The Difference Between Knowing and Doing

Did you ever think about the difference between Knowing the right thing and Doing the right thing? 

There's no shortage of examples that I can pick from in my own life - and if we’re all honest, most likely in each of our lives. 

We know we should eat healthier. 

We know we should go to bed earlier. 

We know we should stop doom scrolling social media.

We know we should be saving more. 

We know we should exercise consistently. 

We know we should stop watching the daily stock market movements. 

We know we should get that [term] life insurance policy. 

We know we should reach out to that friend on our mind. 

We know….

And yet we don’t do.

It’s - obviously - not from a lack of knowledge. I think it’s from a lack of discipline. Call it the Discipline Gap. 

Knowledge only takes us so far. Discipline is what takes us from Knowing to Doing. 

I’m not qualified in this area to speak on a professional level - so I’ll speak on a personal level. When I notice a gap between what I Know and what I Do, my first instinct is to make an excuse. (Just being honest here.)

And in the times I do make progress in closing the gap, it’s often because I dwell on the Why behind the What that is in question long enough to take action.

In the 2 months leading up to our Florida trip, I exercised every single day. 60+ days without missing a day. 

I say this not to boast - I’ve admitted before how embarrassingly bad I am in this area of life - but as a case study. Why did I all of a sudden close the gap between Knowing and Doing regular exercise? Because I was going to a sunny and warm destination where I’d most likely be wearing a bathing suit - and I wanted to look at least somewhat in shape. 

Vanity - I know. (Again, just being honest.)

But here’s the thing: I’ve never felt more energized, never felt more focused all day, and I don’t remember ever having better consistent nights of sleep. My initial Why was strong enough to close the gap between Knowing and Doing. And once I experienced the non-vanity results, it provides enough of a Why motivation to keep up that discipline. 

I could pick less vain examples - and I’m sure you can in your life as well - of circumstances where this is true. 

A health scare motivates us into eating healthier. 

A friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness that pushes us to finally get that life insurance policy. 

We run a retirement projection to project future cash flow which motivates us to save more. 

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need extra motivation. But we don’t live in an ideal world. 

Knowledge is good. But it’s not complete. 

Interesting Resources

Dallas Willard 
"Understanding is the basis of care. What you would take care of you must first understand, whether it be a petunia or a nation." 

Jesus Was the God-Man, Not the God-Superman
6 min read | Christianity Today
I'll admit that this title grabbed my attention and had me a bit on alert for click-baityness, but this is a really solid read, especially this week (Holy Week) and this day (Good Friday). 

"Doubt is a real part of human experience. And Jesus was so committed to entering humanity that he dared to enter human doubt as well."

Whoa. My brain is highly analytical, and increasingly cynical. While still a general optimist, I find myself defaulting to doubt in many things in life. Investment pitches, NFL game projections, people's promises, and even elements of my faith at times. I don't believe I'm alone, and the authors of this piece would argue Jesus also doubted - and was still without sin. 

Growing My Faith in the Face of Death
15 min read | Tim Keller (The Atlantic) 
Tim Keller has probably been a top 3 influencer in my own faith journey, and his writing here as he faces a likely terminal illness is - well, it's well worth the quarter hour to read it. Linking in to the above article, here - a seeming pillar of faith - admits how his pending death has challenged his faith. He writes about the difference between head work and heart work (which actually relate, in a way, to my main writing this week). And as we came off of our extended Florida trip and had some serious post-trip blues hanging around, these lines really hit me:

"To our surprise and encouragement, Kathy and I have discovered that the less we attempt to make this world into a heaven, the more we are able to enjoy it."

If You Play With FIRE, Don't Get Burned
5 min read | Of Dollars and Data
While this article mostly talks about FIRE (financial independence, retire early), it's much more broadly applicable. It shares a pretty sad story which I had come across before, and it hits on some really important topics of why our jobs are more than just income providers to us. But what I really liked was Nick's point below:

"The issue seems to be that some of those on the FIRE path knew what they wanted to retire from before they figured out what they want to retire to."
What's something in your life that you Know but that you don't regularly Do? 

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