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Bridging the wellbeing intention-action gap with technology

  • Written by Dipra Ray, CEO of corporate wellbeing organisation Springday

When it comes to wellbeing, the intention to live a happy and healthy life is all-important. However, this doesn't always translate to action. We see this with new year's resolutions each year. In 2021, a survey by Finder found that over 51% of the population wanted to improve their fitness or lose weight. However, studies have also shown that 80% of these resolutions fail, most of them by as early as mid-February.

The phrase “Just Do It” was popularized by Nike to express the motivation to do what is needed to succeed. If we need to work longer hours or go the extra mile at work we “just do it”. However, when it comes to the lifestyle perspective, if we need to eat healthier, move more, sleep better or stress less, the same approach is not always as successful. We have found that most individuals do not just do it when it comes to improving their health and wellbeing. 

This disparity between intention and action is known as the Intention-Action Gap, referring to the difference between what people say they would like or plan to do, versus what they actually do. Several variables impact this gap, most often being that of instant gratification, such as the internal battle between cooking a nutritious and healthy meal or ordering a convenient takeaway option. Another reason why there is a gap between your intention and action is that your goal might seem too ambitious or out-of-reach. Being fit might seem too ambitious for a time-poor lifestyle when you are already juggling several responsibilities. Without enabling tools like programs that hold individuals accountable for their actions and help them stay engaged within a community, the intention to improve one’s health is not followed through by actions.

The key to bridging the intention-action gap when it comes to wellbeing goals is to create habits and seamlessly make them a part of your lifestyle, as opposed to them being a conscious choice. Technology can help bridge the gap between your intentions and your actions, in order to enable changes in your lifestyle. Digital wellbeing programs, for example, with self-paced and self-guided tools that target specific habits or lifestyle changes through a mix of tips, hacks and activities from experts, can help make a positive lifestyle change. This could range from a program to kickstart daily exercise to a program that helps you meditate or a program that reminds you to work towards your financial goals. Since these programs can be accessed via an app or online, they can provide a plan of action that users can consistently follow to kickstart or maintain healthier habits by using a combination of snackable content, gamification and reinforcement through reminders.

Through my experience at Springday, I’ve found that by focusing on components of behaviour, such as capability, opportunity and motivation, individuals are then able to develop new habits related to one’s wellbeing. To change a particular behaviour, one must feel they are both psychologically and physically capable to do so, have the physical and social opportunity for the behaviour, and want or need to carry out that behaviour. Digital wellbeing programs can therefore act as an effective intervention for healthier lifestyle choices by making behaviour change accessible, ownable and feasible, as well as by creating a commitment to ensure micro-habits follow through into bigger wellbeing goals.

In order to bridge the gap between intention and action for wellbeing initiatives, it is important to make people feel as though they are capable of change, by having the right opportunity and motivation to make that change. Digital wellbeing programshelp to achieve this by not only reinforcing the why, but showing the how, at a pace that suits users. (remove this part as the rest is not workplace focused so we can just have this from an end user perspective)

About Springday

Springday is a people first digital wellbeing provider, helping empower organisations to understand and motivate their people to be happier and healthier by providing the technological platform, content and strategy. Springday delivers engagement solutions that create a sustainable, thriving workforce and a visible culture of care.

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