4 Ways to Turn Your Intentions Into Meaningful Actions

Everyone has experienced it at some point. We know what we should do, and even how we can do it. Maybe we have gone as far as dipping our toe into the metaphorical water of our desired actions for positive change. But these intentions do not always develop into long-term, meaningful changes.

It is easy to sit, in the comfort of our homes and plan a future where we are consistent with our positive changes. Though the number of these futures that have become a reality is unfortunately very small.

Psychology teaches us, however, that following the methods below can maximize our motivation and ensure we turn our positive change intentions into actions, moving us from the contemplation to the preparation stage.

After all, it is us that need to drive our actions.

See here for a recap on the Stages of Change.

Writing down the pros and cons of your positive change

While appearing simple on the surface, putting pen to paper can help organize our thoughts and make clear the impact a positive change can have on our lives and the lives of those around us. This is effective because most changes stem from a decisional balance, where costs and benefits are measured. If we are tipped towards a largely positive balance, our likelihood of making meaningful change increases.

Building on the short exercise you have done as part of the flow chart in Part 2, make this list complete by writing down all of the likely positive (pros) and negative (cons) outcomes of your positive behaviour change.

Image result for pros and cons list
Set goals and make sure they are time-based

I have written a simple guide on how to set goals in a previous post, so if goal setting is new for you, it is definitely worth checking out.

An important things to consider when making your goals in this Stage of Change is ensuring they are time-based.

Giving yourself a time by which you would like to achieve your goal will help fight of those pesky thoughts of procrastination and delaying your plans for positive change.

If goal setting or positive change is new to you, don’t be afraid to start small with your goals. In this situation, long-term goals can be as short as you feel necessary.

Goals should be used to encourage you and give you confidence, not turn you away from positive change or set you up for a fail.

Believe in yourself

Believing in your ability to make a change is the foundation of making it a reality.

Successfully doing an activity linked to your positive change that is at least moderately challenging is a proven way of increasing self-confidence, with increasing self-confidence leading to the desire and drive to do more. Paradoxically, though, not having enough self-confidence can be a significant barrier to engaging in the activity linked to positive change.

We all have the power to belief in ourselves. One popular method of increasing self-confidence is self-talk. Following this link to learn how you can start applying this skill today. Don’t talk yourself out of self-confidence.

Be mindful of your internal motivations

Why do you want to make a positive change? Does it stem from within you? Or from somewhere else?

Take some time to consider these questions and write them down alongside your pros and cons list.

If you are unfamiliar with the differences of internal and external motivation, check out this post here.

In short, internal motivation comes from within us and is a longer lasting, stronger form of motivation, and your goals can impact on your motivation, so ensure you plan them effectively.

Be mindful where your motivations stem from. What are your reasons for change. We are all bound to have some external motivators, which is not necessarily a bad thing. These can sometime be the initial catalyst for positive change. But finding your internal reasons you are changing, and focusing on developing these feelings, will not only help you put your intentions into meaningful action, but help you throughout every stage of making your positive change a life-long habit.

Turning your intentions into meaningful actions

Progressing towards meaningful change can be challenging. Using these techniques can help you progress from intention to the beginning of making actions.

Once you have weighed up the pros and cons and set your goals, start putting them into action.

Take a moment to appreciate your progress as you move to the next Stage of Change.

As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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