💪 Good intentions

Published On: December 2nd, 2022

“Just do it”. This iconic Nike slogan has been telling us to get off our butts and seize the day since 1988. It’s branded across t-shirts, posted on billboards, and it’s the tagline celebrity athletes have used to motivate the masses.

⚡️ But does intending to “just do it” actually get it done?

Today’s newsletter is 586 words, 3 minutes.

1 big thing: Just do it? LOL!

We all want to achieve stuff. Getting fit, learning a new skill, meeting a financial goal. Who doesn’t want to nail any of these feats, and who hasn’t stopped short of getting off the sofa? We may have the best of intentions, but we’re also our own worst enemies.

❓ What’s going on? People don’t actually do what they intend to do. This frustrating quirk has a few names, the “say-do gap”, “intention-action gap”, “value-action gap”– the list goes on for this annoying aspect of human nature.

The intention-action gap is common and it crops up when our values or attitudes don’t match our actions.

But why do we not, as Nike says, “Just do it”?

2. Intention vs. action

There are a few reasons we stop short of achieving our goals.

💥 Instant gratification could sideline you. Saving money for the future is a huge goal, but getting lulled into buying that thing on sale today is all too familiar. Fitness goals also fall into intention gaps when we know the long-term benefits of moving more, but streaming Schitt’s Creek is waaaay more gratifying in the moment.

Perfectionism. The pressure of getting it flawless outta the gate isn’t realistic – nothing is perfect, so it’s easy to think: “Why bother trying?”

Too ambitious. Doing ‘all the things’ with no direction can lead to feeling overwhelmed and end with doing nothing.

So what can you do?

3. Bridging the gap

Our environment shapes our behavior and our choices more than information alone. This is partly why financial literacy initiatives often fall short (study) – we know we’ve gotta budget and a course can show us how, but that doesn’t mean we’ll follow through and do it. Nike got it all wrong.

🔑 Habits are key. To bridge the gap we have to make the action part of our routine, not something that requires you to read instructions or make a decision every darn day. I offer some evidence-based strategies…

⚙️ Automate. Making decisions is exhausting. The more energy you have to put towards making a decision, the less likely you’ll succeed. Decreasing the effort and making it easier can help you jump the gap and achieve the goal.

  • Saving. Decide once how much you want to save. When you get paid, automate a money transfer to a dedicated account. Think less, automate more.

📝 Sign a “contract”. Making a public commitment to a goal can significantly increase your success. The site Stickk.com encourages goal-seekers to sign a social contract to stay motivated.

  • The idea is to pick a goal, and then hold yourself accountable by putting money on the line. If you fail, the money goes towards an organization you find unfathomable. Succeed and you keep the cash.
  • Stickk works as a ‘commitment platform’ because they’re using behavioral techniques like loss aversion, incentives, and accountability.

Visualizing goals and making the process fun can not only increase your motivation, but can seriously get you to “just do it”. Thanks Nike.

Love love love,

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