The other day my 11-year-old daughter asked me if she could have a donut for dessert. This is a pretty special treat because there is only one place in town that we buy these GF DF donuts and we don’t have them at home very often.

I thought for a moment and said, “Sure, but please take half of one since you already had a bit of chocolate earlier.”

Apparently, that was NOT the right answer!

She got angry: “This is not fair; you know how much I like these donuts and I never get to eat them.”

I was blamed: “If you told me earlier that I would only get half a donut, I wouldn’t have eaten the chocolate.”

She penalized herself: “Well if I can’t have a whole donut than I don’t want any.”

I turned to my daughter and asked her, “are you thinking with a GAP or a GAIN mentality?”

We had talked about this concept before and so she looked at me inquisitively.

I explained to her that with a GAIN mentality, she could see that she was actually gaining something (a half donut) that she didn’t currently have and very much wanted.  

But it seemed to me that she was reacting from a GAP mentality.  All that she was able to focus on was the gap between what she wanted (a whole donut) and what I offered her (a half donut) and she felt as though she was losing out.

My daughter thought about this for a minute and it must have made sense to her because she proceeded to take out a donut, cut it in half, and eat it happily.

Are You Measuring Yourself by the GAP or the GAIN?

The GAP and the GAIN is the concept of Dan Sullivan and is based on his work with successful entrepreneurs. He believes that in every circumstance you’re in, you’re either in the GAP or the GAIN.

The GAP is when you measure your progress based on ideals. The problem is that an ideal is like a moving target—it always feels out of reach. The GAP makes any form of progress a letdown. Whatever you’ve done isn’t enough because the “standard of success” keeps moving.

Gap thinking means that you are focusing on the distance between where you are and where you want to be (or what you want to have) in the future.

For example:

  • “I am not at my goal weight”
  • “I don’t own my house”
  • “I haven’t cured my migraine headaches”
  • “My baby won’t let me sleep through the night”

The GAIN, on the other hand, is when you look back and measure your progress based on the distance you have come and what you have achieved. You measure yourself against your previous self—the person you were when you first set your goals and ideals.

Gain thinking means focusing on your progress and what you have already achieved.

For example:

  • “I have lost 10 pounds so far”
  • “I have $15,000 saved towards my new house”
  • “With the changes I’ve made, I get headaches less often than I previously did”
  • “I am getting 6½ hours of uninterrupted sleep now as my baby is getting older”

Can you see the difference?

This 1-minute mental shift can transform your happiness and your satisfaction dramatically. It doesn’t really matter what the experience is; the choice is yours in how you frame it—whether in the GAP or the GAIN.

How Do You Start to Make This Shift?

The next time you measure your achievement, stop and focus on where you are now compared to where you were before. Then celebrate your gains or your progress, no matter how small! Allow your growth be the positive momentum that will propel you forward towards achieving your next gain.

Let’s Hear What You Think?

  • Can you think of an example in your own life in which you can see that a mental shift can turn a particular experience from a GAP to a GAIN?
  • Can you see a situation in which acknowledging your GAIN might motivate you to continue to make even more progress?

We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

About Debbie Steinbock, HHC

After years of being told that she had an "incurable" chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her diet to help her understand her disease, restore her body, and regain control of her health. Her personal journey has given her the knowledge and compassion necessary to help her clients take an active role in their own healing. Since starting her practice in 2000, Debbie has successfully helped hundreds of people across the country to improve their diet, enhance their current state of health, and eliminate a variety of health conditions.

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