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Why your Goal needs an Implementation Intention

By July 22, 2021No Comments

We’ve all done it … created intentions that never eventuate. Take New Year’s Resolutions. They rarely get further than being an intention. As it turns out, there’s a valid reason why New Year’s Resolutions usually fail. 

Intentions need context 

Bridgette Di Ferdinando, a Social Psychologist and Treysta client and friend, recently talked to us about a successful approach to creating good intentions that work.  

Bridgette highlighted research by Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University. Gollwitzer looked at why people struggled to achieve their goals or create new habits. He found that when you add context to the intention, you’re far more likely to accomplish a new goal or habit from that intention. Gollwitzer called this strategy Implementation Intentions 

A study by the British Journal of Health Psychology in 2002 found that by adding the context or situation to the new intention, there was a 91% increase in follow-through. 

How implementation intentions work 

It turns out the answer to creating successful goals and new habits is quite simple. By adding a plan about when and where action needs to occur, you dramatically increase your chances of success. In other words, you add the details of how you intend to implement the intention. Simply put, an implementation intention is: 

“When (Event/behaviour) happens, I will do (Action)” 

You can apply implementation intentions to any aspect of your life, particularly to your finances. The more specific you are, the better. For example, your implementation intention could be around a savings goal such as When I receive my wages every month, I will put away $xx in savings and transfer $xx to super

Hear more of what Bridgette has to say on implementation intentions via a short video clip on our Instagram page. 

Backed by research 

It’s reassuring to know that research into implementation intentions has an excellent track record.  

According to the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, using implementation intentions will increase the likelihood of follow-through by up to 3 times. He’s not the only one. Other studies show that people increased their success by creating implementation intentions, around starting new exercise regimes, getting a flu shot, changing their sleeping habits and even to quit smoking. 

How to increase your chances even more 

James Clear goes on to give us one more tip on how to make your intentions stick. Follow-up research shows that you need to focus on one implementation intention at a time. The research also shows you need to allow at least two months for the new behaviour (be it a habit or an action towards a goal) to become a natural, automatic thing. Once it becomes automatic, you can move on to the next one. 

In our next few articles we’ll be looking at habits and goals in more detail. So stay tuned for our next article by following us on Facebook or Instagram. 

Making great financial goals 

Implementation intentions can help you reach your financial goals and Treysta is here to take the journey with you. Our team will guide you towards making great financial decisions that align with your values and support the life you want to live. If you would like more financial certainty in uncertain times, get in touch by calling 02 9241 2575 or email us at 

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