Growth Strategy #59: Implementation Intentions

One of the most challenging aspects of personal growth that the majority of my clients struggle with is staying accountable and following through on intentions.

Growth Strategy #59: Implementation Intentions

One of the most challenging aspects of personal growth the majority of my clients struggle with is staying accountable and following through on what they say are going to do.

This is one of the main reasons I believe it's important to externalize, either verbally or written what we plan to do, getting our thoughts out of our heads, and affirming our desires.

This is where implementation intentions can be a powerful tool for helping us achieve our goals and develop as individuals.

You might already know that I am a fan of micro #journaling and built a platform/app called, which is dedicated to inspiring self-awareness and personal growth.  One of the main features is a morning review, which provides a great opportunity to set intentions for the day.

Good for: Holding yourself accountable and following through on intentions
Best completed by: You or with an accountability partner

Implementation intentions are simple but effective plans that help us specify when, where, and how we will take action to achieve our goals.

I have used them in my personal and professional life as a powerful tool for getting things done.  They help me develop a clear and specific plan of action, and create a mental association between the action and the context in which it will be performed.

The part I have found most useful is anticipating and planning to overcome obstacles that may arise, (even though you can't always plan for everything.)

Here's how to use implementation intentions as a personal growth strategy to stay accountable:

  1. Identify your goal: Be specific about what you want to achieve and why it matters to you. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goal.
  2. Break it down into small steps: Once you have identified your goal, break it down into manageable steps. This will make it easier to take action and stay on track.
  3. Create an implementation intention: This involves specifying when, where, and how you will take action to achieve your goal. I have provided a structure below.
  4. Write it down: Helps make them feel more concrete and increases the likelihood that you will follow through on them. Keep them somewhere visible, like on your phone or in a notebook.
  5. Hold yourself accountable: You can do this by tracking your progress, celebrating your successes, and reflecting on your challenges. If you find that you are struggling to follow through, don't be too hard on yourself. Instead, adjust your plan and go again.

Like all of the strategies that I write about, there are always strengths and weaknesses. Here are five of each.


  • Can help you stay accountable to your goals and plans by specifying when, where, and how you will take action.
  • Creating a concrete plan for achieving goals can increase motivation by making them feel more attainable and reducing feelings of overwhelm.
  • Eliminating distractions, providing a clear path forward.
  • Develop self-discipline and improve your ability to regulate your behaviour.
  • Encourages reflection, which can enhance self-awareness and lead to greater personal growth.


  • Implementation intentions can be too rigid, making it difficult to adapt to changes or unexpected circumstances.
  • A highly structured plan can limit opportunities for spontaneity and creativity, which may be important to you.
  • Breaking down goals into small steps can be helpful, but it can also create an overwhelming number of tasks to complete.
  • They are not a guarantee of success. Failure to achieve goals despite having a plan can lead to frustration and disappointment.
  • While implementation intentions can be effective for some individuals, they may not work for you in every situation.

Overall, the benefits of implementation intentions often outweigh the potential drawbacks. However, it is important for you to consider your own needs and preferences when deciding whether to use this strategy for personal growth and accountability.

An implementation intention is a specific, concrete plan that outlines when, where, and how you will take action toward a goal.

When I write implementation intentions, I find they are most effective when they are specific, concrete, and aligned with my values and priorities.

Here is a writing frame to create an implementation intention:

"I will [specific action] at [specific time] in [specific location], using [specific resources], to achieve [specific goal].

If [potential obstacle] arises, I will [specific action] to overcome it and stay on track."

Let's break it down into different components.

  • Specific Action: This should be something that is clearly defined and measurable, so that progress can be tracked and evaluated.
  • Specific Time: This should be a specific time of day or a specific date, and should be realistic and achievable.
  • Specific Location:  This should be a place where the necessary resources are available and where there will be minimal distractions or interruptions.
  • Specific Resources: This could include materials, tools, people or technology that are necessary to achieve the goal.
  • Specific Goal:   This goal should be clear, measurable, and meaningful to the individual.
  • Potential Obstacle: This could include challenges such as lack of motivation, time constraints, or unforeseen circumstances.
  • Specific Action to Overcome Obstacle:   This could include developing a contingency plan, seeking help from others, or adjusting the plan as needed to stay on track.

By breaking down it into these seven components, it becomes a powerful tool for increasing productivity and achieving goals.

Thank you for reading.


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