Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting Specific About Your Intentions

"Some day I'm going to get organized!"
"I simply MUST get in shape!"
"I have to get more harmony in my life!"

These are all intentions - and if I may be so bold - good intentions. Unfortunately, they are also the words that individuals have said over and over again without making any real changes. They hang out there, morphing from aspirations into whipping posts as time goes by and they aren't any closer to becoming realities.

So how does one help intentions manifest themselves into behavior? First, it's important to recognize the link between intentions and attitudes - both are lenses that help you interpret the world around you. They are your assumptions, your frame of reference.

As you can see in the diagram, your intentions (attitudes) drive your behaviors, leading to results. You take the feedback from the results, which reinforce or debunk your attitudes (intentions.)

Sometimes, though, intentions aren't strong enough to overcome habits of behavior. In these cases, you need to define the specific behaviors in which you want to engage that are representative of the intentions you have. Here's an example:

I will work out at the gym for at least 1 hour at least three times per week during the month of March, 2010.

Notice that you've set a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable (best we can tell right now) yet realistically high (a stretch,) and you've set a specific timetable for it. By the end of March you'll know whether you did it or not, and you can use the same process to carry you forward into April and beyond.

When you make a commitment to yourself and then keep it you are building your belief in the person you want to become. That's critically important to fuel your drive for continuous personal improvement.