Intentions & Habit Formation

Sunday evening: You make the intention to exercise 5 times this week, eat right, get 8 hours of sleep, and mobilise.

Monday evening: You wander from the Luas to the frozen foods section in Dunnes, grab a Goodfellas pizza, and turn on the tv.

What happened?

The region of the brain for intention is different for those that govern habitual action. So while we really meant to get a grip our on health this week, we were sabotaged by our habits.

A scarily high percentage of what we do each day isn’t independent thought or action, but rather habit. Habits help us save brain power, and in that respects they’re good. But if we want to change them, we’ve got to outsmart ourselves a bit. Think of Homer arguing with his brain if you’d like.

If we want to make sure we go to the gym rather than home after work, we need to make going to the gym easier and going home harder.

One simple way is to set a reminder in your phone when you leave work to remind you you’re heading to the gym. You can even pre empt your excuse “I know you’re tired but just go and do the warm up!”

We have our phones in our pockets all day long and tend to be slaves to them. You can trigger it when you go to Dunnes to tell you to buy the salmon and veg instead of the unhealthy microwavable option. Use the technology to help you engrain habits that serve your wellbeing, instead of convenience.

So next time you’ve a great intention, decide WHEN it’s going to take place while you’re still motivated, and set up the conditions then and there so you’ve little choice other than to follow through.

Hope this helps, have a great week!

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