Top performers are keen at identifying the gap from where they are today and where they want to be. Herculean effort gets poured into closing that gap.
But often that gap can feel so distant it becomes paralyzing. We lose the motivation to move forward. Authors Dan Sullivan and Ben Hardy discuss this in their book, The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success.
Most people, especially highly ambitious people, are unhappy because of how they measure their progress. We all have an ‘ideal,’ a moving target that is always out of reach. When we measure ourselves against that ideal, we’re in the Gap. However, when we measure ourselves against our previous selves, we’re in the Gain.
As a coach, I’ve found that most clients obsess about the Gap. They set an ideal for themselves that is worthy, but ends up feeling out of reach. They get frustrated by their lack of progress. They get mad at themselves. They start losing motivation and want to give up.
When I see clients beat themselves up like this, I challenge them to focus on the Gain. A simple question gets them there: “Go back to the person you were one year ago. What would that person think of the progress you’ve made?” It takes some effort, but they always are surprised by their progress. We spend time celebrating those wins and highlighting personal growth. This has enormous psychological benefits.
When we measure our progress by our Gains rather than by the Gaps that still remain, we liberate ourselves from feelings of failure. Instead, we appreciate just how far we’ve come, and that positivity fuels even more progress. It’s energizing and motivating. It’s a better way to live and work. It leads to greater happiness and satisfaction.
Negative energy can fuel you in the short term but it won’t sustain you over time. Be mindful of the Gap, but celebrate how far you’ve come.
Focus on the Gain. You’ve put in massive work to become the person you are today. Don’t lose sight of that.