I know what to do so why don’t I do it?
This is a question most of us ask ourselves at one time or another. We already know the how. We just can’t get ourselves to do it.
Why do we get STUCK in between the sea of KNOWING and DOING?
Why do we do this when we know better?
Why do we keep frustrating ourselves when we just know already what it takes?
The short answer is that we succumb to fear and self doubt.
However, we don’t see it as such. We blame other things such as lack of motivation or willpower. We also deceive ourselves into believing in the idea that ANY action is progress when in reality, it’s avoidance.
Sometimes we think it has everything to do with our BEING. We believe that if we get to work on our BEING, the knowing and doing will follow.
Then we go to work on being more positive, being more conscious, being compassionate, being accepting, being confident, being responsible, being self-reliant, being motivated, being unstoppable, being fearless (are you tired yet?) and STILL nothing changes!
The being becomes more doing.
Part of what we are not seeing here is the distinction that be-ing and be-liefs go together. We can’t just be someone we don’t believe we are.
When you think about it, establishing ‘good habits’ is a seemingly simple formula to follow.
GOAL/HABIT—-> LEADS TO —->DESIRE (for something or some ‘thing’) —-> LEADS TO —> MOTIVATION to attain it—-> LEADS TO —-> ACTION (consistent action, implement strategies, tools, resources) —-> LEADS TO —-> DESIRED RESULT (outcome) —-> LEADS TO —-> DESIRED REWARD (satisfaction, confidence, self-esteem, balance, sense of achievement, feeling good, more money).
Simple concept, yeah?
Easy to follow? No. At least not forever. There is no simple recipe for change. Somewhere along the way, we get stopped.
Though when we do follow that formula, it works for a certain time frame. We experience the REWARD. This gives us CONFIDENCE in ourselves and boosts our SELF-ESTEEM. Good stuff.
However, LIFE CHANGING habits require that we look a bit closer to our own personal code, if you will. We are all wired differently so there is no ‘one size fits all recipe for all of us’. Our personal code is the combination of our genetic blueprint, past experiences, physical condition, mental outlook and beliefs.
I am emphasizing beliefs because here is where we mostly get stopped. We are not trained to question our beliefs and thoughts. We don’t realize that our beliefs are ours, created by ourselves and no one makes us believe something. Other people simply provide us with information and we use that information to create the belief.
Only we can change the beliefs that might be keeping us from doing those things that we know we CAN do but we simply DON’T.
When we are stopped, we must go the headquarters of our stress response. That is our brain.
10 out of 10 times, when we are not getting the results we want and when we really look, we FIND an undistinguished FEAR. This fear shows up in a number of ways through thoughts and behaviors: negative beliefs, avoidance, self doubt, blame, anxiety, busy-ness etc.
The formula starts out somewhat like the first but then it’s interrupted. It goes something like this:
GOAL/HABIT—-> LEADS TO —->DESIRE (for something or some ‘thing’) —-> LEADS TO —> INTERRUPTION —-> UNDISTINGUISHED FEAR —-> LEADS TO —-> INACTION/ABANDON INITIAL GOAL —-> TRACK CHANGE (move on to something new, avoid, resist, react, deny) —-> LEADS TO —-> REASONS (how we explain it away) —-> LEADS TO —-> UNWANTED RESULT.
There is dissonance and this confuses the brain. We want something but then do the opposite. The brain doesn’t like dissonance therefore will create BALANCE in the form of a good and plausible STORY. This is why we end up asking ourselves, “I know what to do so WHY don’t I do it?!” (Try answering that question in your head. Pause and listen to what comes up.)
The subconscious brain knows better. It intuitively knows better but it will unequivocally defer to the unconscious programming to direct the conscious brain.
1. INTERRUPTION happens.
2. TRACK CHANGE (you put something ahead of your goal or move on to something else. This happens quite fast) More on that next week.
3. Unconscious formula you follow: UNDISTINGUISHED FEAR + REASONS (self-defense) = UNWANTED RESULTS.
Ok, good. I think this is a good place to hit the PAUSE button.
Next week, we will look at the process of interruption more closely. In the meantime, look and see how/when you get OFF track and go in another direction. This is a great place to start. Just NOTICE.
(side note: read The Knowing-Doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. Even though this book is written in the context of companies and organizations, the concepts are useful for everyday life. In particular, chapter 4, When Fear Prevents Acting on Knowledge.)