How to Turbocharge an Intention by Kicking Sand in Its Face

I’ve been saying for years that the mind works the way it does and not the logical way we think it should.

Case in point is the self-defeating way the mind (mis)treats intentions. It makes no sense at all.  

On the one hand, we use our own intelligence and experience — and we draw on the intelligence and experience of others — to figure out what we could and should do to make our lives better in big ways, in little ways, and in all ways in between.     

On the other hand, once we figure out what we could and should do, we often fail to do it.

What a waste! Again, it just doesn’t make any sense.  

A lucky discovery

Luckily, I discovered years ago that there’s a way to use the illogical way that the mind treats good intentions to make intentions more powerful.

It turns out that although we often fail to behave in accord with our intentions, we can give our intentions the power they need to succeed simply by threatening to violate them in a big way!

If you’re thinking “Steve, that doesn’t make sense,” you’re right. It doesn’t make sense. But it works!

Going Too Far

If you’re enrolled in the Follow Through Master program and have already taken the Follow Through Strategies course, you may recall the story of Tammy, who used the Going Too Far follow through strategy to finally act in accord with her intention to stop eating so many donuts at work.

After consistently violating her intention, Tammy succeeded in consistently acting in accord with it by making this one simple promise: “If I take any donuts, I will take — and eat — at least 3 donuts.”     

You’re in a for a surprise

It’s paradoxical but it works: If an intention isn’t working, you can turbocharge it by threatening to violate it in a bigger-than-life way.

So, for example, if you keep putting off working on a project that you know you really should be working on today, just promise yourself that if you don’t work on it today, you won’t work on it tomorrow either!

If you try it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how weirdly motivating it feels to promise not to do something you’re already not doing!  

By the way, I routinely use the Going Too Far strategy myself whenever I find myself avoiding work that I intend to do. I just stand up, place my hands in my pockets, and exaggerate being a slacker. It works for me every time. If it didn’t, trust me, I never would have been able to finish writing this blog post!   


Going Too Far is just one of seven strategies covered in the Follow Through Strategies course.