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What is it that you want to take action on? Is there a goal you want to pursue? Is there a habit you want to create? Sometimes it seems like a mystery as to how people are able to accomplish some things and other things they leave to procrastination or simply don’t ever get started. When I examine my life I know there are things that I should do and just don’t do. You likely face the same situation at times. Understanding the “Theory of Planned Behavior” developed by Ajzen and Fishbein can help. This theory shows what PLANNED behavior is most likely to become ACTUAL behavior. Understanding it can help you move more of your behavior from planned to actual.
There are three things that determine the likelihood that you will take action.
1. Attitude Towards the Behavior/ Action
This concept is pretty simple. What is your attitude towards the action or behavior? If you have a positive attitude, you are more likely to take action. Think of a couple of examples. If you have a positive attitude towards exercise you are more likely to exercise. If you have a negative attitude towards exercise, you are less likely to exercise. If you have a positive attitude towards making that next sales call, you are more likely to make it. This is true for any action or behavior.
2. Subjective Norms
The second factor is the subjective norms related to the action. This relates to the perceived social pressures around the action. In other words, will others approve of the action or behavior. This is why having someone to exercise with makes such a difference. It provides a built in positive social reinforcement. The strength of the social pressure comes in to play here as well. The more people that will react positive to your behavior and the more important those people are in your life, the more likely you are to take action.
3. Perceived Behavioral Control
The final factor is the likelihood of being successful. This really relates to the perceived difficulty or ease of the action. If it is something you think is easy and that you will be successful in it, you will more likely do it. If you think it will be difficult and that you might fail, you are less likely to do it. If you think it is going to be difficult to lose weight, you won’t try. On the other hand if you think it will be easy, you will get started right away.
Notice that this is all based on your PERCEPTIONS. Of course you may perceive something very difficult than it actually is. How often have you resisted doing something because you thought it would be hard and take a lot of time, only to find it was much easier than you thought once you got started? This is because your perceptions were out of line with reality, however it was your perceptions that controlled your actions.
Bring It Together
Bringing it all together this theory teaches us that if there is something we really want to accomplish, there are three things we can do to make it more likely we will actually do it:
- Have a positive attitude about the action or behavior
- Bring others around to support and challenge us – people that would approve of our success in this behavior
- Believe you will be successful and that the task is not as hard as you think
What is one action you’ve been putting off doing? Or what is one habit you want to create in your life? Take that action or habit and analyze it under the three factors and use them to help spur yourself into action.
Danny Gamache – The Success Professor