There’s no getting around the fact that to accomplish goals you have to expend effort. And sometimes the effort just seems like it’s too much. For example, if you are at a party, all thoughts of your eating plan that limits desserts, may fly out of your head when you see the spread of brownies, cakes, or other desserts. As you finish your second or third helping you might belatedly remember your eating plan and now you are upset with yourself. This type of scenario can be avoided with what I refer to as your secret weapon, the implementation intention.
Implementation intention is a mouthful. What it boils down to is that you try to anticipate likely problems or hiccups that arise between you and your goal behavior, and then you make a plan. Using the example of the eating plan, an implementation intention might be: when I see the desserts, I will first get a serving of fruit to eat instead. Or it might be: when I see the desserts, I will take my time and choose just one serving of one item.
Perhaps your goal is to make it to the gym several evenings each week and you know that you are often tired and excuse yourself after a long day of work. An implementation intention in this case might be that when you get home from work you will immediately change into your workout clothes because you know once you’ve done that, you’re heading to the gym. Or perhaps you are generally pretty good about going to the gym, unless you turn on the TV. An implementation intention for this problem might be: when I get home, I will change into my workout clothes instead of sitting on the couch and turning on the TV.
Implementation intentions are basically and “if-then” statements. They are specific, stating where, when, and how you will handle the situation or problem. The key to their effectiveness is to think of them in advance of when you expect to need them and then repeat them to yourself several times (or go one step further and write them down a couple times). Implementation intentions have a large body of research showing that they are effective. In fact, in one study, participants were asked to create an implementation intention for their meals for one particular day. The participants ate more healthy food than the people who were not asked to create implementation intentions and this effect lasted FIVE DAYS! That’s pretty powerful!
Whether it’s difficulty reaching your goals or some other situation in your life, I invite you to give me a call or text at (816) 226-4678 to set up a free 30-minute consultation or a session. Don’t wait another day to starting changing your situation for the better!