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Turning Intentions into Actions

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

You want to start making changes to your life.

You want to start exercising, eating better, and making better choices.

You have clear goals in mind… but fall short of achieving them.

Does this sound like you?

If yes, you’re not alone. Oftentimes, we have the intention of doing something, but lack the motivation to turn them into actions. This is a phenomenon known as the intention-behaviour gap.

What can you do to bridge this gap? Several studies explain this issue and attempt to close this gap using simple interventions.

If you struggle with finding motivation to make exercise or any other habit a part of your daily routine, this article is for you.

1. Find the right motivation

For the fitness fanatics, exercise comes easily to them because they find exercise genuinely enjoyable and don’t view it as a chore that needs to be done. This type of intrinsic motivation is the ultimate goal: you’ll be much more likely to stick to exercise if you actually want to do it.

However, most people are motivated by external factors: it takes a little more to lure them off the couch and into the gym.

Whatever your reason for exercise is, it should mean something to you. Write out a list of all the ways exercise will improve your life— improved health, more energy, better sleep— and let that motivate you toward action.

2. Have a SPECIFIC Plan

Many people have intentions to exercise but make no concrete plans to do so.

Take 10 minutes out of your week to write down a plan of attack for the week. Decide what type of workout you’ll do, for how long, and where. Additionally, think of potential barriers to exercise and how you’ll overcome them. For example, if lack of time is a barrier, consider doing shorter workouts spread throughout the day.

3. Imagine Yourself Doing It

It may sound silly, but picture yourself getting into a daily routine of exercise. What does that look like? Are you a morning or night gym-goer? How do you think you’ll feel after?

Your mind is your biggest barrier: if you don’t think you can do something, chances are you won’t even try. One way to start putting plans into action is to envision what it will look and feel like when you achieve your goals. Picturing yourself not just completing your goals, but also physically going through the motions can help break that mental hurdle. It can also connect you to the feeling of accomplishment you get after exercise, even if it was in your mind.

4. Start Small

Oftentimes, people set goals that are too big and unrealistic. If you have a big goal in mind, break it down into smaller, more achievable chunks.

After you figure out what your big goal is, break down what you can do every week for eight weeks to move towards it. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, don’t think about losing it all at once. Set your sights on losing even just half a pound a week: in eight weeks, you would be almost halfway there (remember: consistency is key)! Then do what you need to do to accomplish the weekly goals (such as exercise 3x a week or meal prep for your lunches). You might have multiple tasks to accomplish each week, but focus on one day at a time.

5. Get Support

Sometimes all you need is a little push from a family or friend to get you where you need to be. Ask someone in your life to shoot you a text reminding you to exercise every day, or find a support group where everyone is going on a similar journey. It makes your goals more real and keeps you accountable, and having that kind of support feels great.

When you start turning your intentions into actions, you start being the person you want to be. The commitment to daily exercise can impact other parts of your life as well: with a fitness regime, you might also find yourself eating healthier, being in a better mood, and getting better sleep. It all starts with a single small step forward!

Found this helpful? Share it with a friend! We can all use some tips on how to stay healthy.

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