It’s the start of New Year and we are all victims of the “resolutions” and “Fresh Start” bug. A viral that is in the air and somehow everyone seems to catch it. And yes, like most viral infections it runs its course and eventual we are cured of it! I am yet to meet an individual who has been able to keep a New Year resolution beyond the 30 day mark.
It is the one time of the year we resolutely attach actions to our intentions. Intentions that may have been around a long time. Intentions that we have had trouble auctioning. Towards the end of Jan or early February, we find it difficult again to keep up and they end up in the graveyard of resolutions.
In the field of psychology this is called the action intention gap. This weakness of will is caused when the conscious aspect of our intentions get disrupted by unconscious, automatic ones, leaving us to respond to the environment around us.
Like when we hear dieters say “I never intended to eat it, it’s almost like my hand moved by itself and reached for it and before I knew it I had eaten it” This is not far from the truth. Research has shown that we do things that are the opposite of our intentions almost unconsciously and we are unable to stop ourselves. This is because our unconscious mind seems to take over unless we are able to program it to not respond and allow the conscious mind to act.
Whatever be the reasons for not being able to keep our resolves, we are, at the end of the day defined by our actions. A lovely quote I came across read “we judge ourselves by our intentions and other by their actions” this could not be truer.
It brings to mind several instances – A manager who thought about a particular team member who he knew could do with a little extra support. He often internally debated on what he could do to support his team member but in the rigour of everyday work pressures and deadline never did action it. While he judged himself on his intention to help, the only thing the employee experienced was a manager who never reached out.
To overcome such pitfalls, It is important to view ourselves from an external stand point. See what others see of us to understand what perceptions we are feeding to.
The third prong I found in this action intention trinity is that of communication. Many times the gap between action and intention can be bridged by communication and greatly widened by non-communication. If we communicate intention to do something we also tend to be more committed to doing it. Similar to how so many people take to social media to keep their resolutions – 100 day run challenge – where someone swears to run a mile or 2 every day and post it – it is hard to get lazy and not do it when you have a thousand virtual eyes watching you!
Communicating our intentions and our subsequent actions also helps us create a value for what we bring to the table and why we bring it at all. It helps our co-workers family and friends understand us better and clearly assign intentions to our actions and actions to our intentions.
It is this Holy trinity of action, intention and communication that will help us manage our selves and manage perceptions effectively.
Hence, as we grow older and more self-aware, this holy trinity of action intention and communication could act us a beacon, leading us to better manage ourselves and how people perceive us.