#076: Why You Don’t Do What You Know [Podcast]

You've heard it before. The problem that holds you back is not lack of information. You already know what to do – but you don't do what you know.

Do the right thingThe question is why you don't do what you know? And that is what I'll be answering in today's episode.


Conferences where I will be attending and/or speaking:

Tip Of The Week

Sweetprocess lets you document all those repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time, so you can grow your team and grow your business.

Spiritual Foundations

Christ-followers get help in changing their behaviour:

  •  “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Romans 7:18
  • “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2

Feature Segment: Why You Don't Do What You Know

Why we don't do what we know we should do… and what to do about it…

The reason we know what to do but still don't do it: the pain of changing our behavior seems more real than the pain of staying the same.
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How to change:

  1. Write down what you want to change
  2. Write down why you want to change it
  3. Write down what will happen if you don't change
  4. Write down what will happen if you do change

Repeat, reward, and reinforce

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Question:   Why do you do the same thing even when you know you should change? Click here to leave your comments.


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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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  • Arturo D. Garcia

    Thanks for another great podcast, Ray!
    The problem is when we know what to do, whe think we have the solution (= the problem is solved), but we need to act to solve it. Knowledge needs action.

  • Congratulations on Romans 7. You nailed it. Sadly, a lot of folks miss this…

    • Sadly, Bud, I saw it the other way for a very long time…

  • Kathleen Thompson

    Great topic, Ray, and often not one that people tackle.

    I’ve studied this a lot by reading, talking with others, and in examining my own life. Avoiding pain IS a big motivator, and you do make a good point about how you understand and then frame the pain. From my observation, I find that two important factors are these:
    1. Habit. Once habits are formed, it is difficult to form new ones. The longer we have practiced these habits, the more difficult it is to change them. Note that I dd not say BREAK them. You do not break habits. You form new habits that eventually supersede the old.

    2. Path of Least Resistance. This is a corollary to habits. If it is easier to eat the ice cream than it is to eat carrots, we will eat the ice cream. If we hide the ice cream at the bottom of the freezer in the basement and have pre-cut carrots sitting invitingly in the fridge, we will eat the carrots. Shawn Achor shares a great example in “The Happiness Advantage”. He hides the batteries to the remote in a drawer that is far from the room with the TV, and then puts his running shoes next to his bed so that he has to trip over them when he gets up.

    If we can think of practical ways to make our desired habits easier to do, and our undesired habits more difficult, then we have a better shot at creating new habits and sticking to them. It also doesn’t hurt to share our goals with someone who will hold us accountable :).

    • Kathleen, that’s really good stuff. I specially like the Path of Least Resistance approach. Reminds me of the analogy of the Elephant, Path, and Rider from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.

      • Kathleen Thompson

        SWITCH is one of my favorite books.

  • Audrey


    Isn’t this a podcast addressing behavioral changes? I thought that you said in podcast #75 that behavioral changes don’t really work. So, why this podcast? Why the inconsistency in your beliefs? What are your listeners to believe? I only ask because this really stuck with me and made me question the reliability of the information I was being told.

    • Audrey, sorry for the confusion. This podcast does in fact address beliefs, not behaviors. I could’ve been more clear in explaining this, but here’s my rationale: we observed the behavior that we don’t want to have. Our normal course of action is to work really hard on modifying the behavior. My suggestion in this podcast is to take the other approach: to work really hard on changing the belief, and that once that is accomplished the behavior will change itself.

  • Pingback: How to Transform Your Life in Four Steps and Eight Minutes | Wesley Wiley | Success That Matters()

  • Good morning Ray! I used your four steps in my blog post today. I gave you total credit and linked back to this page. I’m still learning all the do’s & don’ts of sharing information online, so if this is more in the “don’t” category just let me know and I’ll gladly remove the post.
    That said, I loved the show, and found the advice to take steps 3 & 4 several layers deep to be especially powerful. Thanks for the wisdom!

  • Hi @Ray_Edwards:disqus thanks for including SweetProcess in your tip of the week. I am one of the co-founders and I am available to answer any question that your community might have about systematizing their business and/or creating procedures for their business.