Focus On the Gain, Not The Gap
August 28, 2021
When it comes to Goals, there are two ways you can track yourself on how you are doing.
The First approach is where you measure and track how far off you are from your goal. Here, you track the “Gap” between where you are presently and where you wish you were.
The second approach is where you measure and track how far you have come from where you started. In this approach, you measure the “Gain” in terms of where you are currently compared to your starting point.
When you see yourself in the Gap, you feel as if you have achieved nothing. Even though you may have made some progress, you feel dejected because your goal looks very distant. You think in your head, ” I don’t think I am cut out for this. Even though I am putting in so much effort, the endpoint seems so out of reach..”
This is why many of us struggle when it comes to learning any new skill or taking on a new challenge. It could be learning to speak French, playing a musical instrument, pursuing Physics at a high level, running a marathon, or reducing weight-you start enthusiastically, motivated by your Ideal, but very soon, you lose steam, looking at how big the “Gap” is between where you are and that Ideal you have in your head.
The Gap And The Gain
I came across this powerful idea of The Gap And The Gain in a Book with the same title by Dan Sullivan, a renowned management guru, and a leadership coach. The core idea of this book is that as humans, we all tend to always look to the future, and that is where all our goals and ideals reside- in the future. But, unfortunately, the future is not a reality yet. It is just a projection in our mind, and therefore trying to measure progress in terms of where you are at present with a goal in the future is an exercise in futility that will always leave you unhappy.
Therefore, the only way to measure progress is backward, against your past, where you use the reality of where you are currently and measure back to your start point. There is a challenge with this approach, though.
From our childhood, it is ingrained in us to focus on our future and not look back into our past.
When we start measuring our progress on any goal by looking at our start point, we will always feel energized and enthusiastic because we always see ourselves in a positive territory being in the Gain.
Here is a mental model for goal setting and goal tracking. Always look forward to setting ambitious goals for yourself but measure backward when it comes to getting a true sense of where you are currently and how far you have progressed.
When I use this mental model, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction because I am in the Gain on every goal of mine, without exception !!