I recently came across this teaching – there’s a book on it called The Gap and The Gain, by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. It helped me realise that the reason I often experience deep resistance, anxiety and stress is because I’m always looking at the gap between where I am now and where I want to be. And this gap always seems so big and far. It’s almost un-closeable. It’s like I’m on a never ending quest to this unreachable ‘image of success’ in my head. And that makes me feel horrid.
In the book they mentioned something that shook me:
But also made a lot of sense: most people experiencing extreme distress, mental health issues and even becoming suicidal, are not nobodies with nothing to give or live for, they are actually often the smartest, most ambitious people. They are often entrepreneurs and real go-getters. They are the ones that are so very hard on themselves. And that causes them much resistance, distress and suffering.
We’re always measuring ourselves against what we have not yet achieved
Targets not yet met, ambitions not yet realised, promotions not yet achieved, salaries not yet gained, houses not yet bought. We measure ourselves against others who are doing ‘better’ and against future versions of ourselves that we have not yet become.
This triggers all our wounds of being incomplete, not enough, insignificant, imperfect and unworthy. And it’s a never ending game because we’re always chasing a moving target as our visions continue to evolve and as other people’s benchmarks, demands and standards of success that we might be aiming for, frequently change. This is a recipe for disaster.
Want to know the recipe for success?
Always, measure, backwards.
The answer is not to stop dreaming, stop envisaging, stop aiming, stop wanting or stop working – it’s to change the way that we take score.
Instead of looking ahead at how far you have to go, look back at how far you’ve come. It’s that simple. This will turn you from resistance to resilience, from fear to love, from struggle to strength.
You can do this for yourself in any area of life – your career, health goals, lifestyle, new skills, relationships. You can do it with your kids and family when reflecting on your day over the dinner table. You can do it with your team on work goals. You name it, you can probably measure it backwards.
Take note – this isn’t about being all ‘Pollyanna’. It’s not about ignoring reality and negative experiences and situations, it’s not about toxic positivity. So beware of falling into that trap – make sure you acknowledge those things too.
Make this a habit in daily life
If you measure backwards often enough and really get momentum with it, you will start to see more gains, you’ll see markers of progress that you were overlooking before. As you focus on these, you’ll be much more optimistic, grateful, and appreciative of yourself and others. You’re experience less distress and have more optimism, gratitude, wellbeing and resilience.
I am still working on this myself (at the time of writing this). It’s a hard habit to break for me – looking ahead, seeing the gap and feeling miserable? I’m very good at that! I grew up in a particularly harsh environment where I was criticised constantly – so the idea that I am never enough is pretty well baked into my psyche. But with that being said, we can all change our own mindset and consciousness (that’s the business I’m in) and so, I am keen to make a habit of measuring gains not gaps.
I hope you too, will give this a go. Start now if you like, write down your gains in:
- The last year
- The last 3 months
- The last week
And when you’ve logged them, don’t forget to celebrate! Because you are doing great!
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