How to Close the Gap between Knowing and Doing

My behaviour never lies. I could talk about all the stuff that I would like to get done, stuff I want to do in my life, places I wish to visit. If I am not getting there then all I’ve been really interested in is being there not actually going.

Take for instance my wanting to go to the Moab music festival. According to Sunset Magazine – “With sandstone walls for acoustics, willows for privacy and river sand for a stage this is the hottest ticket of the season.” I am a jazz lover and since around 2008, I always imagined that one day I would go to this festival. After all, according to the festival’s web site, “…every September, the award-winning Moab Music Festival brings world-class musicians to stunning red rock venues around Moab, Utah for a feast of chamber music, jazz, and traditional music concerts. We call it music in concert with the landscape, celebrating old and new chamber music, jazz with a Latin flavor, and traditional music from around the globe.”

I’ve not been to this festival yet! How much more motivation do I need? Clearly loving jazz as much as I do is not enough.

Entrepreneur Jason Leister says “I wanted to be a successful musician. I wasn’t willing to do the work to get to and stay at that level. I wanted to BE there, but I wasn’t interested in GETTING there. If you want to “be” there but you don’t want to “get” there, all you’re left with is dreaming.”

Dreaming without achievement is painful. Setting a goal and not achieving it is stressful. Yet we seem to not be able to close the gap between knowing and doing.

My friend and fellow entrepreneur Jackie Nagel recently bought a study to my attention.

This study, conducted at Dominican University with 267 participants, revealed some very intriguing results. After being randomly assigned to one of five groups, participants were asked to report on their goal achievement following four weeks. Additionally, they were requested to rate the goal on the following:

* difficulty,

* importance,

* availability of skill and resources needed,

* motivation and commitment,

* whether or not they had pursued the goal before and, if so,

* their prior success.

Those in Group 1 were asked to think about what they wanted to accomplish for the next four weeks. Participants in Group 2 were instructed to write their desired accomplishment and rate them as above. Group 3 was asked to write their goal, rate them, and formulate actions to achieve their desired result. Group 4 was instructed to write their intended achievement, rate it, formulate actions, and send their targets and actions to a supportive friend. And, finally, participants in Group 5, wrote and rated their goals, formulated actions, and sent their plans to a supportive friend along with weekly progress reports.

The results? Participants in Group 5 achieved significantly more than those in all other groups and according to Jackie, this demonstrates:

1. Written goals are powerful.

2. Public commitment to achieving targets is important.

3. Accountability, including weekly progress report, is vital.

4. Planning for goal achievement is necessary.

This is not “new” news. But what is required is that we learn how to push through our resistance, remain patient and surrender to our process.

A deconstruction of the movie the Shawshank Redemption by Scott Ginsberg, illustrates this perfectly.

“Fortune favors the bold, but it frequents the consistent. Andy toted his jail cell wall out into the exercise yard a handful at a time. Which wasn’t much initially, but you have remember, he was a banker; an incrementalist; a man who understood the power of compound interest, the capacity to generate more and more value over time through slow, unsexy, but consistent increments. In a way, he was building his own body of work. Based on his daily practice of patience, delayed gratification and continuity, his art was cutting enough rock to crawl his way to redemption. Proving, that whatever tunnel to freedom you’re digging, the smartest way to do it is one spoonful at a time. Think of it as inconspicuous production. You distribute your effort into small, consistent, doable chunks. And after many, many, many hours of incremental work, you find yourself on the other side of the wall. It’s certainly not the sexiest or easiest path to success…especially in a society that promotes and rewards indulgence and convenience. But one thing’s for sure. There is no skill more underrated than the capacity for delayed gratification. That’s what sets people free. That’s what makes it possible for them to aspire to goals that others would disregard.”

Regardless of the prison you now find yourself in, you can find the key, the process …to take you to freedom. I’ve struck one and two off my list regarding my Moab Music Festival goal. Now I need to plan to get there, air fare, etc and diligently start putting aside the funds so that I can attend the festival in 2017. How much more exposed can I be, now that you all know? And finally I am going to tell my friend Nigel Wall. Because I know he’s going to hold me accountable and remind me weekly about my 2017 intention.

What about you? Remember these words by musician Pharrell “there’s a key for every door, and if you can’t find it, you can make one.”