“Actually, I am on healthy diet, but it’s so delicious!”
“Actually, I should have said no when my colleague asked me for help – now I’m behind again with my own tasks. But just say no?”
Do they sound familiar to you, those “actually – but” sentences? They are a pretty safe indicator for you experiencing the Mind-Behaviour-Gap.
What is the Mind-Behaviour-Gap?
It’s the gap between what you know and want to do and what you actually do.
This phenomenon has been investigated for years – most recently with regard to consumer behaviour, e.g. in organic and sustainable products. For example, in a German study* 60% of respondents stated that they prefer to shop at weekly and organic markets or farms – but in 2018 Germans bought most of their food at discount stores. The Mind-Behavior-Gap is therefore a well-known phenomenon and – admittedly – hardly anybody manages to close this gap completely. Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep it as small as possible.
Why keeping it as small as possible?
Imagine you have a friend who values meetings with you as much as you do. Every time you meet, the time together is enriching and beautiful. There’s only one catch: 80% of meetings don’t happen because your friend cancels short notice. Every time you agree on a date, you are looking forward to it and then, shortly before – canceled again.
How would you feel about it?
What would you think about your friend?
How “seriously” would you take the planned dates?
And now imagine that this friend is – yourself. You know what is important to you, plan accordingly and then you regularly find yourself in situations where you didn’t really want to be.
Again, you are on the road for others and you do not do what you had in mind. You feel that this is not right and a latent dissatisfaction spreads. Most likely, your subconscious speaks to you here because it feels kidded.
The more often this happens to you, the bigger the Mind-Behaviour-Gap is, the less authentic you go through life and the more you run the risk of feeling the following symptoms:
– decreasing motivation
– increasing strain
– decreasing stress tolerance
– dwindling belief in your self-efficacy
– Feeling of the “victim role”, up to depressive moods
– loss of self-esteem
So what can you do to minimize the Mind-Behaviour gap
1. take responsibility: it is you who do not act according to your own values and guidelines. It is not the fault of the others that you do not do it, but in the vast majority of situations you have the choice of how you want to act and behave. If the phone call with your girlfriend is already too long because you wanted to do something else, then it is not too long because she talks so much – but because you have not (or not clearly enough) communicated until when you have time. And if you now think “yes but the friendship as well matters a lot to me” – all right – then we’re already in the middle of …
2. Clarity: become aware of what is important to you. Clearly separate values that “you should have” from those that really correspond to YOU. Which three values distinguish you? And with what behaviour do you implement them? How do you deal with value conflicts? What has priority? Make a conscious decision! And check this point from time to time. Stay flexible. Life changes, circumstances change – you change. Maybe in a few years something else is important to you? That’s okay! Correct. But once you have established the values, show…
3. Integrity: Keep your promises to you. Admit to yourself honestly, if it didn’t work out and think about what you have to change, so that it works out in the future (maybe something else is more important to you in secret after all?). Thus preserve your authenticity and respect for yourself.
4. self-esteem: Be worth it to yourself to stand by yourself and your values and to go your way. That’s not selfish. On the contrary, people who are at peace with themselves and rest in themselves are an enrichment for their environment! The more you are at peace with yourself, the less you “have to fight for something” – because you are no longer on the road against someone, but for yourself.
I wish you a “gap-less” week in which you succeed in integrating as much as possible of what is important to you.
*Study of the household appliance manufacturer Ritterwerk in 2018