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Implementation Intentions

Implementation Intentions

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Implementation intentions is a technique commonly used when you want to change a behavior or build new habits. This technique allows you to use your motivation more effectively.

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Possible Benefits

  • Improves motivation 
  • May strengthen self-confidence 
  • May increase productivity 
  • May strengthen focus on goals
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Required Equipment


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How to Do It

This technique works best when you use it for every goal you have. 

  1. Choose the goal you want to achieve. 
  2. Choose where, how, and when you will do it. These will be like "rules" that will tell you how to act. 
  3. (Optional) Keep a journal to record the steps above, so you can review your results and make any necessary changes. 

Implementation intentions work in the "if-then" way. "When it is 7 am, I will get up to eat breakfast and get ready to exercise”. "When I feel sad, I will do something active”.

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Why it works

  • Motivation alone may not be enough to act sometimes. Implementation intentions make you imagine yourself acting to achieve a goal, which makes it more likely that you will end up taking action. It also helps you create rules to follow, without thinking too much. 
  • As you achieve your goals and realize that this was your intention, your self-confidence increases. It increases the feeling that you are in control of your life. 
  • This technique helps you to achieve your goals, and achieving goals is synonymous with productivity. 
  • When you define how, when, and where you want to do something, your goals become clearer and you make the necessary changes.
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Time Commitment

5-10 minutes 

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Suggested Frequency

As needed

Review your intentions weekly

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Time of Day


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Possible Side Effects

Not achieving your intentions may lead to frustration and anxiety, but this is a normal feeling in most cases.

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  • When you're defining what to do, try to be as realistic as possible. Specific actions that can lead to achievement.
  • Implement your previous intentions first. Don't force yourself to create new ones. This way you will have more motivation.
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Supporting Studies and Articles

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  1. Time for Change: Using Implementation Intentions to Promote Physical Activity in a Randomised Pilot Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440859/
  2. Impact of implementation intentions on physical activity practice in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235272/
  3. Implementation intentions: A look back at fifteen years of progress. http://www.psicothema.com/PDF/3325.pdf
  4. Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta‐analysis of Effects and Processes. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065260106380021
  5. Implementation Intentions for Exercise and Physical Activity: Who Do They Work For? A Systematic Review. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jpah/17/3/article-p349.xml
  6. Implementation Intentions and the Theory of Planned Behavior. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167297239004
  7. Implementation intentions and efficient action initiation. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-05123-016
  8. The limits of simple implementation intentions: Evidence from a field experiment on making plans to exercise. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167629618301991?via%3Dihub
  9. An implementation intentions intervention to increase uptake of mammography. https://academic.oup.com/abm/article-abstract/32/2/127/4631702?redirectedFrom=fulltext
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 Happiness  Confidence  Productivity  Focus  Motivation
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