An epiphany came to me that seemed so obvious.
I was reading Keith Ferrazi’s legendary book on networking, “Never Eat Alone,” for the second time. The first time through, I enjoyed it, and while I took to heart the broader themes, I’d done a woeful job of implementing most of the practices it preached.
So maybe I just need to read it again, I thought. Refresh the memory on the concepts. Create a clear list of action items. Start anew. This time would be different.
While I went through this exercise, I had a realization.
The author is the best in the world at what he does. He’s been a CEO and started his own company. Attended some of the most prestigious schools in the world. Met some of the most successful and fascinating people on the planet.
And he’s telling me exactly how he did it. And how I can do it, too.
All I have to do is follow his directions!
Think about that. At this moment, you can spend $15-20 on a book written by someone who’s the best in the world at what they do. And in those pages, they’ll tell you exactly how to do it.
Losing weight…finding love…starting a business…finding fulfillment…anything you could want.
At least one person (probably many, many more) out there is an expert in any of those topics and has addressed it in a book or some other form of media. You could have that information today if you wanted.
But in all likelihood, two things will happen instead.
One, you’ll never even get around to buy the book. If you do, you could very likely let it collect dust on your shelf, unfinished.
Two, you’ll read it but never implement even 10% of the advice. Like what happened to me above.
Why do we do this?
We all have hopes and dreams and aspirations. And people that have already done what we want to do are out there to readily share their knowledge.
But we don’t follow their directions. The information is out there on how to lose weight, make more money, be happier, etc.
Yet, we do nothing.
I came across a quote on Twitter this year and that really struck me:
“Nothing will haunt you more than knowing what to do and not doing it.”
We all know what we should do to get what we want. If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Is that overly simplified? Yes. Will it at least get you started? Yes.
And after you get started, this experts are out there to take you to the next step. And the steps after that.
But most of us will never take that first step. We’ll never take advantage of that wealth of resources awaiting us for things we want to do.
The problem is that a bunch of information isn’t enough. We need a process for implementation.
Years ago, Tufts University invited me to lecture during a symposium on obesity…
Lecturer after lecturer offered solutions for America’s obesity problem, all of which revolved around education. Americans would be thinner if only they knew about good nutrition and the benefits of exercise, they told us. Slimming down the entire country was possible through an aggressive public awareness campaign…
When it was my turn to speak, I couldn’t help beginning with an observation. “I think it is fascinating that the other speakers today have suggested that education is the answer to our country’s obesity problem,” I said. I slowly gestured around the room. “If education is the answer, then why hasn’t it helped more of you?”
There were audible gasps in the auditorium when I said this, quite a few snickers, and five times as many sneers. Unsurprisingly, Tufts never invited me to lecture again.
And this is where we find ourselves now. We have more information on how the world works than ever before. But the vast majority of us have no idea how to put that information to good use.
So people go their entire lives unable to do the things in life they say are important to them.
Year after year, we say that health is a priority, yet we never stick to a consistent diet or exercise plan.
We say we want to start a business and work for ourselves, but remain in soul sucking cubicles.
We say we want to save money for security and the ability to retire comfortably one day, but we run a balance on our credit cards anyway.
Why do we torture ourselves like this? Why is it so hard for us to do what we actually want to do?
That, my friends, is the question that behavioral psychology is learning the answer to.
We have more information at our disposal about how our brains work than ever before, but we’re only scratching the surface of how to use this to better our lives.
The goal of a small group of people studying the behavioral sciences, behavioral economics, neuroscience and related disciplines to uncover how to disseminate this knowledge in a way that allows all of us to lead better lives.
Since I’m a huge nerd and read this stuff for fun, my aim is to learn and share that knowledge.
Why don’t we do what we want to do? The answer is slowly but surely being unraveled.
So here’s to no more broken promises to ourselves.