Implementation intention


In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear describes a British study about building better exercise habits. The participants were divided into 3 groups.

The first group (the control) was asked to track how often they exercised. The second group (the “motivation” group) was asked to track their exercise and given information about the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease and improving health.

In addition to the above, the third group was asked to form a plan as to when and where they would exercise over the coming weeks. They were asked to write their plan in the following form: “During the next week, I will exercise at least 20 minutes on (DAYS) at (TIME) IN (LOCATION)”.

The results were remarkable. In the first and second group, roughly 35% exercised at least once per week. In the third group, 91% exercised at least once per week.

What explains the dramatic difference? The third group had a plan.

A plan about what they will do, when and where they will do it. Scientists call this an “implementation intention”.

Clear says that hundreds of studies show that “people who make a specific plan for when and where they would perform a new habit are more likely to follow through.”

“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y,” he says.

Trigger and response.

He says that time and location are keys to using an implementation intention to create a new habit, ostensibly because time and location are effective triggers.

Your mind recognizes, for example, that when it’s 6am and you’re in your den, it is your intention to meditate for 15 minutes, and so you do.

An implementation intention can help you achieve other goals besides starting a new habit.

You want to bring in more clients? What’s your plan? What will do, when and where will you do it?

Write down your plan and look at it often.

“Each weekday at 1pm, I will email 3 clients or professional contacts”. “Every Tuesday, when I’m at my desk, I will write for 30 minutes.” “Each time I close a case, I will call the client the next day to see if they have additional questions and ask them to sign up for my newsletter.”

What do you want? What will you do to get it? When and where will you do it?

How to create a simple marketing plan for your law practice