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Why your good intentions don’t work (and what to do that does work)

Why your good intentions don’t work

Do you ever wonder why the good intentions you set for yourself haven’t worked out the way you wanted?

Do you get frustrated that you often start out strong with what you intend to do or change but then feel you are slipping backward or that progress seems to dry up?

If so, it is important to shine a light on two things:

  1. Why setting good intentions often doesn’t work.
  2. What you can do that does work and delivers the results you want consistently.

Why setting good intentions often doesn’t work

Here is a key reason setting good intentions doesn’t work:

Bad habits kill good intentions.

Habits are what drive our behaviour and results. Habits can be thought patterns or actions that we have just repeated so many times that they have become our default setting that we do without even thinking about it.

If you have a habit that sabotages your good intention, then you are not in a strong position to succeed with your intentions.

This is because the behaviour driven by habits is much stronger than new actions to achieve good intentions.

Habits trump intentions.

For example, say you set an intention to improve your confidence but your deeply entrenched mindset habits are negative self talk, lack of self belief etc. Those habits are going to crush your good intentions.

Or maybe your intention is to be more focused on your most important goals, or to improve your personal effectiveness and time management. However, you have a deeply entrenched habit of binge watching TV or messing about for hours on the internet or your cell phone. That habit will sabotage your good intention.

So, if bad habits kill good intentions, what can you do to set yourself up to succeed with turning your good intentions into the results you most want to achieve?

Well, the solution lies in what you do at the time you set your good intention. What most people do is to just set their good intention and then start marching forward.

Big mistake.

Before you start marching forward there are a couple of other steps to take that will increase your chances of achieving your good intentions.

Here are a few practical steps that will help you with doing that:

Step 1 – Set your good intention or goal. Be really specific of what outcome you wish to achieve.

Step 2 – identify any habits you currently have that might sabotage those outcomes and what action you will take to deal with those.

Step 3 – identify habits that would support you in achieving the specific outcomes from your intentions.

Step 4 – work out a step by step plan for forming the habits that will set you up to succeed with your good intentions.

Step 5 – now march forward! But remember to review and monitor progress regularly. This will help you to stay on track and to keep focus on what needs to be done to maintain progress.

Keep this in mind:

Your dominant habits are what influences whether your good intentions will be achieved or not.

It is up to you to be proactive in forming dominant habits that will help you to achieve your good intentions consistently.

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  • Lois Alter Mark

    This is such a good reminder. Action trumps intention – and that sometimes means having to change unproductive habits. I definitely need to work on this!

  • Marie Mack

    I think you brought up such a great point with this. We have to look deeper into everything that is behind our intent and change those things in order to make something work!

  • Hi Lois, yes indeed, action is king. As Pablo Picasso said “action is the foundational key to all success.”

  • Hi Marie, yes indeed. Challenging what we do and why we do it can be very powerful in the quest to get better results in any area of life and work.

  • Very good point, Ali. We are often held back by our habits that we are not even aware of.

  • Thanks Harry. Glad you liked it.