How is it that some of the most well-intentioned self-improvement goals fizzle before they barely have a chance to start?
It’s actually been studied.
A few years ago a New York University study compared the practice of sharing details for an intended change (like weight loss goals and plans) with others, versus keeping details a secret. They found the secret keepers did better in achieving their goals.
The reason, they suggested, was that by telling another person — your intention is now positively recognized by someone — therefore already giving you a sense of accomplishment. They went on to state, “when other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.”
In other words, if you want to lose 10 pounds and share your intention to begin eating cleaner (to achieve weight loss) — now someone’s taken notice of your intention. With that acknowledgment, you instantly get a sense of possessing the identity of someone who’s already lost weight.
I think they make good points. But I take it even a step further.
Through my own journey and my work with clients, I see many stumble here in a way that’s not related to secrets at all. There’s another piece…
I’ve observed that many of us feel a sense of accomplishment just by planning our success and taking the first step. Whether we share our plans or not, we can still begin feeling like a person who’s achieved their goals, without following through on the action necessary to do it. When this happens, change is not achieved.
I want to stress: There’s nothing wrong with stopping here. If it feels good to you, of course you can remain in this place as long as you like. But if you’re ready to move beyond it and have a history of getting stuck in the “action” phase, I’ll share with you the one simple tweak that will help take you to your goal.
Stumbling in the Action Phase
Here’s an example of the typical cycle (for those who get stuck in the action phase):
- decide eating more veggies and greens is best method of weight loss
- plan menu
- fill crisper drawer in refrigerator with veggies and greens
- feel good about these preliminary accomplishments
- start feeling like a person who’s losing weight because of the steps taken so far
- because you are already experiencing the desired feelings of the outcome, further action no longer feels necessary
- veggies and greens eventually go to waste, uneaten
Just Change Focus
To avoid the above scenario, it’s important to focus thoughts and intentions more around the desired feelings of the method than the desired feelings of the outcome. So in the above scenario, by concentrating on what desired feelings eating veggies and greens can provide, the action (eating cleaner) must happen in order to achieve those feelings. Therefore you keep moving toward your goal.
Using the same scenario, a powerful thought or intention for the method (eating cleaner) might be, “I enjoy eating veggies and greens because I feel more energetic when I do.” You see, when intentions are focused on the method, action still remains necessary. That’s the key to staying the course.
Because after all, intentions without action are just pretty words. <<< Tweet this!
Next time you’re aiming for change in the area of personal development, avoid derailment by focusing thoughts and intentions on the method rather than the outcome. See how that impacts momentum.
All my best.