The Power of Planning: Self-Control by Effective Goal-striving

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As highlighted by Kurt Lewin, goal attainment is not yet secured solely by forming strong commitments to highly desirable and feasible goals. There is always the subsequent issue of implementing a set goal, and one wonders what people can do to enhance their chances of being successful at this second phase of goal pursuit. A promising answer seems to be the following: People may plan out in advance how they want to solve the problems of goal implementation. But what are these problems? There are at least four problems that stand out. These problems include getting started with goal striving, staying on track, calling a halt, and not overextending oneself. We will describe research showing that making if-then plans (i.e., form implementation intentions) on how to deal with these problems indeed facilitates solving the crucial problems of goal implementation. Thereafter, we will ask whether implementation intentions foster goal attainment even under conditions that are commonly viewed as not amenable to self-regulation attempts, such as succeeding on an intelligence test or overcoming spider phobia. Finally, we will report research showing that implementation intentions can even foster goal-striving in those samples (e.g., children with ADHD) that are known to suffer from impaired action control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSelf Control in Society, Mind, and Brain
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199776894
ISBN (Print)9780195391381
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Academic test performance
  • Action initiation
  • Behavior change interventions
  • Children with adhd
  • Delay of gratification
  • Disengagement
  • Goal intentions
  • Goal shielding
  • Implementation intentions
  • Medial/lateral pre-frontal cortex
  • Multi-tasking
  • Negotiation performance
  • Overcoming habitual responses
  • Overextension
  • Response inhibition
  • Setshifting
  • Simon effect
  • Spider phobia
  • Weapon identification task
  • Winning competitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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