I have a list of good intentions that I add to my ‘to do’ list. Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic wane and puff all our good intentions become realities? Well, as we all know, that doesn’t happen. What does happen to all those good intentions to lose weight, watch less TV, exercise, go back to school, or spend more time with our children? They simply lose strength and drift to the wayside, although we never forget them.
It’s not that we are not sincere about our intentions; rather we don’t follow through. I don’t know about you, but I carry around in my head excess baggage of good intentions, along with the negative feeling about myself when I don’t follow through on what I said I wanted to do. I know I share this issue with many people around me, and it doesn’t make me feel better about myself
There is always a life lesson when you never expect it. There is one item on my list that I’ve been trying to reduce or more specifically eliminate from my daily habits – watching TV or too much TV. I do daily writing, and if I was to review my writings over the last five years, I bet I would find numerous notes on how I want to stop watching TV and somehow I’m not able to do it. I just assumed that I am a procrastinator, lazy, unfocused, didn’t have the big picture or the big words – NO WILLPOWER.
I’m fortunate that I have acquired a library of self-help books that sometimes speak to me when I look at my bookshelves. Last weekend I again wrote about watching too much TV. I was disgusted with myself. All the good intentions and I still drifted to TV land while eating dinner. I don’t watch TV during the day…have absolutely no interest. At nighttime, a long day behind me, I’m tired and want to sit back and relax, watch some TV and eat my dinner. I say to myself that I will sit here for an hour because I have things I want to do. Well, you probably guessed by now an hour drifted into 2 and sometimes 3 hours. I didn’t even really like what I was watching…I was hypnotized.
I’m a believer that there are no coincidences and when I’m open, I will receive the guidance I need to help me move forward. I never give up on my intentions; I struggle too much to move them in the right direction.
A few years back I read this book “Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start.” By Steve Levinson, Ph.D. and Pete C. Greider, MEd. Since I take an hour-long bus ride each way to work three days of a week, there is plenty of time to read. On Tuesday morning, this book jumped out at me, and I quickly picked it up to read on the bus. Whatever I didn’t get the first time around, I eagerly consumed at this reading. What did I gather from these two authors?
- That we believe in the follow-through fairytale…we assume that good intentions will have everything included and like my magic wand, the results will follow. The other fairytale is “It Must Be Me,” and I’m missing the willpower to do what I intend to do.
- “…the design of the mind might be responsible for follow-through failures” (page 37). Our mind helps us figure out what to do but the second part which is action will not automatically synchronize up with our intentions.
- Our internal guidance systems are not all instinctual…rather we have two brains – primitive and intellectual. We have evolved into intellectual beings but our primitive brain is still functioning, and these two parts are working against each other. Who wins when we have good intentions? Logically we know what is best to do, but our primitive system needs more than logic to propel it into action.
- The Primitive Guidance System is primarily in the present and will respond to the activity in the present. So if you want comfort, it will react to that.
- We have too much wiggle room and don’t connect how following through impacts our life. If we overeat now, we don’t immediately gain 10 lbs. If we did, we would see the cause and effect immediately and adjust our behaviors accordingly.
The authors provide a rich understanding of our inner struggle between our Intelligence-Based Guidance System and our Primitive Guidance System (PGS). They offer several strategies that propel the Primitive Guidance System to get behind the Intelligence-Based Guidance System (our intentions). It may sound complicated, but it’s not.
The book is an easy read yet powerful in what it offers the reader. You gain an understanding of why humans don’t follow through and then how to use this information to start following through on our intentions.
I used one of their strategies: “Right Before Wrong.” What I created for myself. I could watch TV if I wanted, but first I must eat at the dining room table. After that, I could do whatever I wanted with TV watching. I had to do first what was right, eating dinner at the table, and then I had the permission to watch as much TV as I wanted. I just started this, and the last three nights I ate at the table and watched limited TV on all three nights. Since I had more time on my hands in the evening, I did some other activities on my list…like calling people that I had intended to do for a while.
The book made sense to me. I let go of the willpower issue, or there is something wrong with me syndrome and allowed myself to be open to another way to create success in my life.
What about you? Are you ready to bring your good intentions into reality? Read the book “Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model for Finishing Whatever You Start.” By Steve Levinson, Ph.D. and Pete C. Greider, MEd.
What about your good intentions…do you follow through or do you too suffer in some areas of your life that drains your energy and only makes you feel bad about yourself? If you do read the book, share what you gained from the read.
Women’s Group Topics
This is a lively topic — how often do I not follow through on my good intentions. Help each other define what the “right before wrong” is for everyone. Read the book and discuss it to see what surfaces up for each of you.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”