The Gap Between Knowing & Doing


Knowing and doing. The difference between these 2 words is just a few letters, but the gap between the two can be as wide as the universe. We know we should make healthier life choices.  We know we should exercise, we should eat healthy foods, we should get more sleep.

There’s really not any excuse these days for not knowing that exercise, healthy eating, or enough sleep is important now, and to promote lifelong health and well-being. If you don’t know these things then spend some time googling the benefits of exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. Unfortunately, knowing is not always enough.

The benefits of regular exercise have been proven over and over, yet the reality in the US today is that 60% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of exercise, and 25% of Americans do not exercise at all.

In addition, the evidence of eating too much high fat, high sugar food is indisputable, yet we continue to do so. In fact, more than 2/3 of America is overweight, over 33% are considered obese, and the numbers continue to grow each year.

Adequate sleep is a key factor for a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more, yet Americans are burning the candle at both ends and not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a day.

We know a lot of good things. The problem isn’t that we don’t know, and we can’t un-know once we know, but there are still many people standing on the knowing side of the canyon, looking across at doing, but never quite able to take the action required to get there.

Think about it. You’re standing on one side, knowing what you should be doing; even envisioning a life putting all of this knowledge into practice, but leaving the side where knowing feels pretty good, and making it to the other side where doing is actually a part of life, means you have to take some sort of action to get there. Actions turns knowing into doing. It’s actually one of the greatest gaps in life; the gap between knowing and doing; the ‘action gap’.

I asked a few people this question, “Why do you struggle with converting knowing into doing?” I won’t name names, but these top 6 honest answers were pretty consistently given by all.

I lack motivation.

I am a procrastinator.

I can’t afford it.

I don’t have enough time.

I actually like unhealthy food and don’t want to give it up.

I enjoy sedentary activities such as video games, reading, watching TV.

Can you identify with these “excuses”?

In case you are expecting to read on and find an easy way to cross the gap and keep those new year’s resolutions past the third week in January, stop now. I can’t give you motivation. I can’t make you start. The gap has nothing to do with money. We all have the same amount of time. I can’t make you like or enjoy something. I also can’t make you unlike something. And I certainly can’t make you keep going! ALL of this is on you.

What I can give you are some tips to help you address the gap. These tips have helped me over the years so thought I would share.

Tips to help you move from knowing to doing.

  1. Ban New Year’s Resolutions. Seriously, it just doesn’t make sense that we wait until one day of the year to decide to change something, or get better at something.

These “resolutions” don’t work because they’re often impulsive, trendy, and not very realistic for where we are in life. We put all of our eggs into one basket; some pretty major eggs, and then we can’t carry the load more than a couple of weeks. In fact, only 8% of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions. Instead, practice daily determination and solution seeking. What needs to change today? What do I need to learn today? What can I improve on today, and how? Wake up tomorrow and repeat.

  1. Eliminate the word should from your vocabulary. Think about it, whether exercise, general health & fitness, diet, if you say “I really should do that,” you’ve already lost.
  • I SHOULD eat breakfast.
  • I SHOULD get more exercise.
  • I SHOULD take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • I SHOULD go to bed earlier.
  • I SHOULD eat more fresh vegies.
  • I SHOULD drink water instead of coke.

Basically what you’re saying is “I SHOULD…BUT I AM NOT GOING TO!”

Each time you use the word should you set yourself up for defeat. Remember, we already established that you know what needs to be done to live healthier. You give up before you begin, inserting should into every excuse. Should stands in the gap, preventing the jump to the other side. Eliminate the use of the word should.

  1. Eliminate the word can’t from your vocabulary. We conveniently jump to “I can’t” without exploring how we can. Better yet, start using the phrase “I will” in place of “I can”. But first get rid of “I can’t”.

Is it really impossible? If it is impossible that is one thing, but I doubt that’s the case most of the time. We jump to “I can’t” because we don’t want to do something, or we have a more pessimistic mindset. By saying you can’t do something, you begin by doubting yourself and submitting to defeat before you even give it a chance. You’re making that gap between knowing and doing much wider.

With the right mindset, a positive attitude, and a real desire to change, the only thing holding you back is yourself. From now on there is nothing you can’t do. Now begin thinking of what you will do.

  1. Find someone who stands on the other side of the gap. I’m not necessarily talking about an “exercise buddy”, although they’re great.

I’m talking about someone who has banned the words should and can’t; someone who inspires. Someone who talks less and just does. Someone who has made the jump and now lives on the other side of the gap. Someone who always comes up in conversation as “the one with a positive attitude”. Someone to encourage you. Find that person and ask them to reach for you. Now you’re ready.

  1. Create a practice; a routine or habit that works for you. Think about the areas of your life where you seem to be successful, or mostly successful; routines that work. Whether you enjoy these routines or not, you know they’re important, so you have a plan in place to make it work!

You have a set routine for getting to work every day. Your alarm goes off, you get up, make coffee, eat breakfast, drive to work, and so on. That’s a system; a plan, and because you have this plan, you hardly have to think about it, and you manage to make it to work on time most days.

You have a routine for paying bills (and if you don’t then you probably also have an action gap in this area of your life as well). You have a routine in place for grooming, cleaning your house, doing laundry. In fact, my routine for loading the dishwasher is so set that it irritates me when my husband loads it ‘incorrectly’. Do you know what I mean?

We have lots of routines or systems in place. All involve doing; action. There is rarely a gap between what we know and what we do. Even when we don’t want to. Even when we don’t look forward to it. I’m not particularly fond of doing the dishes, but if left undone I have a mess…and no clean dishes. These routines help us to accomplish certain goals. Basically, we have automated our thinking and our actions to promote positive habits that work for us. And once it’s a habit, it’s a habit!

So what if you applied this same philosophy to healthy living? Don’t make it a choice. Determine that eating healthy, exercise, sleep are vital to life, and create routines that are a “necessary” part of your day. Actually, this is why programs like Beachbody® and Nutrisystem® can be so successful. They are systems. What if you created your own system; a routine you own that you custom make for you. As your routines gain momentum and become habit, they will begin to happen naturally. I will go so far as to say that you will look forward to them; even enjoy them. You won’t feel good when you skip them.

A couple of examples. I have a set routine for getting to the top floor of the parking garage after work. I take the stairs. 10 flights up. I have a routine each morning which involves stretching and weights. It has become part of my day. I have a routine for walking the dog, getting in my runs, going to bed at night to ensure enough sleep, going to the grocery store, eating healthy meals, and so on. I don’t always stick to my routines because life also involves holidays, vacations, a change in work schedule or weather, and so these routines are interrupted at times. But during these interruptions, I begin to miss my routines. These are my systems. Yours will be yours. And that’s key.

Our brains love patterns; love habits. Unfortunately whether good or bad, anything you do over and over is something your brain will latch onto, so the key is to set up healthy patterns; healthy systems. As soon as your brain catches on you then have momentum is on your side. That’s the force that drives you towards daily successes.

Action is key! You can’t stand on one side of the great divide and wish for and hope for. You also can’t stand there thinking about how you should make the jump, or why you can’t. Your new systems cannot be successful unless you have first banned the words should and can’t.

Here’s the part I love. Instead of standing on the KNOWLEDGE side of the gap and looking over at what you should be DOING, you will soon find yourself standing on the DOING side of the gap totally pumped because you did it! You put action behind what you know!

Now you become the inspiration. You are the one standing on the action side reaching across to others who are struggling to cross the gap.

Join me. You don’t have to wait until January 1. Begin today. I know you can do it. Determine you will and you will!


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