Struggling to Connect with &/or make time for your Little? Double your Chances for Success.

Bar graph showing the power of writing implementation intentions.

Volunteer mentors like you are full of good intentions. But good intentions alone do not make a lasting impact on young people. If you are struggling to feel connected, or to make enough time for your Little, you are not alone! Read on for help!

Researcher & author James Clear shares how getting specific about when, where, and how we do something almost triples our chances for success. He cites a study of 248 people open to building better exercise habits. The group was divided into three smaller groups: a control, a group exposed to motivational talk, and a group that wrote down, ““During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].”

38% of the control group exercised 1+ time/week.
35% of the group exposed to motivational talk exercised 1+ time/week.
And 91%! of the group that simply wrote down when, where, and how they would exercise actually did so 1+ time/week.

The takeaway for you as a volunteer mentor? If you want to make a lasting positive impact on your Little (& we know that you do), WRITE DOWN your intentions; ideally somewhere visible like your bathroom mirror, or on your bedside table. This does not have to be a long process. First think through your schedule and theirs. When & how is the best time/way to connect? Three examples:

  1. “This week and every week, I will call my Little at 12:00 pm on Saturdays from my living room armchair. If they answer, we will plan our next outing. If they don’t, I will leave a friendly and supportive voicemail.”
  2. “This Tuesday at 7 pm, and every Tuesday at 7 pm, I will text my Little’s parent/guardian to see how their week has been and to set up or confirm our next outing. I will text from my kitchen, after having poured myself a glass of (favorite beverage).”

    Or, if you and your Little might enjoy regularly-scheduled outings, as one of our awesome Bigs did with what she called “Madison Mondays”, you could write an implementation intention together. For example:
  3. “Every 1st and 3rd Sunday at 1:30 pm, (Big) will pick up (Little) from home to enjoy an outing together. On the car ride home, we will decide what to do on our next outing. I will put a list of activity ideas in the glovebox to help inspire us.”

You can use the power of implementation intentions in any area of your life you’d like more consistency: meditating, decluttering a work station, reviewing your bank statements. The key is to be as specific as possible. (We also recommend not starting a bunch of different intentions at once. That will help prevent overwhelm.)

Pro tip: tell your Mentoring Specialist, Little, and/or their parent/guardian if you are trying this approach. The added accountability will help your chances at success.

Let us know if you have questions! And pass along these tips to your Little! Maybe they can use implementation intentions to help achieve an important goal of their own.

With appreciation,
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County

P.S. If you enjoy leveling up your knowledge in powerful and applicable ways, with minimal time investment, we recommend subscribing to the free e-newsletter this post was inspired by. Thank you for reading this post and becoming a more knowledgeable mentor! All feedback welcome!

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