Do you often find yourself in situations where you have good intentions for your health, but struggle to actually turn them into action?
Every day you intend to eat healthy, exercise, be a great partner or friend, and perform at your best at work.
Still, most of us often end up snacking and eating fast and/or processed food, doing what’s easy and often unhealthy, getting stuck in our old habits, and procrastinating.
You are not alone and there is a reason for this! It’s called The Intention-Action Gap.
This gap refers to the difference between what we say we intend to do, and what we actually end up doing.
For example, I intended to eat healthy last weekend, but I ended up drinking more wine and eating foods not on my healthy list. While it’s OK to splurge on our “sometimes” foods and drinks — for me — I went a bit overboard.
While I had every intention of doing something (eating healthy), even knowing why and how I needed to do it, I failed to take action. Why is that?
While there’s lots of factors that have to do with this (more on this later), we have 2 major ways we make decisions and being aware of these is the first step to making our intentions be real.
One way we make decisions is with our automatic system; otherwise known as the habit-self 🤖. We use our habit-self to effortlessly complete our daily, more menial tasks. It can be seen as fast, emotional, effortless, unconscious, and impulsive. We are especially prone to outsource our decision making to this system when we are tired, stressed, or hungry.
Our second is the deliberate system which we use when faced with tasks that require higher cognitive effort and thought. It can be seen as slow, logical, controlled, conscious, and effortful. Examples include, writing down shopping lists, deciding on what car to buy, or solving a math problem. One of its additional tasks is to rationalize and make sense of what our habit-self does. This is our conscious-self 🤔.
We can’t say that either one of these is better or more important than the other. Both are important, but each can provide distinct advantages and disadvantages in various situations, so becoming aware of these two systems is critical to changing our behaviors for good.
Our habit-self does its best to optimize for the present and minimize cognitive overload (fancy word for, thinking a lot), while our conscious-self helps to explain our actions, and think about and plan for the future.
My habit of overindulging on food and drink kicks in when I am out with friends and my old habit self takes over.
We all have The Intention-Action Gap. What do we do? First, with loving kindness we begin to recognize these 2 systems of making decisions that form our habits (good and bad). Through mediation and working with a coach we create awareness of how and when we use our habit- self vs. our conscious-self when making decisions. Then, the healthy transformation begins.
Small steps. Big achievements.
Lots of love,