Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Go from an Intention to an Action

a motion picture clapper board that signifies action © zabiamedve - Fotolia.com
One aspect of healthy habits that I focus on in my practice is the important difference between intention and action. All too often, I see individuals (and I'm guilty of this, as well) who have the best intention to make an improvement in their lifestyle, but either they don't follow through, or they make a half-hearted attempt. Making a promise to yourself to do something such as "be more active" or "eat better" is a great start, but without some additional planning steps, you might not succeed. Don't allow your good intentions to get derailed by neglecting to think about what might help or hinder you in your new habit.

Here's an example - Person "A" says she's going walk thirty minutes, three times a week, and doesn't include any specific steps that will help her carry out that intention. More than likely, she'll walk a few times, but she'll gradually get out of the routine. 

Person "B", on the other hand, makes the same pledge, but he also goes a bit further and includes other steps. These steps will help him overcome any barriers he might have to following up on his intention, and they will also reinforce his new habit. 

These steps could include things such as:
  • Keeping an activity journal to measure his fitness progress - reinforcement 
  • Finding someone else who has the same, basic goal - support and encouragement 
  • Making a list of all the convenient places to walk - overcoming barriers
  • Promising himself a reward if he follows through on his pledge for a certain number of times - reinforcement
Of course, it's entirely up to the individual to think of all the steps that he or she would find helpful, but you get the idea. 

The bottom line is, you can have the best intention in the world, but you must put some thought into what else you have to do in order to perform the action step. Without that pre-planning, I hate to say it, but your intention is just words, no action

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