Breaking habits through executing your intentions

BY FITZ-GEORGE RATTRAY

Sunday, January 14, 2018

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If you are separated from your wellness goals, it is very likely that you have developed bad habits. We are all aware of the existence of good and bad habits, and their management is integral not only to wellness, but also any pursuit of a quality of life. However, for many people the managing of our habits is supremely challenging.

Thanks to the awareness in the scientific community of the personal and social impacts of habit management, as well as good habit development and behaviour modification, there is no shortage of studies in these fields. Some studies have found that up to 92 per cent of people who attempt to modify their habits fail, but with a little knowledge and consistency you can join the eight per cent who successfully adjust their behaviour.

The steps in behaviour modification are:

• Identify your bad habits

• Avoid attacking one big goal without a plan

• Create simple palatable goals

• Align short-term manageable goals which can lead to your long-term goals

• Avoid taking on too many goals at one time (sometimes it is better to just choose one thing)

• Give those goals reasonable timelines

• Write everything down

• Track your progress

• Share with and take advice from trusted competent advisors or mentors

• Consistency is key

Implementation intention

With all these proven tools our goal-setting outcomes can still be improved further with one additional tool — implementation intention.

A research published in the British Journal of Health Psychology reported a distinct difference between change likelihood through motivation vs implementation intention.

Summary of case study

A total of 248 adults were divided into three groups and were given instructions on tracking their exercise over the two weeks:

Group 1: Control Group. They were instructed to keep track of how frequently they exercised. Each individual was also asked to read three paragraphs from an unrelated novel.

Group 2: Motivation Group. They were also told to keep track of their frequency. They were also told to read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease. With the intention of motivating them to exercise regularly, they were told, “Most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise programme have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing coronary heart disease.”

Group 3: Intention Group. This group was also told to keep track of their exercise and received identical motivational material and speech as group 2. However, they were asked to design a plan outlining where and when they would exercise over the time period. In other words, they were to precisely state their exercise intentions and to complete a specific written statement with those details.

Results

The results from the study indicated 91 per cent of group 3 exercised at least once per week, as opposed to 38 per cent in group 1 and 35 per cent in group 2

Writing down a plan for their intention, including what, where and when made group 3 significantly more likely to follow through.

It is enough to say that if you have identified your need for change and have sought out means by which to make these changes, there is already some better mind in you which already desires change.

Do not be satisfied with a failure to change, do not be fooled by your old bad habits born of social, familial or personally developed norms. Use the tools described above to make the change your better mind knows you deserve.

Fitz-George Rattray is the CEO of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238/ 581-8964, email intekai@outlook.com or visit their website at intekaiacademy .org.

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