Implementation Intention: The Key to Achieving Your Goals

Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.

Ever wonder why some people set goals but don’t achieve them while others seem to effortlessly reach their goals? They might make it look effortless, but those who are achieving their goals are writing them down and setting implementation intentions. In fact, according to a meta-analysis of 94 studies, psychologists Gollwitzer & Sheeran found that forming an implementation intention has a strong correlation with achieving a goal.

What is an Implementation Intention?

An implementation intention is a term commonly used by psychologists. The idea of an implementation intention is to use “if-then” statements to prepare a plan. This plan is designed to keep you on track towards your goals. If situation X happens, then I will do Y behavior. An example is if someone has a goal to exercise more, their implementation intention might be, “If there are stairs, then I will take them.” Implementation intentions form a strong link between an anticipated situation and a planned response. When the situation comes up in real life, it serves as a trigger for the planned response. This allows people to work toward their goals automatically.

How does this apply to me as a stepmom?

If you’re ready to change your life, you need to visualize your future and set goals to make it happen. That’s where an implementation intention comes in. If you anticipate situations that come up with “if-then” statements, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Let’s take a look at three examples and how they would apply to your stepmom role.

Examples of Implementation Intentions

Goal: Have better communication with my spouse about my stepchildren

  • Implementation Intention: If I start getting defensive, then I will take a few breaths and reframe the conversation.
  • Implementation Intention: If my partner starts getting defensive, then I will reiterate that we are on the same team. I will remind my partner that my suggestions come from a place of love.

Goal: Try to feel more like myself on the weekends I have my stepchildren

  • Implementation Intention: If I feel myself getting tense, then I will go for a walk. It’s okay to take some time for myself.

Goal: Not let issues with my stepchildren’s mom affect me

  • Implementation Intention: If my partner brings up an issue with my stepchildren’s mom, then I’ll ask him to tell me about it only if it pertains to me. Otherwise, I will let him know that I am confident in his ability to handle the situation.

These are just a few examples of how you can use implementation intentions alongside your goals. If you take a ten minutes, I’m sure you can come up with several of your own. If you anticipate situations that try to derail you from your goals, implementation intentions will keep you on track. This will allow you to accomplish your goals and transform your life.

About the Author

Elizabeth Mosaidis is a Certified Resilience Professional through the Trauma Institute International. She is also a Stepfamily Foundation Certified Coach and an author. Her books are available here.

Certified Resilience Professional