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  • Writer's pictureDr Angus Tallini

Getting There: Growing the Motivation to Make Healthy Changes

Intention and Effort

Walking in soft sand can be tough, but look at the reward of the beauty all around you

I want to focus on these two useful aspects of conscious awareness which are important footholds for behaviour change and activation: intention and effort. They are particularly worth focusing on because in our world of distraction and multi-tasking, they aren’t immediately accessible. We are naturally predisposed to following the most rapidly amenable distraction because of our brain’s tendency to attend to new stimuli, prioritised over established ones. Becoming aware of intention and effort, we can nurture our motivation to establish and sustain healthy changes in our lives.


The first step is allowing yourself the time and space to determine your intention. This involves reflecting on your core values and the goals that arise out of them, identifying discrepancies between your current reality and your aspirations. Then you can articulate your intention to move from one to the other being as clear and specific as you can, even visualising what it would take to complete this journey. Intention is reaching into our core selves, our heart and soul, brushing past the external influences or distractions, including our fears and under-confidence, to set ourselves a clear and authentic goal, with the commitment to achieve it.



Next you need to prepare for the effort required to set off on that journey. Again, you can prepare yourself for what it will feel like and visualise what your physical, cognitive and emotional state will be like as you set off. Effort can appear old-fashioned in our leisure focused society, the emphasis on hardship over comfort, tolerating pain rather than averting it. But the modern idea of convenience and leisure is deconditioning us and setting expectations too loosely for a life that remains essentially challenging. So the process of expecting effort and preparing yourself for it is helpful in resetting those expectations and bracing yourself for them.




Intention is being specific about the direction, while effort is the insistence to carry on the path through the mud and rocky terrain, the ascents, and the diversions, to reach the goal. Putting intention into action with this insistence gives rise to the essential confidence which proves your capability to yourself and others that encourages you onwards. 


When living in this aligned way, it is heartening to realise that the effort becomes effortless. Once you have chosen your goal as an expression of your values, you have no other choice but to keep pushing on towards it. You rise above yourself where effort and intention merge, and you become one with your core values and aspirations.

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