I want to start with an experiment that was performed with three groups of people.
There were 248 people in total and each individual was assigned to one of the groups.
The objective of the experiment was to gain insights into how people could commit to doing something and in the case of this experiment the “doing something” was to exercise.
- Group One: Control
- Group Two: Externally Motivated
- Group Three: Externally Motivated and Internally Committed
Group One was told to simply track how often they exercised.
Group Two was provided with reading materials on the benefits of exercise and each also attended a presentation on the benefits of exercising.
Group Three also received the external motivational items (reading materials and presentation) but were also asked to define specifically what day, when, and where they would engage in a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise.
- Group One: 35% exercised at least one time per week
- Group Two: 38% exercised at least one time per week.
- Group Three: 91% exercised at least one time per week.
There was essentially no difference in performance between Group One and Group Two. There was a substantial increase in the exercise level with Group Three (more than two times) when compared to groups one and two.
This speaks to the concept of implementation intention. If one truly intends to do something then that individual becomes specific as to what, when, and where.
Have you ever had this conversation with a friend? You say, “it’s been a while since we have gotten together let’s get together soon”. Your friend agrees. You say it and it sounds great to both of you but the get-together does not happen. If instead, you said, “let’s get together at the Skinny Pancake in Quechee for breakfast, next Tuesday, at 9:30 AM”. To be clear and specific makes this get-together very likely to happen.
The same goes with the cleaning of your home.
When will you clean out the garage? Be specific. State which day and what time and for how long. Write it down tell your partner. Make it clear to yourself that you are committed to cleaning the garage (perhaps only for two hours but committed).
If you are going to call a cleaning company and schedule an appointment for them to come and discuss their service with you then define when you will call and follow through. Also, when you speak with the cleaning company you would never say come over some time and we will review the situation. Both parties would never allow this. You would agree to a specific day and time and both parties would know the place.
Specific commitments count!
Don’t say, “I’m going to exercise more.”
Don’t declare, “I’m going to eat healthier.”
Don’t simply state. “I’m going to keep my home clean.”
Be specific about what you will do. Write it down to make it more substantial. Formulate a plan with details defined.
Then, go do it!