Why just saying “I’m going to exercise more” doesn’t work

The majority of people who made resolutions in celebration of New Years have broken them by now. As much of an optimist I am, that is just a fact.

While there are a number of factors that contribute to why this may be, for many it is because their resolutions are way too vague. What do you mean by “I’m going to exercise more”? What are you planning on doing to achieve that goal?

I recently came across this YouTube video by JaidenAnimations, an animation based channel that I have been subscribed to for a while. Though I enjoy her videos purely for entertainment purposes, she uploaded this video not too long ago, and I was impressed by the way she delivers her message. Check it out below…

What Jaiden describes in the first segment of the video, in regards to the New Years Resolutions, are implementation intentions. Without necessarily knowing it, Jaiden is using an intervention to help people make better health goals. Nice!

When people are in the stages of planning new health behaviours, a place where things can go wrong is in the vagueness of the intention. “I’m going to exercise more” is a good start, but where is the context in how you are going to achieve that? Instead, if you are trying to become healthier, be more specific.

For example: “I’m going to join the nearest gym, and go at least once a week, for an hour at a time.” This goal is concrete, and is certainly more achievable than some abstract idea, where you may be prone to putting too much expectation on yourself, and ultimately failing.

Be specific, be realistic, and you will be able to achieve more than you think!


For the Psychologists…

Hagger, M. & Luszczynska, A. (2014). Implementation intention and action planning interventions in health contexts: State of the research and proposals for the way forward. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 6(1), 1-47.

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