Fresh Tri’s founder and CEO, Dr. Kyra Bobinet, recently joined Kevin McNulty as a guest on the enlightening Grow Yourself: Personal Development School of Growth podcast. In this engaging discussion, Dr. Bobinet and Kevin delved into the fascinating realms of the Know-Do Gap and the habenula, uncovering profound insights into human behavior and motivation.
Why We Don’t Do The Things We Know We Should Do
We often intend on eating healthy, exercising more, taking more self-care days…you know the drill. But why don’t we follow through on doing the things we know that we should do? This happenstance is a common issue faced by all and it is called the Know-do Gap. This gap between intention and action is caused by a tiny and newly discovered area of the brain called the habenula.
At the heart of the Know-Do Gap lies the habenula, a tiny brain region with significant implications for our behavior and it has two jobs.
- A Failure Alarm: The habenula acts as a failure alarm and we trigger it more often than we think. If we think we have failed at something, whether that be consciously or subconsciously, big or small, the habenula brain region will be triggered. This leads to the habenula’s second job.
- A Motivation Kill Switch: The habenula acts as a motivation kill switch. When the habenula detects any notion of failure, it will kill the switch to our motivation for anything that we are trying to do within that category.
Dr. Bobinet acknowledges that many of us bear “habenula scars,” the remnants of past failures that hinder our willingness to try again. However, armed with the latest scientific insights, she aims to liberate individuals from this debilitating cycle. By understanding the role of the habenula, we can begin to close the Know-do Gap and reclaim our power to enact meaningful change in our lives.
Is Your Habenula On?
Dr. Bobinet and Kevin explore the “brick walls” that we face in life. Do you feel like you can’t quite break out and claim your purpose? Do you feel like you keep trying and hitting brick walls over and over? Do you feel stuck? If this is the case, your habenula is most likely turned on and the way out is to disengage it.
Neutralizing Failure and Disengaging the Habenula
- Instead of setting a goal that is hard and fixed, set a practice or experience: Instead of setting a goal of going to the gym five days a week for the rest of your life, try setting a practice like getting healthier or moving your body more. This is a much kinder and more realistic practice and it leaves room for iteration.
- Iterate: Iteration is a tinkering approach—a process of practicing, assessing, and refining your strategies repeatedly. Consider this scenario: you set a goal to exercise more and decide to join a gym. However, as time passes, you may find yourself losing motivation to attend regularly. Rather than persisting in a futile cycle of forcing yourself to go to the gym and experiencing repeated setbacks (thus triggering your habenula), embracing iteration offers a more effective path forward. Perhaps you could try going for an evening walk instead or exploring a cycling class. By continuously tweaking and adapting your approach, iteration emerges as the cornerstone of sustainable healthy habit formation and enduring behavior change.
It’s Not One Size Fits All
Healthy habits are as unique as individuals themselves. What proves effective for one person may not yield the same results for another. This underscores the importance of iteration—an approach that Dr. Bobinet champions as inherently personalized for sustainable habit formation. An illustrative example from Dr. Bobinet’s experience highlights this principle vividly: a woman seeking to shed pounds struggled with a habitual consumption of Doritos. Through an iterative process tailored to her specific circumstances, she gradually reduced her intake, starting from one bag a day, then scaling down to five chips, eventually reaching the milestone of just one chip a day, and finally transitioning to simply licking one chip. This personalized journey led to a remarkable outcome: she successfully curbed her Dorito-eating habit and achieved weight loss. The key takeaway is clear: while individual paths may vary, embracing iteration consistently leads to enduring results. As Dr. Bobinet aptly asserts, “Iterators never fail.”
In essence, the journey to lasting change is one of iteration—a process of continuous learning, adaptation, and growth. Dr. Bobinet’s insightful conversation with Kevin McNulty serves as a powerful reminder that by understanding the inner workings of our brains, we can transcend the limitations of the Know-Do Gap and embark on a path of empowerment and transformation.
Listen to the full podcast here.