The Execution Gap: Why you don’t do what you know you should do
So many people are talking about AI right now. With things like Chat GPT, it has never been easier to find answers to the questions we have. We can get extremely easy access to the wisdom of the internet (up to at least September 2021 anyway) in a meaningful way that now answers our questions. We have all the information we need. Still, we struggle. Why?
The answer, I believe, can be summarized by the ‘Execution Gap’. There is a gap between what we know and what we do. Understanding this gap can help us understand why we fail to take the actions we know we need to take. Sometimes this is referred to as procrastination, and sometimes it’s something we ‘put off’. Let’s explore what happens in that gap.
When we search for information we need, at first, we are motivated to learn what we need to learn so we can take the actions that can help us achieve our goals. We hunt for answers and solutions to our problems. Then, we get the answer. When we get the answer, there are a number of reasons we don’t use this knowledge:
- We don’t really want to get the result as we’re afraid of succeeding and the extra responsibilities that will come with that.
- We are scared of the process itself and how hard it will be or how long it will take. It involves us spending time over the next while implementing a solution that requires more effort than we might be willing to give.
- We worry that this answer might not work and we’ll be disappointed when it fails. There is some comfort in feeling that the reason you haven’t succeeded is because you haven’t really given it a go, but if you did, you would.
- We worry that we won’t be good at implementing the process and, therefore, will see ourselves as a failure.
- It’s not important enough for us to do it before we do other tasks. We need to focus on other things first, and if we get time, then we can do what we are supposed to do.
- The excitement of figuring out what needs to happen is gone and replaced with a step-by-step operational and possibly boring few steps we have got to take.
- There is uncertainty in the process, and it forces us to use more of our brains in applying the solution. This is hard to do.
So, how do we overcome this gap when these are the possible reasons it exists in the first place?
- Decide at the beginning if it is worth implementing this solution. Be real about how much time and effort the process will involve and if you are okay with the responsibility you will have if it works. If it isn’t worth it, take it off your list.
- Failure is valuable information about what doesn’t work. See the implementation as yet another part of the information-gathering process as opposed to the execution process. You are finding things out as opposed to doing something. That mindset shift can help a lot.
- Remind yourself that skills take time to master. When you implement something, you can always improve how well you do it. The key is to see this as a valuable chance to practice.
- Decide where this fits in with your priorities and only think about it when it becomes the priority. Understand the consequences if you don’t do it.
- Build motivation in the process itself. Break it down into milestones and reward yourself for each milestone that you cross. Challenge yourself. Gamify the process.
- Be clear of all the things you can be sure of along the road.
Closing the execution gap means being more definite about what you will and won’t do. When you can start to think like this, you start keeping promises to yourself better and you start being more impactful in your everyday life.
Have a great week.
P.S. If you want to learn more about how to communicate with yourself, check out the Changing Minds podcast this week wherever you listen to your podcasts as I talk about what I call Brain Prompting!