Posted by: Edward | August 2, 2015

Build Good Habits using Implementation Intentions

One powerful method for building up positive habits is called implementation intentions. These are a specific way of planning that are structured as if-then statements. For example, if I’m going for a walk, then I will take a piece of fruit with me.

The if part provides a context for the behaviour you want to implement and it is best to use a discrete and noticeable event. That event acts as an anchor of and a reminder for the behaviour.

The then part is the behaviour you want to implement. It is best if this is specific and fairly simple. If the intention is too complicated, it is a good idea to break it into smaller parts and implement these over time.

Build your habits slowly and you will have more success. For example, before I added fruit to my walks, I first built a habit of buying fruit at the grocery store. First I started buying apples, and now I buy apples and bananas. And over time I’ve been eating significantly more fruit.

Now, what if you are having trouble with one of your plans? Well, you can use an implementation intention to work on the difficulty. Maybe you wanted to go running after work but when the time comes you don’t really feel like it. One thing you could do is decide, if I don’t really feel like running then I’ll listen to some pump up music while I put on my running clothes. You can be creative and experiment until you find out what works for you.

Using implementation intentions and building your habits slowly can radically change your life. If this has caught your interest then you can start by making one of your own.

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