suited to our goals, we reduce temptations, becoming less cognitively exhaustedAnd thus more able to achieve our goals, especially in the long run.

how do we do it? This is where science comes in.

Select or modify to reduce the likelihood of temptations

Imagine an environment filled with everything that might distract you: your cell phone buzzing with notifications from your social media accounts; Your coworkers are chatting in the background; Your empty coffee mug is asking for another coffee break.

Which is easier: resisting each of these temptations (ie, practicing self-control) or simply not being in this environment in the first place? The former is plausible, but try doing it twice. It’s the latter that really works. it is called position selectionAnd it’s when you actively make sure that you are yourself.”arousing desire” Situation.

easier said than done? Perhaps. If you’re looking for a friendlier option, try status correction, It means exactly what it sounds like: changing an aspect of your environment to make it more in line with your goals. So, instead of leaving your phone at home (select), put it on airplane mode and hide it in a drawer for a few hours (revision).

power of a nudge

a to move There is a non-coercive, low-stakes environmental cues that slowly pushes you toward an optimal behavioral response. For example, you’re more likely to buy a piece of fruit if it’s at eye level at the check-out counter.

Want to start working out in the morning? Put workout clothes on the bottom of the bed the night before. Want to become more eco-friendly? Stick a “Take the Stairs” on the back of your door. Want to encourage your kids to recycle more? Tape a mini basketball net just above the recycling bin.

In other words, organize your surroundings in such a way that, by paying passive attention to the things around you, you are already one step closer to your practical goal.

hack your habits

It is one thing to do something good once, it is quite another to adopt it as a consistent aspect of your life. Luckily, four simple steps can get you there.

Habits are built on four pillars: cues, craving, response, reward. A signal lets your brain know that the reward is near; A longing is your prompting to act; The reaction is the action; And the reward is what you get for taking action.

How can you use this information? If you want to build a good habit: Make the signs clear; make the craving attractive; Simplify feedback; And make the reward satisfying.

Let’s say you’re feeling stressed (cue). You want to relieve stress (craving), so you get out your handy pocket journal and write down a few words about how you’re feeling (reaction). The result is that you gain emotional clarity (the reward), and writing in your journal becomes a positive trigger when faced with stress (becoming a habit).

If you want to break a bad habit, just flip up: make the sign invisible; Make longing unattractive; make response difficult; And make the reward unsatisfactory.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.