Knowledge doesn’t equal application.
Several times over lockdown myself and my friend Jane have said to each other, why are we so much better at giving each other advice that dealing with the same situation ourselves? It’s because when we look at other people’s problems we can approach them with a certain degree of dispassion that allows us to offer practical advice. When we try and apply it to ourselves our emotions challenge the logic of said advice making it harder for us to follow.
Having knowledge on something is good, generally if you are approaching a situation you want to have at least a basic amount of knowledge. Yet knowledge doesn’t take into account the surrounding factors which can cause complications and challenge even what we know to be correct.
So why is it important to acknowledge this?
By now if you read my blogs regularly you know how to lose weight. You’ve heard the words calorie deficit many times. Knowing a calorie deficit is required doesn’t make it easy to lose weight. Exercise has lots of health benefits. That knowledge doesn’t in turn make getting started with exercise easy.
Don’t get me wrong- knowledge is important. Understanding why you are doing things and how they work is vital in making sustained changes. But knowing in itself if only the first step. You need to actually apply the knowledge for it to work. It’s a bit like buying a load of lovely new gym kit. That can be a great first step to getting yourself moving, but it is only beneficial if you do actually put it on and move.
So how do you get to the application stage? I believe there are several points you need to reach:
- You need to have a reason, something that you feel strongly enough that it provides the motivation for you to start making changes. For some people this might be push factors – the doctor says you must lose weight for your health or you must lower your blood pressure, other times it could be pull factors – a dress you’d like to fit into, you want to run a 10km. Having a focus or goal can motivate you to apply your knowledge.
- You need to care about your reason. Ever tried to do something that you didn’t really care about well? It rarely turns out well, we need to care about what we are working towards – when you do something to please someone else or becasue you’re made to sticking to it becomes so much harder.
- You need to have a plan. You’ve contemplated taking action enough to formulate a goal, a reason to make a change. Now you need to plan how that change will be effective. There’s rarely just one thing you can do to work towards a goal, yet sometimes the problem with having knowledge is it can be overwhelming in deciding what you should do. Trying to do too much at once can be detrimental, so creating an action plan helps you implement knowledge with confidence.
- You need to have support to action your plan. Maybe that’ a coach / PT – someone who can provide more direction and accountability, or perhaps it’s recruiting people around you to motivate you and hold you to account.
- You need to know progress isn’t linear. You won’t see progress and change every week. You won’t hit every target when you want to or expect to. You will have weeks where you feel like you are going backwards. That’s ok.
- You need to be flexible. You might need to tweak or change your plan. Knowing what you need to do and having a plan doesn’t mean than things can’t change- you might shift your own goal once you get started or you might find something isn’t quite working. Flexibility will allow you a greater chance of creating change.
- You need to understand your own mindset. If you accept that knowledge doesn’t equal application it’ also easy to understand that wanting to reach a goal doesn’t mean you will never sabotage yourself. Understanding that you will have relapses, set backs and things won’t even go to plan but that doesn’t mean you are back to square one will help keep you on track.
If you’ve ever beaten yourself up because you aren’t where you want to be even though you know what you should be doing to get there stop.
Knowing and doing aren’t the same thing. Knowing is desirable. Applying knowledge is a whole other skill set.