“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Knowing something is one thing. Doing can be a totally different challenge. The relationship between the two can be complex. The knowledge does not always lead to the required behaviour.
As an example:
- How many people smoke cigarettes despite the health warnings?
- How many people still eat mainly unhealthy processed foods when they know they shouldn’t?
- How many people don’t get enough exercise even though they know the long term benefits?
- How many people don’t get enough sleep?
The list can go on and on about all the things we know that serve us well, yet we don’t always follow through with action!
For whatever reason we find ourselves ignoring the very thing we know we need to do.
What causes us to behave this way?
And more importantly, what can we do to overcome this habit?
Overcoming the Knowing Doing Gap
“The greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing.”- Richard Biggs
Knowing helps us to better understand the fundamental reasons for wanting to do something.
However, just knowing about something is not enough. It’s the easy part.
We know we should be exercising and eating healthy choices. Nonetheless, we often fail to do what we know to be the right thing-why?
The answer is the doing requires a big enough motivation to make us take action. There needs to be a reward worth chasing.
To get us moving it’s important we identify a worthy reason why we believe it is important to us. Then we need to turn that belief into a commitment.
For example, we may establish a belief that staying in shape will help us live a long and healthy life. This belief will then compel us to commit to making consistently healthy lifestyle choices.
We need to connect to those things that matter to us. This means identifying what we value most in life.
Our values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live and work. They are our priorities.
It’s a fact that life becomes much easier when we acknowledge our values – and when we make decisions that honour these truths.
So what does it mean to honour your truth?
Honouring our truths
“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”-Ayn Rand
Living in or honouring your truth usually manifests through the little things you do in your life. Living your truth represents that which is true for you alone. It is not hindered by outside influences.
- If you value family, but you have to work 70-hour weeks in your job, you will feel internal stress and conflict.
- If you don’t value competition, and you work in a highly competitive sales environment, you are likely not to be satisfied with your job.
It’s important to find out how your truths look and feel for you. Everyone is different.
This means connecting to those things that matter.
Using myself as an example I place great value in nurturing my mind and body. This means I place great importance on my health and wellbeing. I seek ways to help limit stress and anxiety in my life.
There are several truths that help me honour that commitment.
I want to share my top 5 truths that might inspire you where the knowing leads to the doing. These always offer me the biggest reward every time they become part of my day.
Truth 1- There’s never a Bad Day after a Workout
A no-compromise truth for me is regularly exercising gives me an enormous sense of well-being.
I feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, and feel more relaxed and positive about myself and my life.
Also, I find it a powerful medicine for my mental health. It helps boost my mood by combating any anxiety, or stress that sometimes comes my way.
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits.
Research shows that modest amounts of exercise can make a big difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems, improve your energy and outlook, and get more out of life.
Truth 2- A Clear Work Space promotes Productivity
Another truth that takes time and effort to nurture is maintaining a clear workspace. Nothing makes me more productive during the day than a space free from clutter.
My mind is not scattered. Everything in its place gives me a sense of calm where I can think clearly with purpose and get things done.
Before I start any project I make sure my work environment is clean and tidy.
However, this was not always the truth for me. I use to find I worked in a cluttered environment. The consequences of always having to search for what I needed caused me to feel stressed frustrated and overwhelmed. There were piles of stuff I had to navigate on my desktop that limited my ability to focus.
Not surprising ‘Science is proving that emotional health and cleanliness are closer related than you might think’.
When our environment is a mess, so are we. A study on the effects of clutter found that people who felt overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” in their homes were more likely to procrastinate.
Truth 3-Meditation Always Gives Clarity of Mind.
No matter what challenge I am facing, meditation helps me shift how I relate and respond. Rather than becoming angry, frustrated or upset by a particular event, I have learnt relaxing my mind and body gives me space to observe my emotions and feelings. This allows me to respond with greater calm, and creativity in any situation.
Research has repeatedly shown that practicing meditation helps us become calmer, patient, and focused. This allows us to better cope with stress and difficult emotions. This enhances our ability to stay focused on what really matters to us in a world of constant distraction and information overload.
Truth 4- Limited Choices Makes For an Enjoyable Productive Day
I have found the fewer things I have to choose from the more I enjoy my ultimate choice.
This could be a simple as limiting my clothing wardrobe options available or making sure I go to a restaurant that has a menu that only offers a few things.
Psychologists suggest making a number of small decisions like what to wear and what to eat fatigues our brain and drains the mental power that we could be using for more demanding matters.
Our minds are not wired to cope with the excessive choices. When I have too many options there will always be a cost to pay.
Our obsession with more has been shown to contribute to bad decisions, anxiety, and stress.
Every part of daily life requires us to choose. Consider when you are trying to buy new clothes or a new T.V or even a bottle of wine. I find myself wasting time and energy in fear of picking the wrong thing. It happens every time.
Nobody has the time or cognitive resources to be completely thorough and accurate with every decision. As more decisions are needed and more options are available, the challenge of doing the decision making correctly becomes ever more difficult to meet.
Truth 5-Doing the Things we resist most is Personal Growth.
Getting things done is really about one thing: overcoming the resistance to doing what we need to do.
Honouring this truth is one of the most reliable paths to personal improvement for me. Overcoming that Internal resistance guarantees rapid growth.
An article called “What you resist persists” articulated this very well: “Learn how to transcend resistance by stepping outside your comfort zone to unlock your infinite potential.”
Fighting the resistance is something we all face every single day. Going to the gym, sitting down to meditate, decluttering the work space. But the most important thing I keep reminding myself is to just get started.
Don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Just get started. If we start each day with the knowledge that resistance will be ready and waiting, hopefully we can continue to win the battle.
Take Away Message
Human beings are not rational by nature. Instead, we have the power to justify our decisions and our actions. The knowing is not always enough to make us invest in the doing. If it doesn’t offer us a reward that we value there will be no belief or conviction to get something done.
In contrast, once we can establish what we know we believe in and what we value this then becomes our truths that guide our actions in life. They may seem vague in concept, but they exist.
What truths work for someone else, might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to pick the activities that hold most true for you. The ones that push you to become the best you!