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Set Your Intention, Receive Good Health

Atomic Habits

In his book Atomic Habits writer James Clear describes a study where researchers wanted to help 248 adults build better exercise habits. They pided the subjects into 3 groups. The first group was asked to track how often they exercised. The second group, the “motivation group,” was asked to track exercise and also to read material about the benefits of exercise. The third group tracked and read motivational material, but also was asked to formulate a plan. Specifically they were asked to complete the following sentence: During the next week I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].

Compared to the first two groups, where 35-38% of the subjects exercised at least once per week, in the group that completed the plan, 91% of people exercised at least once per week, more than twice rate of the other 2 groups.

Implementation Intention

The sentence the subjects completed is known as an implementation intention, a plan you make beforehand about when and where and how you will act. The format for creating an implementation intention is:

Multiple studies have shown that implementation intentions are useful to help you stick to your goals. They do so, in part, by increasing the visibility of a cue for your behavior, that is a trigger that initiates a response (you may recall the term cue from the Habit Loop popularized by author Charles Duhigg). In particular, implementation intentions leverage 2 of the most common cues – time and location.

The punch line is that people who write down their plan for change are more likely to succeed than people who don’t. I encourage you to take some time to write down your plan for changes you want to make:

You get the idea. Try picking one change you desire to make and try this out. Spend a few moments thinking about when and where you feel you can best succeed, and then write it down.

This week

What change are you trying to make this week? Take a moment and write down your plan to implement this change. I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].


Dr. Topher Fox

P.S. If you’d like more training about using intention setting as part of a morning routine, click here

Dr. Christopher Fox I am a board-certified endocrinologist in Superior, CO, and I have been in private practice since 2003. People I work with achieve success when they learn all the ingredients of healthy lifestyle and the system to consistently follow through on good intentions. I use my knowledge of endocrine science, psychology, neuroscience, and human behavior to help people make meaningful, lasting changes in their health that they can sustain long-term.

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