How to Stop Saying ‘I Get It’ and Actually Achieve Your Goals

the secret to achieving your goals

Do you ever feel like you have the most incredible opportunity in your lifetime laying right in front of you, but for the life of you can’t seem to achieve your goals and  get the thing off the ground?


You’re pumped and you’ve gathered all the necessary tools to get started.  You’ve

  •  Read all the right articles
  •  Listened to some great webinars
  •  Gone to conferences
  •  Hired a consultant, and
  •  Bought an online course or two,


But still . . . Nothing. Is. Happening.


Death By “I Get It” How to achieve your goals


I’ve written a good bit lately about being stuck, being distracted, and fearing getting started (and those are all familiar and related thoughts) but today I want to talk to you about what I think might be the biggest killer of dreams; death by “I Get It.”


Here’s what I mean.  How many times do you read something, skim it (confession time here folks!) and say to yourself, “Oh yeah, I get that.”  Or ask someone for advice (maybe even pay for it) and say to yourself, “I totally get that.  I knew that already.”


And how many times do you take all that you “get” and do nothing with it?

How many times do you tell yourself you know what your next steps forward are and yet you don’t take a single step forward? Not one.  (Far too often I would guess, if I were a guessin’ girl.)


If you’re constantly reading, learning, being advised, but it doesn’t change you, then it’s wasting your time.  (Tweet it!)


Seth Godin, posted “I get it” last week and it inspired this whole post. Here’s a quick peek-

  Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 11.20.04 PM


There is an actual business principle that exists, developed by Stanford Business Professors Jeffrey Pfieffer and Robert Sutton, called the “Knowing-Doing Gap.”  It simply states that there is often a big gap between the knowledge of something and translating that knowledge into action; a gap that seriously, adversely affects a company or an individual from achieving their goals.

The gap between what we know we should do and what we actually do is what defines our success or guarantees our failure. (Tweet it!)

So how do you move from sitting in your kitchen in your PJs with a laptop to actually getting off your butt and doing something with all you know?  How do you start building a business and living the life of your dreams? How do you close the knowing-doing gap and  achieve your goal?


3 Steps to Conquer Fear and Achieve Your Goals 

1. Recognize Your Fear 

Every time I say “Recognize your fear,” at least one person says to me, “But I’m not afraid, I just . . .”

  • Have too many ideas
  • Don’t have any ideas
  • Don’t have any money
  • Don’t know how to start

  What people say when they are really afraid

What people say next is, “I’m afraid to take the next step.”  When people feel any of these barriers combined with normal daily stress, it leads to getting stuck and feeling afraid.

It’s okay to feel fear. Never assume the fear you feel is necessary a negative thing. Feeling fear means you are human. I recognize that taking the first step, the next step, the big steps, the small steps . . . it’s all scary.


We’re all scared.  Congratulations, you’re normal.

Now get going!


2. Recognize That Self-Motivation Won’t Get You There

The advice of visualizing success and giving yourself pep talks is a huge waste of time. You probably won’t ‘feel’ motivated anyway and then you’ll feel worse that you aren’t motivated. It’s a common pattern that makes achieving your goals even harder!

How do I know this?  Look at all the people in the world who have tried to lose weight. (Myself included!)

  • They know what to do. (Eat less, exercise more)
  • They know how to do it.  (Don’t buy junk, go to the gym)
  • They know why they should do it. (Live longer, be healthier)

And they start off great, but they very often don’t succeed.  Why?  Because eventually, their KNOWLEDGE of what to do outweighs their actual motivation to DO it and to keep doing it.

What happens next? You guessed it- feeling overwhelmed and eating nutella out of the jar. (Oh, wait, that’s just me. Nevermind..) 


3. Recognize That You Have to Have Accountability

The single greatest way to accomplish anything is set up some accountability for yourself.  What Pfeiffer and Sutton discovered in their research was that people who have accountability to achieve their goals often will actually reach their goals.

And when it comes to selecting the people who will hold you accountable, it most likely cannot be a friend or family member, because when the going gets tough (and it will) you’ll feel a lot more freedom to get mad at them and quit. If it is a friend,  you need to choose someone who you don’t want to let down and won’t get all passive aggressive or judgy about your progress. (Not as easy as one would think.)


How to find a *something* that will keep you accountable:

Option 1-  Hire a pro

Hire a coach to hold you accountable to reach your (business/fitness/health) goals. 

It’s critically important that you if you do hire someone you click with, someone who understands your goals and can help you achieve success.


Option 2- Try Tim Ferriss’s recommended strategy

Join HabitForge and make your goals public and give yourself real positive or negative outcomes depending on how you do.

Maybe you want to force yourself to workout daily and lose 10 pounds by January 1st and if you don’t you will donate $500 (already set aside) to a cause you think is reprehensible.   (I mean seriously, that is serious motivation)



your turn So if you want to close your knowing-doing gap, you have to recognize your fear, understand that your own personal motivation will eventually wear out, and have an accountability system in place.


What do you think?

Do you have another strategy to overcome the “I get it” tendency and actually make progress?

What have you tried in the past to keep yourself motivated?

Would you ever make a public goal to force yourself to stay motivated?

Is that crazy?

Is it comforting at all that we all have such similar tendencies? I know I’ve skimmed articles and thought. “Yeah, I get it” a gazillion times.


  • lucrecer

    Stop consuming information until you actual take action is a strategy I am implementing right now. It is SO easy to get fat off of knowledge and never do anything with it. I am starting to consuming less information by staying offline and not getting sucked into Twitter-Facebook-Google+ hell and instead choosing to put in action what I am learning. For me, it is all about focus right now.

  • Jen Welton

    I see so many trying to keep up with the “store-next-door” that takes their focus off their desired end result. So they’re frazzled info-consumer’s with no focus and no GO.

  • Jay Oza

    Good post.

    I always tell people to start simple. The best way to get started is by writing a blog. It is amazing how many people will not get started.

    What is easy to understand is not easy to do. Writing blog looks easy but it is hard. You need to develop discipline.

    People do “get it” but don’t “get going.”

  • Mylene

    I fell in this trap more than once and it’s really not easy to escape ! Now I try to schedule actions for everything I’m learning. Doing is really when the true learning is happening ! But it’s scary.
    Thank you for this great article, will share on Twitter !

  • Carol Jones

    Different application, but I find this to be true in my spiritual life as well. If I continually stuff my head full of biblical knowledge and never apply even the simplest of concepts, (like loving my neighbor better, or caring for widows and orphans), then I’m just a fat head full of knowledge and void of any life change. Life change (in any arena) is what makes us better human beings. Love it, Alli.

  • Alli Worthington

    Yes, exactly!

  • Alli Worthington

    Great way to phrase it, Jay. Absolutely.

  • Alli Worthington

    When I was in school I had to write everything out to really learn it. Something happens in adulthood and we forget that taking action makes all the difference. I love that you schedule actions for what you are learning. So smart!

  • Alli Worthington

    The bermuda triangle of social media distractions. :)

  • Harry @ GoalsOnTrack

    Great post! In fact, when we say “I get it” too quickly, we don’t really get it after all. Our action speaks louder about who we are than our words. To truly get it, we must turn it into action, and then results. One reason we tend to get side tracked when trying to reach a goal, is because we tend to judge the action by the result we get, but in many cases, we can know the result only AFTER we take the action, not before.

    For example, if we want to lose weight, we tend to judge whether it’s working or not by judging how much weight we have lost by taking the action, but in reality, we can only see the result if we continue taking the consistent action for a long period. Just like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing, then you will have the power.”

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