The capacity to take action is one that needs to be balanced with mindfulness because there can be mindless action or mindful action. And the difference between the two states is not negligible. Mindless action may be necessary at times of immediate crisis or threat. It is a freeze-flight-fight primitive response to an external or internal stressor. Mindful action is deliberate and natural, following the principle of wu-wei (letting things go their own way instead of intellectually interfering).
There may be internal friction to taking mindful actions at times in many of us. Because of its nature, mindful action is not needed right here right now. There is no sense of urgency, although there may be a sense of importance. Importance for the long-term impact of the action, non-urgency because of the non-immediate ramifications of that impact. And that’s one possible blocker to taking relevant actions—that you may not feel any sense of urgency or relevance of the action in the present moment. So, the primitive brain would rather do actions that feel urgent and threatening to your social status (e.g., responding to instant messaging, checking the status of others via social media) or other primitive, inherent human mechanisms.
Implementation intention is a behavioral nudge that may shift your attention to taking mindful action instead of avoiding action. At its core, there is the assumption that action is critical for one’s development and society’s development over time. As a consequence, implementation intention offers a mental model to make it easier for your primitive brain to accept and take action. Through implementation intention, you stack your intention on top of a habit or activity you already do. It can work affirmatively or in negation too. For example, when I stand up to make coffee, I perform 20 squats and 20 back extensions. Or when I sit down at the desk and open the laptop, I open my task list first and define the top three tasks for the day.
Implementation intention is similar to habit stacking, according to which it is easier to remember to do habits when you stack multiple together. These cognitive tactics of behavioral nudging stand on the core belief that our momentary affect (emotions and cognition) are not to be trusted much because of the inherently biased and inaccurate nature of our momentary physiological and psychological states. We sleepwalk through the days, which become weeks, which become months, which compound into years. Implementation intention aims at helping us recognize this condition, and do something about it, under the assumption that action is better than procrastination or inaction for individuals and societies.