Think of a time you made a decision that resulted in a bad outcome.

Maybe you suddenly ordered the most decadent meal on the menu followed by triple chocolate sundae bomb - despite promising yourself you'd stay healthy this week.

Or lashed out impulsively against someone who really didn't deserve it.

Or lazed in bed watching reruns instead of finishing unpacking that room...

Chances are you weren't as logical as you would like it to have been at those times - your actions driven by temptation and a, let's say, less than ideal mood?

Unlike computers or cardboard boxes, our emotional states can vary radically - and with it, the ability to make sound choices.

Whilst mindfulness and environmental control can help temper those big swings, the reality is that we need to anticipate and be prepared so we can still make good decisions.

That's where implementation intentions come in.

This is a fancy way of having a pre-defined specific plan so the decision-making is already done.  ie- it becomes the default and therefore mentally easiest choice.

"When I go to the pizza place with my friends tonight, I'll order a small veggie pizza marinara with no sides, and ask for water to go with it"

"I will run tomorrow at 7am after my alarm goes off, for 3 miles, around the park"

"I will listen and thank someone for their opinion if they say something I don't agree with, and not escalate the situation further"

etc

By having the action ready to go, in the heat of the moment you have an escape path to take you into a good path.

The key here is planning.

Think through what exactly you'll do to achieve your goal, and how you'll act in a situation you know may prove challenging.

Remember, behavior change isn't a motivation game, it's a mindful planning game.

Now go forth and order that healthy option!

 

ps - implementation intentions are also excellent for fast rebounds after bad choices. For example "if I blow up at someone, I'll cool down then call them up to offer to say sorry and make things right". "If I spend too much time watching TV I'll put the remote control away and spend an equal time after working on my side project, and feel great about it". A bad decision isn't the start of a slide, it's a trigger for a rebound. You got this!