1: One evening, author Ben Hardy had a realization.
He and his wife, Lauren and their six children lived in Orlando, Florida.
“In my mind, we would live in Orlando for the next 2–3 years until I reached a certain place in my career, and then we’d move on to the next place,” Ben reflects in The Gap and the Gain, which he co-authored with Dan Sullivan.
He was “here” but wanted to be “there.”
Ben realized he’d been thinking this way since they bought their house. “When we moved here, in my mind, it was a temporary spot,” he remembers thinking.
He shared his reflection with Lauren and asked her what she thought would be best for their family.
“She felt it would be best if we stayed here in Orlando until our 9-year-old was 18 years old and finished with high school,” he recalls.
“As I contemplated that idea, it felt like an eternity. Could I really stay in this house and continue doing what I’m doing for another nine years, until 2030?” he thought.
He decided to give himself permission to be 100% “here” for the next nine years. What if he let go of needing to be “there.”
An unexpected wave of emotion came upon him.
“Wow, I’d never felt so free,” he remembers feeling.
2: Ben’s initial desire to be “there” is typical of many of the entrepreneurs who begin the Strategic Coach program, which Dan co-founded.
“Many high achievers have a hard time being ‘here,'” the authors write. “It really doesn’t matter where they are now and how great their lives are, they continually wish they were ‘there.'”
There are two ways we can measure our progress.
Strategy one is to compare where we are now against our ideal. “Ideals are like a horizon in the desert,” the authors write. “No matter how many steps we take forward, the horizon continues to move out of reach.”
This way of thinking is called “the GAP.”
Or, we can measure our progress backward from where we started. When we take this approach, we are in “the GAIN.”
When Ben wanted to be “there,” he was living in the GAP.
“When we’re in the GAP, we’re desperate to get ‘there,’ because we’re trying to escape being here,” they note. We attempt to force things to go our way. We “impulsively try to fill an unresolved ‘need,'” the authors write.
Ben’s decision to be 100% “here” for the next nine years moved him into the GAIN.
When we are in GAIN, we no longer need to be “there.”
Does this mean we don’t have huge goals and aspirations? Of course not.
But now we’re playing the “long game, which means we LOVE where we’re at now, and we love where we’re going,” Dan and Ben write. “We stop seeking other people’s approval of how we’re living our lives. We stop trying to measure up to other people’s standards of success.”
Playing the long game allows us to fully embrace being “here.” Yes, we dream big dreams. And we are also 100% happy with where we are.
We are here and love being here. We “appreciate everything and everyone around us. We’re genuinely happy. We also love what we’re working on and building. We’re committed and focused,” Dan and Ben note. “We’re not trying to rush to the next place to fill some unresolved need.”
When we are doing something we love to do, we are intrinsically motivated.
“In psychology, grit is defined as passion and perseverance toward long-term goals,” Dan and Ben write. “Intrinsic motivation is also related to having high levels of grit, whereas extrinsic motivation is not.”
3: In Ben’s case, his “here wanting to be there” insight changed his life and that of his family.
“As a highly motivated and goal-oriented person,” he reflects, “I’ve had a hard time truly appreciating my progress and being present to my life and family.”
Learning about the GAP and the GAIN from Dan, he realized he was living much of his life in the GAP.
“I felt I needed to get to the ‘next achievement’ in order to be happy and successful,” he notes. “This obsessiveness and external motivation had led to a great deal of achievement, but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t pursuing my most aligned goals and priorities. I was still trying to prove myself. I was too disconnected from myself and those who mattered most to me.”
Deciding to measure his progress backward and live in the GAIN changed Ben’s life.
In the GAIN, we live our lives based on “intrinsic motivation and harmonious passion, which creates flow and high performance. When we’re in the GAIN, we’re completely free and happy right now.”
Reflection: Looking at my life right now—what are all the GAINS I can think of? What about my life and work do I love? What is my long game? How would my priorities change if I were playing the long game?
Action: Journal my answers to the questions above.