Intention implementation can boost your performance whether it is athletic performance, leadership performance or organizational performance

Be behavior specific, address barriers and use a nudge-led approach to make it easy to stick to the plan

Intention implementation is a strategy used to boost your ability to follow through with the goals you set for yourself. The goals could be focused on athletic performance, leadership performance or organizational performance.

Intention implementation refers to making a predetermined plan to achieve a goal or incorporate a habit. This means, that if we plan our intentions in detail, we are more likely to get them done. Studies have shown that writing down the behavior, time, and location for when we will get something done makes it significantly more likely for us to stick to it. Therefore, if not having clarity of when to take action and only relying on willpower and motivation for inspiration we are less likely to do what we have intentions of doing.

The Intention implementation strategy will include outlining a specific target behavior and defining initiatives to reach the target behavior (behavior+time+location) and investigate the barriers for not achieving the goal. For example, if your goal is the start running three times a week (behavior), you write down the time and the days (time), and the route you are going to run for the upcoming week (location). The barriers and temptation to quit will be addressed by writing down in detail every obstacle you might be confronted with, and how you are going to make it over the humps, crafting self-discipline ahead of time.

To facilitate the success of the strategy we apply behavioral design principles to encourage the right behavior in key decision moments. Applying behavior principles such as framing, visual direction, reminder system etc. lead to higher chances of achieving your goals or changing a current behavior. Descriptions of some of the most applied behavioral design principles in Intention implementation are briefly explained below:

How something is presented to us, impacts our decision making. By framing the run as positive event with numerous health benefit rather than framing the run as a chore, you are more likely to go for the run.

Visual direction
When being introduced to new exercises or habits, it becomes easier to follow if the behavior is communicated visually and in simplified steps, i.e., writing a visual and specific plan down.

Reminder system
Giving reminders at the right time can have a positive influence on how good and how often we do certain things, i.e., hang you running shoes on the doorknob of the front door the day before running.

Temptation bundling
Pairing a pleasurable activity with the target behavior i.e., you can only listen to your favorite music playlist, book, podcast etc. while running.

Social proof
In groups of people, we tend to follow a good example. By surrounding yourself with other people who run, you are more likely to do the same.

Getting positive feedback in a process or towards a goal motivates us to continue and do better. I.e., share you plan with friends and family. They can also hold you accountable to your plan.  

Lastly, for intention implementation to be fully implemented in the encouraged behavior, a plan B should be added to the strategy so it can be adjusted due to unexpected circumstances. If the run a 6pm is not possible due to a meeting at work that lasted longer than expected, the plan is now to get up one hour earlier the next day and go for the run. That way, there are no excuses to avoid what was planned.

Such approaches to intention implementation are highly successful and have been used to encourage a range of behavior such as getting people to vote, take their medicine, exercising regularly, and getting a job.

Check-list for working with Intention implementation

  1. Define you goals as target behavior
  2. Outline initiatives, which can support the goals
  3. Investigate barriers for achieving the target behavior
  4. Decide on key decision moments for behavior change (behavior+time+location)
  5. Apply relevant behavioral principles to accelerate behavior change
  6. Measure behavior and goals according to target