Empathy Gaps — one of the most insidious barriers to getting hard things done

January 12, 2014 by Joshua
in Awareness, Choosing/Decision-Making, Models

If you want to change something important in your life, you’d better understand the concept called “empathy gaps.”

An example of an empathy gap is when you say in December you’ll go to the gym twice a week for the next year, that you have the fortitude to do it and will simply will yourself to do it no matter what, then find yourself in February saying you’re not in the mood and you’ll get to it later. Or you say you’ll ask that person out with confidence, but when you go to approach you lose your nerve.

An empathy gap is when you feel one way in one situation, like when you plan something and feel enthusiastic and confident, then when the situation changes you don’t feel the same emotions and motivations, like when you what you planned and feel tired or want to do something else.

I wrote a series that describes this effect, a current research area in psychology, how to avoid it frustrating and discouraging you, and how to use it for you.

Click the table of contents at left to view each post in the series. You’ll be glad you did when you find yourself doing things you only used to plan but never executed.

Long term

Planning without executing not only doesn’t get done the specific project you plan, it teaches you not to plan in the first place. It discourages and frustrates you in the long term, leading to feelings of helplessness and futility.

Planning and executing, even for small things, teaches ability, motivation, enthusiasm, and confidence. When you finish what you plan, you feel able to do bigger things next time.

Empathy gaps being one of the most important barriers to doing tasks, understanding and overcoming them is a major step in turning vicious cycles into virtuous cycles in the most important areas of your life.

Table of Contents

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