Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson

People are motivated by goals that provide opportunities for:

  • -Relatedness to others,
  • -Competence in skillfully performing,
  • -Autonomy in directing effort, according to Columbia’s Heidi Grant Halvorson of Columbia University.
Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink

This model aligns with Daniel Pink’s emphasis on:

  • Autonomy: Controlling work content and context,
  • Mastery: Improving skill in work over time through persistence, effort, corrective feedback,
  • Purpose: Being part of an inspiring goal.Halvorson advocated an incremental approach to “get better” in achieving goals rather than to simply achieve the goal.

Juliana Breines

To move toward “better,” she suggested acknowledging mistakes with kindness and understanding to cultivate self-compassion.
This approach was validated by Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen and University of Texas‘s Kristin Neff, who found that performance in various contexts increased when using self-compassion instead of self-criticism.

Additional ways to move closer toward goals include Halvorson’s suggestions to:

Serena Chen

-Consider the larger context of specific productive actions, 

-Define reasons for doing what needs to be done (such as exercising for 20 minutes, starting on a project),

-Use “implementation intentions,” a formula to prepare responses for challenging triggers:

If “x” occurs (specify time, place, circumstance),
then I will respond by doing, thinking, saying “y.”

    • “When I feel anxious, I will focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly for 60 seconds.”
      “When it’s 7 am, I will walk for 10 minutes,”

Kristin Neff

-Use implementation intention routines (habits) for “strategic automation” to reduce decision-overload that may reduce self-control and will-power,

-Focus on something interesting for five minutes to evoke positive feelings,

-Review “small wins” and progress toward goals.

Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile

“Catalysts” and “nourishers” that enable goal persistence were uncovered by Stanford’s Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer‘s study of employees at seven companies:

    • Capitalize on preferred motivational style:
      -“Promotion-focused” (maximize gains, avoid missed opportunities, powered by optimism),
      -“Prevention-focused” (minimize losses, variance, powered by cautious pessimism)
    • Build willpower by committing to one specific, positively-stated behavior change (“walking for 10 minutes a day, every day” instead of “not sitting around all day”)
    • Apply “implementation intentions
    • Protect willpower reserves by selecting  a limited number of achievable goals
    • Enlist “mental contrasting” to think positively about the satisfaction of achieving the goal.
Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck

Halvorson collaborated with Stanford’s Carol Dweck and quoted Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right” to underscore the value of optimistic engagement with goals.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

They synthesized Dweck’s work on “mindsets” with Halvorson’s recommendations for setting, monitoring, protecting, executing, and celebrating goals.  

An earlier post outlined Dweck’s definitions of mindsets:

• Fixed Mindset:  Belief that personal capabilities are given, fixed, limited to present capacities, associated with fear, anxiety, protectiveness and guardedness,

• Growth Mindset:  View that personal capabilities can expand based on commitment, effort, practice, instruction, confronting and correcting mistakes, linked to nurturing teamwork and collaboration.

Peter Gollwitzer

Peter Gollwitzer

Columbia’s Peter Gollwitzer a refined “mindsets” by distinguishing the Deliberative Mindset of evaluating which goals to pursue versus the Implemental Mindset of planning goal execution.

His team found that the Deliberative Mindset is associated with:

              • Accurate, impartial analysis of goal feasibility and desirability,
              • Open-mindedness.

In contrast, the Implemental Mindset is linked with:

              • Optimistic, partial analysis of goal feasibility and desirability,
              • Closed-mindedness.

Halvorson, Dweck and Gollwitzer’s translated their research on self-determination and motivation into practical recommendations for goal seekers:

              • Adopt a supportive “mindset,”
              • Practice “self-compassion” in addressing setbacks to achieving goals,
              • Design effective triggers and responses,
              • Use “implementation intentions” and “strategic automation” toward desired self-managed goals,
              • Consider incremental progress toward goals.

-*What approaches help you work toward goals?

Related Posts:

Twitter:   @kathrynwelds
Google+
Facebook Notes

©Kathryn Welds

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

  1. Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson

    Some of the NeuroLinguisticProgramming literature refers to “future pacing” or what will it be like when. This seems most closely aligned with Amabile and Kramers Build Willpower approach. Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive post on the topic! Jennifer

    Reply
  2. kathrynwelds Post author

    Thanks so much, Jennifer, for pointing to NLP’s “Future Pacing” construct. An upcoming post will share recent research on people’s tendencies to misjudge possible future states and how they might change in future. I’ll be eager to learn whether you find that these findings have a “ring of truth.”

    Reply
  3. Pingback: “Grit” Rivals IQ and EQ to Achieve Goals | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  4. Pingback: Self Compassion, not Self-Esteem, Enhances Performance | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  5. Pingback: Recasting Unattainable Goals into Refreshed Options | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  6. Pingback: Evidence-Based Stress Management – Vitamins, Probiotics – Part 1 of 5 | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  7. Pingback: Evidence-Based Stress Management – Mindful Attention – Part 2 of 5 | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  8. Pingback: Evidence-Based Stress Management – Social Support – Part 3 of 5 | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  9. Pingback: Evidence-Based Stress Management – Music – Part 4 of 5 | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  10. Pingback: Evidence-Based Stress Management – Physical Exercise – Part 5 of 5 | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  11. Pingback: Still Fulfilling Your New Year’s Resolutions? | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  12. Pingback: Multiple Paths Toward Goals Can Motivate, then Derail Success | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s