I’ve frequently mentioned that you need an environment that supports you at achieving your goals, an environment where you fit in perfectly. To prosper in life, you need to be a part of something that feels like home and natural to you, and enables you to prosper, develop and grow. You need an environment with ideal conditions for you to thrive.
To better understand what ideal conditions really mean, let’s look at the environmental variables you can choose from and even change if necessary. It’ll help you to clarify what ideal environmental conditions mean for you and how to build such an environment.
There are two ecosystems that you spend most of your time in, both consisting of space and relationships:
- Personal environment, with your home, spouse, family and friends
- Business environment, with your office, co-workers and stakeholders
The better you know yourself, the better you understand what kind of an environment you need to flourish. It’s good to first do a personal SWOT analysis and reflect on what you like in your current environment and what you liked and disliked in your past environments. Based on that, you can make validated assumptions on which environmental elements support you and which drag you down. You’ll also get an idea of what to test and what to change. It’s the typical Agile and Lean Life process of searching, experimenting and then executing.
Building an environment that supports you is an important part of your life strategy. Now let’s look at some ideas on which variables to test, experiment with and validate when it comes to your environment.
Your personal environment
Your personal environment is your private space where you spend your free time, usually with people who are the closest to you, meaning your spouse, family and friends. There are some major decisions you have to make regarding your personal environment. Even if you don’t make any decisions, life makes them for you. But it’s always better to be the pilot of your own life.
When doing an analysis and setting goals for the personal environment that would perfectly support your personal goals, you should consider the following elements:
- Country that suits you best – if there is an option to move, otherwise optimize within
- Political and macroeconomic stability of the country and the level of bureaucracy
- Metropolis / City / Countryside – which supports your personal goals best?
- Local weather and climate (number of sunny days, seasons…)
- Available infrastructure (for you to commute, travel…)
- Access to healthcare and social security
- Opportunities for your personal evolution and growth
- Access to (healthy) food you like and easy access to sports you want to do
- Cleanliness of natural resources (air, water etc.)
- Access to formal and informal education for you and your family
- How close/far you are/need to be to your primary family
- Support environment for the elderly population (you’ll get old one day as well)
- Is this the right environment for you to find the right spouse and build your family?
- Does the environment support your hobbies and things you do for fun?
- Access to nature and pets (if important to you)
- Cultural life (art, music etc.) (if important to you)
- Access to technology and information
- Safety of the environment
- Dominant religion
- House / Flat / Other – the one that you feel best in and can afford
- Interior decoration (including visual aids supporting your goals)
- Tidiness and cleanliness of your surroundings (order, creative chaos…)
- Other elements
As you’ve probably figured out, you can’t have everything. Thus you have to choose your priorities and rank every factor based on how important it is to you. After knowing which elements of the private environment are important to you, you can analyse which cities support you best.
- For some, living in New York city centre is optimal
- For others, living in a small European country in the countryside is better
- For someone else, a safe city is perfect, just big enough to have enough variety in cultural life
A factor that’s even more important than the space where you spend most of your free time are the private relationships in your life. Private relationships include your spouse, your primary family, your secondary family, your friends, your acquaintances and your neighbours.
By far the most important relationship you have in your life is the one with your spouse. Your spouse can make you or break you. If you don’t fit together, if you don’t support each other and have common goals, life is much harder and more complicated. The problem, of course, is that because the people we love are the closest to us, we know their weaknesses and can consequently most easily hurt them when we aren’t satisfied with ourselves. But you should never take your own problems out on your partner.
In order for you to have a healthy relationship with your spouse, there must be lust and there must be respect. There must be a clear picture of who will do what, who will invest what and what each one expects out of the relationship. If you complement each other, even better. The foundation of every good relationship is communication. If you want to communicate well with your partner, you must know what you want and explain what your expectations are.
Here are some elements you should be clear about with your spouse (making a persona can help a lot):
- Basic demographics (age, gender…)
- Basic psycho-sociological traits (religion, culture…)
- Must-have values and traits (intelligence, integrity, health…)
- Key characteristics (kindness, persistence…)
- Deal breakers (smoking, cruelty)
- Goals (building a family, )
When thinking about these elements, don’t only consider what you want, but also what kind of a person would have to be by your side in order for you to thrive the most. It’s not only about finding people you feel good with, but also about surrounding yourself with people who push you to prosper and develop as quickly as possible.
For example, I know how to make money, but I’m lousy at keeping money. Having a spouse who is frugal is a big value added for me. I know I have to eat healthy, so having a spouse who also eats healthy is very important for my optimal health. If I had a partner who loved to bake and cook unhealthy food, I would definitely get fat. Like ultra-overweight.
You should do the same analysis for your friends, acquaintances, neighbours and other people you meet in your personal life. Ask yourself:
- Which country would be optimal for my personal goals?
- Where would I feel the best and prosper (city, space…)?
- Who is the optimal spouse for me (lust + respect + daily life + being your best)?
- What kind of a friendship would help me flourish the most?
- Which visual and other aids in my home environment would motivate me the most?
Your business environment
Most of us usually spend even more time in our business environment than at home. Much like you need space and people who support you in your private life, so you need the right environment for your business life and goals. The rule is quite simple. The more ambitious you are, the more you need the right environment that supports your ambitions.
Business hubs are usually the right business environment to support great ambitions. They are the geographical areas where talent, technology, tolerance and transparency are concentrated. It’s an environment where the flow of people, money, information and other resources is the greatest.
Here are some macro-elements of a business environment you should consider:
- Political and macroeconomic stability
- Market and job market trends
- Economical (in)equality
- International integration
- Are there enough opportunities to build a career you want and to earn adequate income?
That is a macro-level view. On the micro level, you have many other decisions to make. Let’s look at some important factors that can support you or stifle your ambitions:
- Industries that fit your talents, industry trends and opportunities
- Employed, self-employed, business owner
- Size of the company (micro, small, medium, big)
- Level of specialization
- Opportunities for promotion
- Level of stress and uncertainty
- Individual / Pair / Teamwork
- Responsibility level – decision-making or more of a consulting role
People you spend time with are also very important:
- Values and competences of your boss and other superiors
- Company values and values of your co-workers (should be similar to yours)
- Stakeholders you’re dealing with
And last but not least, don’t forget about your office:
- Cubicle / Private Office / Co-working space / Working from home
- Technological equipment
- Visual aids (like Kanban boards)
You should consider which business environment would allow you to deliver the most value, develop your competences to the full in the long run, achieve the position and the renown you want and, of course, achieve your financial goals. If your business environment doesn’t enable you that, you’ll have to either change it or lower your ambitions.
I worked in a business environment where I felt really great, had the same values as my co-workers, the market trends were right and so on. It was in the venture capital industry, just before the financial collapse in 2008. The market trends enabled me to progress quickly, I loved what I was doing and I was managing a satellite company of a big investment bank which helped me build my own brand. In my early twenties, it was the perfect spot for me.
I also worked in a business environment where the market trends were against me, I didn’t have the same values as my co-workers, I did tasks that were no challenge to me, there was a lot of politics, and so on. The end result was that I was completely unhappy, my progress in life was slow andI ended up having health issues.
Never forget. Markets always win.
And even more importantly: The culture of the environment you function in eats your strategy for breakfast.
That’s why you need an environment that’s adjusted to your life strategy and goals. That’s why you need an environment where you can flourish and prosper. What is the optimal business environment for you?