We’ve all had those times when we were bad. And not the “I didn’t know so it’s not my fault” kind of bad, but the “fully aware, self-justified” kind of bad.
Why do we do things that we…
- Know are bad for us? For example, eating cheesy puffs. (I personally deny having a cheesy puff problem. I only eat cheesy puffs socially… most of the time).
- Really don’t want to do? Every time I eat cheesy puffs I realize that they don’t taste good. In fact they remind me of orange colored Styrofoam and yet on occasion I indulge – why?
Why don’t we do things that we know we should be doing?
Not only do we do things that we know we shouldn’t be doing, we avoid things that we know we should be doing. Exercise, for example.
I’d say everybody in the free world knows they should exercise (never mind the exact type) and I’m sure many really mean to (or intend) to exercise, but don’t.
Is it because it takes too much time? Maybe they don’t have the time, but there are way too many people watching reality TV to say there is a shortage of time for the average person.
So what’s the problem?
What do we need to do to change our behavior?
Maybe we need a plan.
One theory, “theory of planned behavior” says that intent (or purpose) is enough to change behavior. In this case, our intention is explicit, which then generates behaviorally oriented decisions. This means we have a set of goals that we intend to reach by acting a certain way. We plan to do something on purpose.
For example: I want to lose 10 pounds in the next two months by following healthy nutritious food habits and exercising 5 hours a week.
I have a goal – check.
I have a plan – check.
I have all the intention I need.
So now I am off to be successful! Right! Right?
While intention is really important, there is another piece to the theory of planned behavior: perceived behavioral control.
Are we in control of our behavior?
The first thing we need is the intent to exercise – with the goal and plan in place.
Then we need to think that we can control our behavior. Once we have our goal and our plan we need to BELIEVE that we can do it.
Psychologists have even put a number on how much perceived behavior control matters in intention: 45% of behavioral variance can be predicted by our belief that we have control.
Whether we actually have control doesn’t matter – assuming we are not locked up 24 hours a day in a room so small we are actually unable to exercise. Whether we think we control our behavior is what matters.
So far we need:
· A goal
· A plan
· The perception we control our behavior
With all this I must be exercising! Right! Right?
While this psychological model of theory of planned behavior does show that all these factors contribute to whether or not we will actually do the behavior (exercise for example) it’s not that good.
But what else could matter?
· Subjective norms – the way each participant’s close social network (i.e. family and good friends) felt about the participant’s goals.
· Perceived behavioral control.
· Emotion. Research shows that intentions to participate in exercise (physical activity) didn’t always lead to exercise. This gap between what people intend to do and their behavior has been called the “intention-behavior gap” – emotion is the missing link in modifying behavior.
After analyzing the different measures it turns out that attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavior control all impacted intention. Intention impacts how long it takes and whether we realize our goals.
But there is more … emotion matters. Emotion toward intent to achieve goals matters. Emotion also impacts intention.
What does this mean to you?
To give yourself the best chance in changing your lifestyle and behavior you need:
- Intention – with a goal and plan in place.
- Have a positive attitude toward the goal you intend to realize.
- Surround yourself with people who approve and believe in what you are trying to do. Or avoid discussing the topic with people you know are unsupportive.
- Believe that you are capable. Yes, you can!
- Have a positive attitude toward your intent to change your behavior and attitude. Believe in the goal and the plan.
Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the founder and president of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. His company is dedicated to helping organizations and individuals manage strategic change, innovation, cultural transition, and goal achievement. Surya has over 26 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. Contact Surya at s6ganduri@eMBCinc.com. For more information, visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.