049. Why We’re NOT Happy Even After ACHIEVING our Goals | How to Live in the Gain with Fulfillment and Satisfaction

Upon conquering milestones we’ve long aspired to reach, it’s common to dwell on perceived shortcomings, overshadowing the journey and personal growth. Put simply, when we achieve big goals, we often focus too much on what we think we did wrong, which takes away from celebrating our successes and the journey we took to get there. The key is to notice and value personal growth along the way, instead of getting stuck in self-criticism.

Escape the disappointment of unrealized expectations, and tune in as Ann shares her uplifting journey to happiness and fulfillment. This episode is a guide for those wanting more but feeling inadequate—unlock the keys to realizing your true potential.

Key Points From This Episode:

  1. The concept of the gap and the gain
  2. Living in the “gap”
  3. How do you teach yourself to live in the gain?
  4. Start thinking about what you have come so far. And what you’ve gained so far from the present compared to the past instead of thinking about your future self. 
  5. When you’re living in the gap, you are depending on external circumstances to happen in a particular way for your happiness. 
  6. When you’re living in the gain, you are depending on intrinsic motivation. 
  7. When living in the gap, always look backward. 
  8. Celebrate the progress you have made. 

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49 - Why We're NOT Happy Even After ACHIEVING our Goals | How to Live in the Gain with Fulfillment and Satisfaction

00:06 Announcer If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So here’s your host Dr. Ann Tsung.

00:43 Dr. Ann Tsung Hello. Welcome to It’s Not Rocket Science Show. I am your host Dr. Ann Tsung. Today I’d like to talk about the concept of The Gap and The Gain. What that means is that sometimes when we achieve something that we’ve been aiming for for a very long time or a goal, a lot of times we celebrate for a little bit of time. Then the rest is, we beat ourselves up for not achieving as much as we thought we could. Or, we wanted more and more and more, and we forget to look in the past and how much we have come so far. That’s the difference between living in the gap and the gain. That’s how people are not satisfied when you have achieved a goal that you’ve been aiming for a long time, or if something great happened to you and yet there’s like this internal sense of discomfort that you want more and more the next step. So you’re never looking back. You’re always looking forward, and there’s a lack of fulfillment and unhappiness that’s constantly there.

01:41 The reason why I wanted to record this episode is because this happens to me all the time. All the time. I always have some goals that I’m setting. And once I reach it, I set the next one and the next one. Also, just to let you guys know the concept of The Gap and The Gain from the book by Dan Sullivan — it’s an amazing book — I will suggest you guys to check it out. For example, living in the gap. When I have sold my property in Vegas — I had a fourplex in Vegas. It was my first investment — I had zero knowledge in real estate before I bought it. I took a course by Semi-Retired MD. After one year, I was able to purchase that fourplex. After another year, it had appreciated, and I sold it. So I told myself that it wasn’t as much gain like capital gains as I thought it was going to be, that net gain. Because during the whole process, I actually had to evict two of my inherited tenants essentially from the last landlord. Then throughout that process there was like a court lawyer fees and et cetera. Then it was during COVID time, so some of my other tenants actually had to apply for rental assistance.

02:54 Long story short, I had to pay some additional fees I was not anticipating. So my net gain was not as much as I thought it was going to be after I sold it. And instead of celebrating — wow, two years ago, I didn’t have any property. No real estate experience at all — here I am beating myself up, telling myself, oh, I should have made way more double what I made so far. I’m undergoing a 1031 exchange right now. So what that means is that all my proceeds from the current sale, the fourplex sale, will go into an exchange fund or an exchange company. The taxes on the gains can be deferred, and all of that can be used towards the next property. Now I’m living in the gap telling myself like, hey, I have three properties to identify. I’m in so much stress. There’s a deadline of 45 days after closing. Now you have to identify three potentials and close it within 180 days. I’m living in the gap telling myself like, I’m not doing enough. I’m not seeing enough properties.

03:58 And really, in order to live in the gain, to change that mindset is, I got the opportunity to dive into real estate. I was able to start in my first property. That gave me the gains enough to the second property that is most likely going to be double in price on what I purchased the first time. That is an example of living in the gain. Thinking on how I’ve come so far, comparing to the past instead of comparing to your future self. The reason is because when you’re living in the gap, you’re always looking forward. You are depending on external circumstances to happen in a certain way for your happiness, for your fulfillment. So if you don’t get the price that you wanted for that real estate sale, then you are not happy. You’re depending on something external. Versus when you’re living in the gain, you’re depending on something internal. Internally, I have this intrinsic drive that I want to learn more about real estate, about financial freedom, and that I’m happy just through the journey. It doesn’t matter if I achieve a certain goal or if I achieve 10 units or 20 units in the future. It’s okay. As long as I have learned in the process and as long as I have made any progress, I’m happy and I’m fulfilled. So that’s an example of living in the gain instead. You’re dependent on your intrinsic motivation to give yourself happiness and fulfillment.

05:35 I wanted to give you another example that actually affected me quite a bit. When I had my baby, I had to pump every three hours essentially to make breast milk. I wasn’t planning on going back to the ER to work so soon. But because they were short-staffed and the bonus was so great, I wanted to make money for a nanny. When I went back, my efficiency was very low, especially when I have to pump and step away every three hours. The hands-free pump didn’t fit me well, so I always had to step away and get plugged in. And so my efficiency was probably about 50%. The medical director of the ER had a conversation with me because of the efficiency. I told myself it was as if I was letting the team down. I wasn’t able to pick up as many patients in the ER. When you work in the ER, it’s all about productivity, picking up patients, moving them through. And I wasn’t able to do that. Especially when I had been pregnant for a few months, I haven’t been working a lot. I couldn’t keep up with the efficiency that way. At that time, I told the medical director that I think it’s a good idea, as long as I’m pumping, that I do not work anymore. Because I also found that when I’m working and pumping, I actually don’t make as much milk.

07:00 After the conversation, though, I was living in the gap quite a bit. I was thinking in my head like, I’m not a good physician. I’m not fast. I’m letting my team down. I was like going down negative spiral, essentially. So I was comparing to my prior self when I was a resident and a fellow and I was really fast in the ER. I always wanted to carry the team. I don’t ever want to let my team down. So I was in a negative spiral telling myself that I’m not good enough essentially, back to the negative spiral. So it’s something I’ve always worked at. Every now and then, it just comes back.

07:41 It definitely affected me at that time. I had to change my story whenever something happens. You’re always free to change the meaning of the story, right? So I changed my story to tell myself that yes, of course, my efficiency is down. That is obvious. When I have not been working for the past few months, you cannot expect yourself. Especially with pumping three times a day, you cannot expect yourself to be as fast as somebody else who have been working for three to five shifts a week. There’s no way. Or 10 to 12 shifts a month. And if I worked more, I can definitely bring up my efficiency. There’s no question.

08:21 In a way, I was glad that this had happened. Because instead of being tempted by extra bonuses and money, I decided that I’m just not going to work at all whatsoever. It allows me to spend time with my baby instead of working. It allows me to make more milk because I’m not as stressed, and I’m not secreting cortisol. Because in the ER, it’s essentially non-stop, 8 to 10 hours of cortisol elevation and stress level. That is not good for making, producing enough milk. And so, in a way, I thank this situation for happening because it’s almost like a test on what I’ve learned throughout my life on how to deal with self-worth. It really doesn’t depend on how many patients you can see, how fast you see those patients. It depends on your own internal sense of self-worth, that I don’t have to achieve anything in order to be worthy. Okay. This is a great thing that it happened. It has allowed me to spend time with the people I love and care for the most. You can work later. You can work when your maternity leave is over. I was still on maternity leave and completely off for four months and part time for another two months.

09:40 So it’s that internal sense of wanting to make money, wanting to achieve this goal that is pulling me away from spending time with my loved ones. When I don’t have achieve that goal, I feel like I’m living in the gap. It doesn’t make any sense, right? I was able to turn the story around. I wanted to share that with you because a lot of times I know it happens to a lot of successful professionals. Maybe they achieved a goal at work, or maybe they hit a target at work. Maybe they hit it just a little bit under. Maybe somebody don’t do as well on the test as they wanted to. Though if you really just look back on the knowledge you’ve gained, I ask you to go back 90 days. What about 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Look how far you have come just from back then, and look at how much. You can think about like I don’t make enough money, or I’m not saving enough.

10:40 Really, looking back a few years ago, to me, it’s like night and day. When I was in college, I was in credit card debt. I was comparing different grocery store’s chicken breasts just because it was just a few cents off per pound. I would specifically go to that store just to save a few cents off per pound. It’s crazy. And I knew which gas station had the lowest cash card price. So if you pay cash, the gas prices are a little bit lower. I knew which gas station gave the lowest cash price, essentially. That was in college. Compared to now, now I can purchase a fourplex. Now I can exchange up to perhaps eightplex or tenplex. I mean, it’s crazy, right? So really, live in abundance. Look backward instead of forward. When you find yourself living in the gap, always look backwards. Compare it to your prior self. When you always look forward, looking for a goal that you’re trying to achieve, you’re never present.

11:42 Another example is that, actually, just two days ago, I was talking to my coach since I’m undergoing the 1031 exchange now. There are a lot of properties to review. I haven’t had a lot of time to review them because I’ve been taking care of the baby. I was telling him I was looking at my journal and all I see was like feed, feed, feed, feed, feed, feed. I was like all day, I have been feeding. He told me. He was like, yeah, so all you were doing was growing a human being and taking care of a human being and keeping him alive and giving him love and attention. Is that all you were doing really? That really changed my perspective at that time. That progress, it’s not measured by how many properties you have assessed, how many emails you have gone through today, how many phone calls or meetings you’re able to accomplish, the documents you wanted to send, like submitting my bookkeeping documents the bookkeeper for the real estate. It’s not measured by that, really. It’s like the internal urgency that we create for ourselves. Then we forget to be present. So instead of feeding my baby, connecting with my baby, bonding with my baby, I’m thinking about, oh my god, I have three more properties in my inbox I haven’t reviewed yet. I hope that he could just go to sleep, so I can go review it and stay. That is completely opposite of what life is about, right?

13:14 After this episode, really, I want you to look back anything that’s been bothering you, anything that you feel like you’ve been living in the gap about. Look back 1 year, 90 days, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and really celebrate the progress you have made, how different of a person you are now. Every day, it really helps to document, journal three daily wins for the day, something you’re grateful for, something that you have made progress on. Don’t just do something regarding work. It could be: I had a blast with my friends. We really connected. For me, I would say I had a great skin-to-skin time with my baby. I played with my baby, and I was able to share love and appreciation to my husband. Those are some of the examples. Don’t just think about work and the professional side. Because in the end, when you’re on your deathbed, that’s not what matters.

14:14 I thank you very much for your attention today. And just so you know, the show notes will be on itsnotrocketscienceshow.com. Please go there. Over there, you will find links to the seven-day masterclass. That’s a video course that I created to boost your productivity, 2x-3x your productivity, in just half the time. There is an application link on there that you can apply to see whether blast off peak performance coaching is right for you as well. All right. So thank you again. And just remember that everything we need is within us now. Thank you.

14:54 Announcer That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review in iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung herself. Then be sure to head on over to itsnotrocketscienceshow.com and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then join us on the next episode.