by Michael Evans, Founder & CEO of Cogent Strategic Wealth

If hard-driving professionals like us had a theme song, it might be the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Whether you’re a rock star, or a stellar achiever in other walks of life, you try and you try. But for all your victories, your ultimate satisfaction always seems one more effort away.

After a while, you may decide discontent is simply the price you pay for getting ahead. After all, if you were okay with “almost there,” you might stop trying. And that sounds like the worst fate of all.

Believe me, I know how that feels. How else could I put in the hours I do growing my business, taking care of my family, giving back to my community, and being mindful about my health—in a global pandemic, no less?

Fortunately, I have discovered a strategy that has added so much to my life once I embraced it. It has let me pursue bigger and better things, and be satisfied with where I’m at today. All it took was a shift in how I started measuring my personal success.

Measuring Backward To Move Forward

Don’t worry, you’ve got this. To get started, I recommend getting your hands on what amounts to an owner’s manual for how to be a happy high-achiever. It’s co-authored by Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan and psychologist Ben Hardy, PhD, and is entitled “The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success.

In this brief book, you’ll learn about our GAP Culture, where nothing is ever enough, and we’re endlessly spurred (or spurring ourselves) toward ever-loftier achievements. You’ll also discover how to bridge the GAP. As the authors suggest:

“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.” 

Put another way, instead of measuring the GAP between where you stand and where you’d like to go, try measuring the GAIN you’ve already made toward your goals.

Escaping the GAP Culture

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, a lifestyle measured by GAIN vs. GAP can be incredibly liberating. I’ve been a student in Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program myself for a decade, and can attest to how empowering it’s been for me.order The Gap & The Gain from Amazon

Just think about how many GAINs you’ve achieved so far. You were born. You survived. You’ve learned to read and write, laugh and love, cry and care. Maybe you’ve earned a degree or similar professional credentials. You’ve created a stellar business or career, established deep relationships you care about, and enjoyed many amazing activities.

Each of these milestones and so many others are your GAINs, not to be discounted or forgotten. Once you stop chasing the ideals of a consumer-driven culture, you can use the power of these past achievements to energize you. As Sullivan and Hardy write:

“Being reminded of the easily forgotten past boosts your hope, motivation, confidence, and resilience.”

If you’ve been operating in the GAP for most of your life, don’t beat yourself up over it. Many successful professionals live there, especially high-achieving entrepreneurs. When everyone around you is behaving in a similar manner, that makes it even harder to go your own way.

I know. I’ve had great success in my personal and professional life. But I too tend to fall into the GAP mindset. Embracing a GAIN lifestyle doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are highly motivated to succeed. But through a practice of gratitude, meditation, and GAIN measurement, I’ve found I can still work hard and set ambitious goals, without becoming trapped in the GAP. This is not only personally satisfying, my family tells me I’m better company as well.

Financial GAPs and GAINs

Minding your GAPs and savoring your GAINs can also enhance your financial well-being, so we’ve built this same practice into our strategic wealth services. A GAIN-motivated approach can strengthen your investment resolve by shifting how you measure financial satisfaction. By keeping an eye on your future goals while tracking progress achieved, it’s easier to maintain that “hope, motivation, confidence, and resilience” during times of financial doubt, excitement, or upheaval (which is to say, almost all the time).

For example, we recently had GAIN conversation with “Jamie,” a successful professional and dedicated single mom of a wonderful teenage son.

We partnered with Jamie five years ago, using our strategic Design | Build | Protect planning for her to Live Life on Her Terms. Her goals made perfect sense: She wanted to capture her stellar earnings, build durable wealth, and advance her career to a certain level by a particular date … all while successfully raising her son.

But then, life got in the way, and Jamie had to make some difficult choices. After assessing her priorities, she chose to leave a challenging (if financially rewarding) work environment and sell a beautiful home so she could reset herself and her child into a healthier environment.  

It would have been easy for Jamie to view her setbacks as a GAP. Instead, in our most recent Regular Progress Meeting, she chose to see the progress she had made over the years as her GAIN. She looked back over the chaotic period and appreciated the significant earnings she’d accumulated, invested, and built on as markets rewarded her investment stamina. She cherished the progress she’d made toward her goal to make work optional. She measured from where she had been and not what could have been. She celebrated the freedom she’d achieved to live on her own terms, despite the curve balls.

Advancing from a GAIN perspective, we’re happy to report that Jamie is now ready to reengage professionally, as a large organization’s new CEO. Better still, by staying true to her commitment to be present for herself and her son, she is largely enjoying the journey. She is satisfied.

Measuring Your GAIN with Cogent Strategic Wealth

As we’ve written in the past, having a solid financial plan can put you on a path to achieve all that is important to you. It should account for all we know about your current circumstances, and position you to endure whatever we aren’t yet aware of.

Our Cogent team partners with professionals like you to ensure you are able to pursue your life’s goals and priorities, and enjoy the journey along the way. By helping you assess your GAPs while celebrating your satisfying GAINs, we seek to minimize the discontent that comes from forever chasing after an unattainable horizon—keeping you out of the GAP and firmly in the GAIN.

As described in Sullivan and Hardy’s book: “The GAIN is about real ‘measurables,’ not ideals.” They cite performance coach Tim Grover, who reminds us: “Winners don’t have a to-do list. They have a ‘done’ list.”

To learn more about how Cogent Strategic Wealth can help you GAIN from your own personal financial “done” list, is as easy as reaching out to us. We also would love to share our decade-long experience with Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program, relating the entrepreneurial and personal GAINs I feel I’ve accomplished for myself and with my family.

We love making new connections and seeing if we are the right wealth management team to help you Live Life on Your Terms. It’s part of the GAIN life we live ourselves. Let’s make it your GAIN too.


The opinions expressed by featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of Cogent Strategic Wealth®. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice. By clicking on any of the links above, you acknowledge that they are solely for your convenience, and do not necessarily imply any affiliations, sponsorships, endorsements or representations whatsoever by us regarding third-party Web sites. We are not responsible for the content, availability or privacy policies of these sites, and shall not be responsible or liable for any information, opinions, advice, products or services available on or through them.

© 2022, Cogent Strategic Wealth®